By Geoff De Weaver, CEO + Founder, Touchpoint Entertainment Inc.
I am writing this to share with you many hard earned but rewarding lessons I have learned since the beginning of the ‘Dot Com’ days in the mid 1990’s and trying to convincing: VC’s, high net worth investors or Angels to listen to me and more importantly, give me seed funding or invest in my business.
I am also writing this as a follow up to my last post entitled: ‘Key things VC’s & Investors look for in Startups’ – URL: http://geoffdeweaver.com/key-things-vcs-investors-look-for-in-startups/
Importantly, over the past twenty plus years, whether I have been living or working in: New York City, San Francisco, Hong Kong or Sydney, Australia, it has become easier and more common because of all the failures, learning’s and ‘trial and error’, coupled with some huge successes along the way.
Having pioneered Internet marketing and cut my teeth with brands like: E*Trade, EA.com, IMG, Shutterfly.com, TiVo, VISA, OzEmail Internet and Webvan.com – I have learned much, and absorbed advice from some amazing VC’s, Angels, CEO’s and Investor worldwide, since the start of the Digital Age. (Even the current Australian Prime Minister!)
BUT, it is no easy feat and here are some of my ideas and hard earned lessons, I am sharing to help you to increase your chances of success and craft your perfect pitch. My main point is never get discouraged, never give up and always look at it is a ‘learning experience’ to help educate you and increase your skills and increase your ‘batting average’.
If you’ve been in the business or digital marketing world for any length of time then, you’ve probably heard about the infamous ‘Elevator Pitch’. But have you heard the essential rules and laws of the hugely successful 30 second elevator pitch? And, if you ignore these laws your elevator pitch will fall flat on its face and VC’s, Angels or investors will ignore you!
You don’t want that to happen! And convincing investors to listen to you is not easy to do.(especially with a limited or no track record with startups or digital brands). But if you obey the following rules and laws, and follow the advice I’m about to give you on crafting a perfect elevator pitch, then your chances of success will increase dramatically! And get your idea to market even faster. Sound good?
Additionally, having come from an International Marketing and Advertising Agency background too, I was already using a similar Elevator Pitch approaches for selling new ideas, campaigns and concepts to Chief Marketing Officers and Client CEO’s for years before the Internet Age hit too.
Let’s look at the rules and laws to help you craft that killer Elevator Pitch:
‘The Killer Elevator Pitch’
RULE 1: KEEP Short – Ideally under 30 seconds
Most people have short attention spans. Busy VC;s , Angels and investors have even shorter ones and have been ‘pitched at’ from all angles for decades. That means you MUST communicate your pitch in less than 60 seconds.
Think about Twitter and the recent use of Twitter Pitches – and keeping you content under 140 Characters if possible! In today’s digital world, Instagram is exponentially increasing because of little/no copy BUT a compelling or inspirational image or WORD.Simply because its short, eye-catching and not a time suck.
Additionally, why is this so important in 2016? Simple.
Your startup is going to listed on a dozen sites online, and all of them will include that one-line pitch including sites like: LinkedIn, Angel List, Crunchbase, Twitter, accelerators, competitions and more. Lets face it, today we are all flooded with too much useless information and time is so limited and precious, we guard it brutally.
A favorite example of a short, dynamic and innovative Elevator Pitch first caught my eye when legendary New York City VC, Fred Wilson tweeted this on Twitter in circa 2007 for his own VC firm, Union Square Ventures, when he wrote:
USV led a $5 million Series A funding round that valued the firm at $20 million. VC funding works in “rounds,” often involving several VC firms at once. Series A is a company’s first main round, and it goes on through the alphabet from there.
Your pitch has to do a lot in that time span, but if you can‘t write down the basic idea around your company or business on the back of a business card or in a Tweet, then you don’t truly understand what you do or have a WOW.
And if you don’t understand it, how do you expect a VC, Angel or Investor to understand it?
RULE 2: EASY TO UNDERSTAND – WITH NO JARGON
NEVER confuse the listener, especially VC’s, Angels or Investors. Once you’ve confused them, you’ve lost them. Even the most innovative, complex or disruptive ideas should be broken down into easy-to-understand statements. THIS IS CRITICAL
A great example to illustrate the easy to understand comment is simply looking at VeriSign. VeriSign was struggling until their Board and leadership team came in and changed the message of what they did. Up until that time the message was built around the math of encryption code, something that did not resonate or few too many people understood.
Instead, VeriSign’s new message announced they were brining “trust to the Web through the first driver’s license for the Internet.” BINGO…Everyone got that and they got investors, traction and momentum.
Additionally, avoid words like these all all costs: “synergy”, “optimize”, “efficiency”, “ROI” and so on. These words SCREAM “sales pitch” and will have your panicked VC, Angel, investor or prospect looking for the exit signs.
RULE 3: INVESTORS AND ESPECIALLY VC’S WANT A MINIMUM 10 X RETURN
NOTES from Shark Tank: Sell the Dream, not the Sales PLUS…Don’t Take the ‘Hail Mary’ Deal
Angels, VC’s especially and investors want to make money, so your pitch needs to tell them how your idea will make a 10 X return minimum on their investment. The more money it can make them, the more passionate you are about the opportunity, the more successful you will be in your pitch.
RULE 4: Irrefutable and Incontestable the better
At the end of your 30- 60 seconds Elevator Speech, the VC, Angel or investor should not have more questions. All the pieces of your pitch should fit together, and they should fit together logically. In other words, people should be nodding and saying, “That makes sense.”
Ensure you know your Total Addressable Market (TAM). All VC’s, Angels and High Net-worth investors might ask you that question!
Additionally, the more thoughtful and realistic you are about how you define the customer set, the faster VC’s can make a decision. Believe me, VC’s and Angels don’t mind getting surprised on the upside later on! #FACT
RULE 5: HAVE A POWERFUL HOOK
While crafting you Elevator Pitch always ensure you have build a a powerful ‘Hook’.
This is the element that literally snags your listener’s interest and makes them want to know more. This is the phrase or words that strike a chord in your listener. Make sure it is with passion, authentic and highlights WHY you are passionate about it.
RULE 6: THE ASK
The worst mistake you can make in an elevator pitch to a VC, Angel or Investor is trying to close the sale.
It’s way too soon for that. Always ask for a business card and suggest if they would like to learn more, you would be happy to connect with a short email or connect on LinkedIn.
Importantly, in your follow up email make sure you put down how much you want to raise. But there should be a minimum amount that makes sense to significantly reduce the risks in the business.
Importantly, highlight what risks you will remove and what momentum you expect to have about 6 months before you run out of cash. I actually like to set ‘key milestones’ for each stage of investment too. BE very focused on whether you will be able to successfully raise a round at a higher valuation, so tell the VC, Angel or investor what you think it will take to do that. I bet, if you are showing at least a 10X return… you will be pleasantly surprised on the longer term commitment.
RULE 7: LISTENER FOCUSED
Your elevator pitch needs to be focussed on your listener, not on you. Which means you need to drop as many of the “I” statements as possible. VC’s, Angels and Investors want global markets, scale and integrating with other social networks from day one. Importantly, VC’s will not penalize you for having audacious global goals and visions.
RULE 8: KEEP IT SHORT AND SWEET
Finally, under the best of circumstances, people have limited attention spans. So “Be clear. Be brief. Be seated.” (Winston Churchill) And, finally remember everyone listens to WIFM! (What’s In it For Me)
And, always give them your Business Card as it can give you the opportunity for follow-up contact!
I hope this helps serve you. If you can nail the points above in your next Elevator Pitch, your odds of success will only firm. Remember, practice, refine and improve daily.and make sure you can use it at a moments notice if required. Good luck with your pitch!
I wish you continued success. Stay passion and always PLAY BIG.
More about Geoff De Weaver:
Hailing originally from New York; Geoff De Weaver is the globally experienced digital pioneer, entrepreneur and global marketer, technology disruptor, trend hunter, transformation expert, author, keynote speaker and CEO of Touchpoint Entertainment Inc.
Feel free to get in touch with Geoff for further information:
‘When Action Meets Passion and Compassion, Lives Change’ ~ Geoff De Weaver