A solid elevator pitch can be the difference between a successful startup launch or a lost opportunity. Even though it’s not the be-all-end-all, it’d be nice to have your pitch perfected in case you ever run into Sam Altman or the like. Here’s a step-by-step guide for perfecting your pitch:
Grab their attention: What is your role within your startup? Are you the founder? COO? Venture capitalists want to speak with people who have the power to make decisions. Tell them your place within the startup to express to them that you’re a decision-maker.
Get them on the hook: You need to come up with a good sound bite for your pitch. What does your company do and what purpose does it serve? Whether it’s for consumers (B2C) or for businesses (B2B) it needs to solve a problem. You need to state the problem and your business’ solution at this point.
Reel them in: You got their attention and they know what business your problem solves, it’s time for the “death blow.” You need to make it clear now how the business plans on making money. At the end of the day, venture capitalists won’t consider making an investment if the business doesn’t have a clear way to make money. So give them a layout of how the business is going to turn a profit and you’ll have done your part.
Ask for a sit-down: Remember, you’re not asking for a specific dollar amount at this point. You need time to explain the business in more detail. The VC isn’t going to write a check right then and there anyway. Whether you ask for a coffee chat or a dinner out, it’s important to establish a rapport and let them think about your idea before pressuring them into investing. Trust me, they know what you want and it’s their job to find new investments, they’ll think about it. So ask for their business card and go from there.
Here’s a few more things to keep in mind:
- Don’t give them a valuation or directly ask for money at this point. This isn’t Shark Tank. If you’ve done your pitch correctly, the VC hasn’t gotten a chance to speak. You’ll blow it if you start throwing percentages and a dollar amount at them. Let them briefly mull it over.
- If they say no, don’t be insulted. Every venture capital firm is different. In fact, co-founder of Airbnb Brian Chesky published 7 rejection emails he got from venture capitalists while trying to raise $150,000 for a 10% stake in Airbnb.
- This isn’t life or death. Great opportunities come and go when you’re an entrepreneur. If you come off as desperate, the VC may think something is wrong. Stay confident and move on to the next.
- Keep it around 60 seconds. You won’t always be in an elevator when you bump into a VC, but you should pretend you are anyway. Keep it short and sweet so you don’t sound like you’re rambling. It’ll be easier to keep their attention if you can crank through your pitch efficiently.
Elevator pitches are intimidating. If you treat your startup like you’re baby, there’s so much you’ll want to say about it. However, it’s in your best interest to stay collected and only provide the most important selling points. With a little practice, you might just pull it off an secure the funding you and your team need to grow at astronomical levels.