For more than 20 years, most recent Dysart & Jones associate Stephen Abram, and I have been encouraging those in the information industry to be able to articulate their value in the time it takes an elevator to move through a building. If you happen to get someone on the elevator and can start a conversation, what do you want them to remember? Do you have a sound bite ready?
Recently in Toronto a group of start-ups were given the chance to pitch to investors in the time it takes to go from the ground to the top of the CN Tower. One of our friends was involved, unfortunately he didn’t win. However, the winner just posted a great article with wonderful tips (which I hope she doesn’t mind me copying here). Noura Sakkijha is the co-founder of Mejuri, a Toronto-based startup that uses crowdsourcing to allow jewellery designers to take their designs to market and jewelry lovers to influence which designs get manufactured. Menjuri won the Elevator World Tour at the CN Tower earlier this year. Her tips for painting a picture of your value proposition:
1. Do your homework
Know your audience and tailor your pitch accordingly. Research the investors you are pitching to, take a look at their investment portfolio and understand what they’re looking for and emphasize these points in your pitch.
2. Structure your Pitch
If your business model is similar to an already established company or a company that is gaining a lot of attention, don’t be afraid to mention that. For example “Mejuri is the threadless.com of the fine jewelry industry.” This automatically simplifies your pitch as it sums up your business model in a few words.
- Start with stating a problem that your company solves.
- Explain how your company solves that problem.
- List your core competencies and competitive advantages.
- Then, transition into explaining where you currently are in your plan.
- Conclude with what your next steps are (my rationale around that is even if you don’t land a deal, someone might be able to help you achieve your next steps).
3. Keep it simple
Use simple words that flow easily. I think this is important because it allows you to remember your pitch, and it makes it easier to grab peoples’ attention.
4. Practice, Practice, Practice
Once you are comfortable with your pitch – practice, practice, practice! Pitch to your friends, your team members, or even to yourself. Even though I know my company inside-out and
I’m passionate about presenting it, I find that practice is very important to help me stay focused on my pitch while I’m in the act of giving one (especially when you have 58 seconds to summarize everything, you need to have your words flow easily and quickly).
5. Relax and go
Before you pitch, take a deep breath and demonstrate your passion! Every entrepreneur I know is in love with their company – show that passion and enthusiasm when you pitch your idea.