Tips from the Experts: How to Craft a Compelling Elevator Pitch for Your Startup

, , ,

How to Create a Compelling Elevator Pitch

GUEST POST by Brett Farmiloe, CEO, Terkel

To help educate entrepreneurs about the pitching process, we asked business mentors, investors, and fellow founders for their best pitch tips. From being authentic to capturing hearts and minds through storytelling, there are several insights that may help you prepare for a pitch competition or networking event.

Below are seven recommendations to nail your next pitch: 

  • Be authentic
  • Storytelling is the key to capturing hearts and minds
  • Why this product, why you, and why now?
  • Make a milestone-based ask
  • Make your story “fit” an investor’s preferred deal
  • Keep it simple, short, and natural
  • Pack a Few Pitches

Be authentic

Most people are nervous when they pitch. They want their slides, narrative, and body language to be perfect. Take a breath, you’ve been through a lot for the opportunity to be evaluated by experts in your field. 

At the startup phase, people invest in people they like first and the company second. 

Because most people aren’t perfect, your nerves are probably misplaced. Be yourself, know your story, and how both connect to your audience in the timeframe they have to understand your business. 

Isaiah Lopez, CEO, OZZI

Storytelling is the key to capturing hearts and minds

Develop a compelling story that articulates a large problem in the market, how your start is uniquely solving the pain point and your plans to scale the business to the next level. Back your story up with numbers that prove you’ve identified product market fit. Lastly, explain what an investor’s return is likely to be if they invest in your business.

Michelle Eichner, CEO, Digitile

Why this product, why you, and why now?

The elevator pitch represents a golden opportunity for you to market yourself and your company to potential customers, investors, and talent to join you. In most cases you have just a few seconds to get your message across and engage your listener’s interest. 

Tell me how you’ve done the impossible and created a solution that’s unique and scalable. 

Then, convince me that you’re the one to build the company. Finally, finish with why now is the right time to join you on your mission.

Ruminder (Romi) Dhillon, CEO, Sonoran Founders Fund

Make a milestone-based ask

Investors aren’t interested in what you’ll spend the money you raise on – they want to understand how it will drive your business growth. Talking about how many engineers you’ll hire or a 50/50 split between marketing and product development doesn’t mean much. 

Instead of this: We’re raising $1.5M to hire 3 more software engineers and a marketing lead, plus we’ll spend money on digital ads. Try this: We’re raising $1.5M to add the top 5 customer-demanded features to our product and attract 10,000 new prospects by the end of next year. 

You’ll be more confident in your ask and investors will be thrilled to know the outcomes you’re driving with their investment.

Stephanie Sims, Founder, Finance-Ability

Make your story “fit” an investor’s preferred deal

Too often we focus way too much on which slides to include and “closing” the “deal.” May work sometimes but usually doesn’t. 

Your objective in an elevator pitch is to generate enough interest to get the next meeting….preferably one on one with the investor/fund. 

But how do you know, you ask? You don’t, so you’d better do your homework on who this investor/fund is way ahead of time and make your story “fit” their preferred deal or don’t waste their time or yours. They will also appreciate the fact that you took the time to see how your business might “fit” and potentially help their portfolio.

Thomas Blondi, Consultant & Advisor, Arizona Commerce Authority

Keep it simple, short, and natural

In a true elevator pitch, the goal is not to “close the sale”, but rather to “close” a follow up meeting/conversation. This can be done in as little as one sentence and should leave the listener wanting to know more and agreeing to that follow up conversation.  

The basic time tested formula is : “My name is _______ and I help A achieve B by doing C.” 

Just be sure the words you use effectively communicate the value you bring or the problem you solve without overdoing it. It shouldn’t sound rehearsed or canned. 

Darius Green, Co-Founder, Keyser

Pack a Few Pitches

Elevator pitches aren’t delivered in elevators. They’re done on quiet Zoom calls, loud networking events, and sometimes in front of audiences. Pack a few pitches for each occasion: a quick hitter for when people can hardly hear you; a “we do ‘’x’ for ‘y’ so they can ‘z’ pitch” on the quiet Zooms; and a longer, 1 minute problem and solution pitch for captive audiences.

By packing a few pitches for any occasion, you’ll be able to peak interest in any setting and get to the real objective of a pitch: deeper exploration.

Brett Farmiloe, CEO, Terkel

Terkel is a question and answer site that connects brands with expert insights. Answer questions, and get published in articles like this.