The Elevator Pitch

Business planning expert Tim Berry talks about the business pitch, how to craft your pitch, what your goals should be, and what investors want to hear. Duration: 3:11

In Series: Ask Tim Berry

  1. What Sort of Plan Do You Need?
  2. 3 Common Business Planning Questions
  3. How Do I Start A Sales Forecast?
  4. The Elevator Pitch
  5. All Business Plans Are Wrong
  6. Are Business Plans Just For Investors?

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So they call it an elevator speech. I've heard 58 of these in the last two weeks, in my circuits in angel investment and business plan contests. What I'm talking about is, lately there's kind of a fashion of the elevator speech in business plan contests as being timed to 60 seconds. The classic idea is the elevator speech is your spiel when you're suddenly with a potential investor or buyer or partner, you're in the plane, sitting next to somebody, or you're literally in the elevator. Lately it's a lot about a 60-second speech about your business, in front of an audience. So what I recommend, and I've seen a lot of these, 60 seconds is enough time. I want you to think of it in four 15-second portions. And the first of those is 'Tell a Story.' Give a person a name, and show what problem that person has. So-and-so has had heart attacks. So-and-so lives in a village where they need clean water. Humanize it, personalize it. Generate empathy for the problem that this person has. It might be the patient, the doctor, the hospital, it might be the village, it might be the consumer; start with that problem. And then, second of four 15-second parts, 'Your Solution.' Now, because of us, the doctor can see the arteries better, or the village has this filter, or the family has this filter, or there is this group. What is the solution for the story you told in the first 15 seconds? And that of course is what you're selling, your business idea, your product. And then you move to the third 15 seconds, and it's about 'How You're Different,' and uniquely qualified to be the ones to solve this problem. We have a team of seasoned, proven entrepreneurs, and our technology is patented, and is new and different and so on, that's the third thing is how we're different. So you've got the story of the problem, your solution, how you're different, and you've still got 15 seconds left to talk about the business. "We see this as an $X billion market where we can take sales up to this many million dollars with this much money, and we feel that we'll be able to exit in three to five years by sale to X, Y, and Z." That's your final, ask: what do you want? You want an investor to be interested? Or you want to get that investor's business card, or you're in the plane and can get that card to follow up. That last 15 seconds is your 'Ask.' And that, in three minutes, is a one-minute elevator speech.

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