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Have you been asked to make an Elevator Pitch?

Aug 21 2012, 19:49   |   By SME Mentor

Let's start off by understanding the word, 'elevator pitch'. For some of you out there who have just turned entrepreneurs, this could be an alien word. Elevator, as all of us know, is a word a lift that transports you up and down a building, while pitch of course means talking of something. Then, that could be a business, sales targets, whatever.

So, an elevator pitch essentially is a very short talk to capture the attention of a venture capitalist (VC) or someone who is likely to give funds to your business, or even give you a job. The elevator pitch thus should be as long (or short) as the time it takes for an elevator ride. Too bad, if you get caught in a situation where you and your VC are going to maybe just the 3rd floor. In that amount of time, your elevator pitch has to convince the VC that you have a workable proposition. Of course, it also does not mean that you have to make the elevator pitch necessarily in an elevator!

One of the most important things any businessman can do is to speak about his/her business to others. But you cannot be rambling about it. The money bags are busy men. They have deep pockets but does not necessarily mean they are falling all over themselves to invest in that startup of yours. So comes in the elevator pitch.

Now, before you start assuming that an elevator pitch is just another name for sales talk, let's just put things in perspective.

> You are not selling a VC or an investment firm your service/goods/brand. Instead, you are selling the VC your business idea.

> At the same time, remember it is not a full-blown account of your business plan so loose the details

> Think of it as an introduction to your business

> It must be just long enough to excite the VC or private equity guy to ask for more
 
"I think Elevator Pitch is one of the best ways to manage time and also to understand the value of time. Some of my friends have used an Elevator Pitch even in their job hunts," explains S.Pradeep Kumar, CEO/Founder, Slashsquare.

Yet, often, many CEOs or startups ignore this crucial document, caught up as it is with the other aspects of running their business. For many a business plan takes utmost priority. Fine. But to reach the stage where you have the opportunity to explain your business plan, you need to first have an elevator pitch.

So, what's the key to a "perfect" elevator pitch?

To be fair, there's no template. But yes, certain aspects need to be always kept in mind while drawing up an elevator pitch for whatever reason. An ideal elevator pitch, based on the experiences of many CEOs, should be between 30-75 seconds.

"An elevator pitch must pack a lot in little time. It must have the compelling consumer need argument for a start. It must review and indicate what it will replace as habit. It should speak loud on the score of irreplacability and longevity of idea and concept. And finally it must have its profit argument in place", says Harish Bijoor Brand-expert & CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.

Create a hook

What is it that you want to say? The first 15 seconds will decide that. That's the hook that will make the VC or your potential employer even want to listen to the rest of your pitch. Even if he is polite enough to listen you out, if you do not get it right in the first 15 seconds, the info in the remaining 60 seconds will fall on deaf ears because your VC would have already switched off.

Keep intros short

In the effort to introduce yourself, you start losing precious minutes. Remember, right now, it is not about you. Yes, about should fit in in maybe about 5-10 seconds. The remaining part of your pitch should be about what is that you want from the guy? Money, employment....

Agrees Pradeep Kumar. "Don't talk about yourself: Seriously they (VCs) don't care about you or your work, they only care about how beneficial you are to them.  Keep it really simple and convey a clear message. Also make them ask questions which will really help you to understand whether he/she is really interested in your pitch."

No tech or finance jargon

Yes, the man in front of you probably has millions of dollars in his name and has access to a pile of private equity cash, so he knows jargon. Yet, except for the necessary portions, avoid jargon. Especially, the tech stuff.  Do not confuse, that's the last thing you want your elevator pitch to do. Use simple terms, instead.

Always fine tune it

Keep refining your pitch. Because as your business evolves, your requirements may also change. You may not necessarily get the chance to use your elevator pitch when you are setting up your business. In could be mid-way when your business goals perhaps have changed.

Rehearse

Do not feel shy to rehearse your little speech in front of a mirror time and again. Helps give you confidence and also save some time. Here's a tip: It has been scientifically proven that a human being can say three words in one second. Time your little speech, accordingly.

If you are making a pitch for funds for your business, it must have:

>         A very brief mention of your product/service/tools

>         Who are your potential clients

>         How do you expect to make money

>         How much money would you want as seed capital

>         What is your advantage over the competition


- New Age Content Services

SMEmentor@moneycontrol.com


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