Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Great Elevator Pitches: Intro

Elevator Pitch Series Table of Contents:
Over the last 18 months I’ve attended numerous VC breakfast clubs, founders' brown bag lunches, cocktail receptions and keynote speaker dinners that I think I must have gained 30 pounds. Over the course of these events I have met hundreds of other entrepreneurs looking to grow and fund their businesses. However, of this group, I can only tell you what a handful of these entrepreneurs actually do. Unfortunately most entrepreneurs just don’t know how to explain what their business does in any type of succinct or effective manner. This is at least partially due to the fact that most founders come from technical backgrounds rather than sales or marketing but I’ve heard many sales guys give terrible elevator pitches also. The bottom line is that it is very difficult to distill the essence of an entire company into a compelling 60 second message that anyone can understand. 18 months ago I could barely explain what Cryptine Networks does in 60 minutes, let alone 60 seconds. Thus, this series of blog entries is an attempt to explain how I’ve learned to build a great elevator pitch.

Elevator pitches are used to explain what your company does to investors, sales prospects, potential employees, for general networking or simply when your friends and relatives ask why you’ve been working in your garage for 18 months with out a paycheck. The goal of an elevator pitch to a customer is to perk the listener’s interest enough to set a formal appointment for further discussion. The goal of an elevator pitch to a potential employee is to kindle a passion for your product. The goal of an elevator pitch for general networking is to ensure that the other person leaves with you key message so that 6 months later, when they guy your speaking to now finds himself in another conversation with a potential investor or customer who could benefit form your solution he remembers to refer them to you. The goal of an elevator pitch to a family member is to convince your wife not to leave you, you parents to keep supporting you and your uncle to introduce you to that angel investor he claims to know. Thus, the elevator pitch is one of the most valuable tools an entrepreneur has and it can be used in many contexts. However, for the rest of this series the context will be that of an entrepreneur attempting to raise capital.

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