Are Elevator Pitches Important for Startup Founders?

Photo by Derrick Treadwell on Unsplash

Have you ever noticed that your job interview will start with a short conversation about yourself?

You will say what you do, what are your strengths and weaknesses, how you work with others, and so on.

If you know the basic elements of elevator pitch (I think everyone knows), it is the same as an interview with investors.

The only difference is that you are not answering questions from a potential employer, but from an investor.

To answer this question we need to remember why we are doing a pitch in the first place.

In my opinion, there are two main reasons:

a) To help the audience understand who we are and what we do as quickly as possible;

b) To make sure that our message gets through to the audience and not get lost in translation or due to some misunderstanding or poor delivery.

If you can master these two things, then your pitch will be a success. You will also notice that the audience will feel comfortable with you and want to listen to you more.

The whole process of pitching is a way to get into the room, to build trust, and have an opportunity to present your product or service in more detail.

How Long Should an Elevator Pitch Be?

It is important that the length of your pitch is short enough for everyone in the room to remember it, but long enough for them to understand what you do.

You will also need to think about the length of your pitch in terms of time. The longer your pitch is, the more time you will need to deliver it. It might be challenging for you to deliver a long pitch in just 30 seconds, so try to keep it short and interesting.

The best way to practice an elevator pitch is to practice with your friends and family.

Practice until you feel comfortable with your delivery and are confident that you can explain what you do in just a few words. It is also important that the audience can remember what you said afterwards, so try to keep it simple and concise.

What Makes a Good Elevator Pitch?

Here are some things that I believe make a good elevator pitch:

Have a clear message — The message should be clear and unambiguous. Your product or service should be clearly defined in terms of its main purpose, its main benefits, its value proposition, and how it helps people solve their problems or improve their lives. It should also describe who your target customers are and how many of them there are (you can use specific numbers if possible). A good example of this would be Uber’s “Uber allows users to get cars at the push of a button”.

If your product has several features, make sure that they are presented clearly as well.

For example: “Tinder makes dating fun again by allowing users to find new people nearby.” — they used two features (nearby matching) + one benefit (fun).

Or “Skyscanner allows travelers to find cheap flights around the world”. Here they used one feature (cheap flights) + one benefit (cheap flights) + one customer group (travelers).

If possible, include a specific number of customers that use your product or service — for example: “We have over 10 million users worldwide.” — in this case they used two features (“over 10 million users” + “worldwide”) + one benefit (“we have made dating easier”).

When possible, try not to use phrases like “innovative”, “cutting edge”, etc., as these tend not be as memorable as other words/phrases such as: simple, revolutionary, fun etc.. Keep in mind that this does not mean that you cannot use these phrases but just use them sparingly.

Keep it short — One of the most common mistakes people make when delivering an elevator pitch is trying too hard. Keep it short! Your audience will want to know more about your product or service after the pitch, so do not try to explain everything in 30 seconds. Just give them a general idea of what you do and let them ask questions. You can use a few lines to describe your company and then use the rest of the time to talk about your product or service. The audience will remember what you said better if you keep it short.

Rehearse it — As I mentioned before, rehearse your pitch with friends and family. Practice until you feel comfortable with it and are confident that you can deliver it in just a few words. It is also important that the audience can remember what you said afterwards, so try to keep it simple and concise.

How Should an Elevator Pitch Sound?

A good elevator pitch should sound natural, because most people tend to speak quickly when they are nervous.

If possible, practice with someone who is more experienced than you (i.e., someone who has done several pitches). If possible, record yourself when practicing (this is especially important if this is your first time) so that you can listen back later and hear how it sounds in real life.

Keep in mind that different people will react differently to your pitch, so don’t be discouraged if some people don’t seem interested in what you have to say or don’t ask questions at the end of your pitch (you will learn how to deal with this later).

About the Author

I am the Founder of Cudy Technologies (www.cudy.co), a full-stack EdTech startup helping teachers and students teach and learn better. I am also a mentor and angel investor in other Startups of my other interests (Proptech, Fintech, HRtech, Ride-hailing, C2C marketplaces and SaaS). You can also find me on Cudy for early-stage Startup Founder mentorship and advice.

You can connect with me on Linkedin (https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexanderlhk) and let me know that you are a reader of my Medium posts in your invitation message.

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Founder of Cudy Technologies (www.cudy.co), a full-stack EdTech startup helping teachers and students teach and learn better. I am also a mentor and investor.

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Alexander Lim

Alexander Lim

Founder of Cudy Technologies (www.cudy.co), a full-stack EdTech startup helping teachers and students teach and learn better. I am also a mentor and investor.

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