This is a guest post by Kevin Sandlin
Pitching your startup idea to investors might be the most nerve-wracking aspect of starting your new business, especially if it’s live and in front of big audience. We’ve heard the following phrase quite a bit: “I’m not really sure where to start.” It’s common, and it’s ok.
Having a construct in which to create your pitch is crucial. Just like when you start a business, you need some boundaries, a business model, something upon which to base how you go about everything on a day to day basis, you need a place to start and some boundaries around your pitch.
Given a green field and an open mic, most people tend towards launching into a lengthy explanation of what they do, will do, can do, or want to do. While that can be impressive at times, it always leaves the audience asking, “Uh, so what’s that got to do with me?” Your pitch is not about you. It’s about the group of people for whom you provide a service, namely the service of solving some problem or other. Your target audience should be the star of the show, not you.
That’s where the construct that has come from 1,000 pitches focuses: the problem. Inspired by Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” TED Talk, book, and subsequent movement, the “why” of a startup is the problem that the startup is solving. That’s the focus of the pitch. Here’s the full construct of what you should strive to get across very clearly to your audience (of 1 or 1000) in an elevator pitch.
- Your name
- Your organization name (if it exists; if not, that’s fine, too)
- The problem
- Your solution
- Your customer (this entity pays you the money; very different from a user)
- Your ask (what do you need or want?)
It’s pretty simple. I’ve worn out the line, “It’s not the gospel. You’re not going to Hell if you don’t use it, but it works.” So, I’ll stick with it. It’s a starting point. Some of the best pitches we’ve ever heard barely touch this construct, and it certainly does not have to be in any particular order.
It’s what works best for you and your audience. What you say best, what rolls off the tongue the best, and what gets your message across to your audience most effectively. The six points above are a starting point, nothing more.