Taking your elevator pitch to the top

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Phil Weinman, a serial entrepreneur, investor and StartupSmart mentor, says that he’s heard “hundreds” of pitches in his time, often from people who accost him in an actual lift after one of his speaking engagements.

 

“I’ve heard so many, there’s not a week that goes by when I’m not pitched to,” he says. “Usually it starts with ‘I’ve got a brilliant business – please sign a non-disclosure agreement.’ I say, ‘Well, first let me know what the idea is’.”

 

“A lot of people think they have a multi-billion dollar idea and that an NDA somehow gives it value. But it’s not worth much if you don’t get it off the ground.”

 

Scevak backs this up, saying: “I always share as much as possible. People way over-estimate the chance of someone stealing an idea. As an investor now, I can really see the naivety of businesses that don’t share their ideas. The pros of sharing always outweigh the cons.”

 

Keeping it realistic

 

Weinman says that he values one thing above anything else when he’s being pitched to – honesty.

 

“If someone says, ‘I’ve got this idea and I need a mentor, can you help me out?’ I tend to gravitate towards them because they know they haven’t got the best business in the world,” he says.

 

“Often, businesses aren’t very good at summing themselves up. They usually ask me for money. They can’t look past their next salary day. What I’m looking for is leadership and big vision.”

 

“You need to show passion and be honest. There’s no way you can fake passion. You also need an end game – whether that’s to exit, to be in it for the next 50 years or grow it to stage X.

 

“The best thing you can hear is that someone says they want you to back them for nothing for a year. They put skin in the game and back themselves. That shows passion.”

Tips to improve your elevator pitch


Michael Fox, co-founder of online retailer Shoes of Prey advises: “A great elevator pitch does four things: it sets out the problem, it sets out the opportunity, it sets out how the business is going to solve that in a way that’s valuable to customers, and, most importantly, it inspires the listener.

 

“Not all of those four points should be explicit in the pitch, but each of them must be implicit and easy for a listener to arrive at and understand.”

 

“It doesn’t have to and shouldn’t give all the detail – you don’t need to describe the features you’re building. The goal of the pitch is to inspire the listener to want to spend time with you to find out more.”

 

“Here are some questions to ask yourself before putting your elevator pitch together: What do you and others find inspiring about the business?”

 

“What are your key selling points? If you had to describe it to your grandmother what would you say?”

 

“In my view the ideal elevator pitch is 10 seconds and at most two sentences long. Here’s what I imagine the elevator pitch to be for three of my favourite companies:

 

“Google: We’re the fastest, most relevant search engine on the web. We’ll monetise the results by showing useful, relevant ads to users.”

 

“Apple: We design and manufacture aesthetically amazing, highly desirable, easy to use consumer electronics products.”

 

“Facebook: We connect everyone in the world with their friends online, and make it easy to communicate with them.”

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Since 2010 StartupSmart has been Australia’s no.1 publication for the startup community and those interested in the startup movement globally. Publishing news, information and advice daily, and placing itself squarely at the centre of the government’s national innovation agenda, StartupSmart is a leading participant in the momentum that surrounds the world’s focus on technology, creativity and entrepreneurialism.
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