Prologue: One Friday, while attending the infamous Startup Chowdown lunch at Atlanta Tech Village. I sat at one of the communal tables and introduced myself around the table. The gentlemen next to me said he just joined the Tech Village community and this was his first lunch. I asked what brought him here. He said he is working on his startup. That naturally prompted me to ask the next logical question,
“What does your startup do?”
He then began talking and talking… so I scanned the table to see if others were following what he was saying. Clearly we all were puzzled, but courteously trying their best to comprehend what his business was about. He spoke for a solid 4 minutes (I timed it) and, in the end, no one around him was any wiser about his business. We all had the same puzzled look.
This is a common problem for startup founders. The “elevator pitch”. The ability to clearly describe what it is you do in a manner that is both clear and leaves the listener intrigued enough (if it applies) to want to learn more.
I thought it might be time I dusted off and republish an article I wrote 7-years ago (2014) on this subject. I hope you find this helpful.
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Ah! The infamous “elevator pitch”. How many of you have this refined in such a manner that you can actually give it in an elevator.
Why is this important?
Here is a case where a strong elevator pitch can be valuable.
At the start of nearly every Board of Advisory event at the Metro Atlanta Chamber the host would send a microphone around the entire room giving everyone an opportunity to stand up and state your name, your company name, and what it is you do to an audience of 50 to 100 local business leaders.
There are several ways the moderator would keep this from consuming the entire time allocated for the event itself. One way, was to restrict the person to saying this in three breaths (three sentences). Another, was to limit it to 10 seconds. This kind of scenario is not uncommon for business networking events.
Are you prepared for such an introduction?
I use the following elevator scenario with my clients to hone their ability to clearly articulate what it is they do:
You just walked into the 3rd floor elevator at a shopping mall and just before the door closes an important business acquaintance you haven’t seen in a long while squeezes in the door at the last second. He recognizes you and says, “Mike! Good to see you again. What are you up to nowadays?” He presses the first floor button. The elevator starts to move. How will you reply?
A typical elevator will cover two floors in 10–16 seconds. To allow for a response I suggest your pitch should last no more than 10 seconds.
Now that we know how long it should be, what are the ingredients of a good elevator pitch? When stating what you do it should be:
- Clear enough for your grandmother to understand
- Ideal if it can incorporate what sets you apart from others in your sector,
- Intriguing enough to warrant the following reply, “Wow, that’s interesting. I’d like to hear more.” or “I know someone who could use something like that! I will pass you her contact info.”
Here is mine:
“I am President of Allegro Consulting. Since 2002, we’ve been helping private business owners and founders in Georgia grow their business with a focus on the disciplines of strategic planning and sales process.”
This describes who we serve and how we serve them. It also points out our uniqueness — longevity and clear specialties.
The bottom line is your elevator pitch should be clear, compellingly, different, and brief.
About the author: Mike Gomez is the President and CEO of Allegro Consulting, a business growth specialty firm in Atlanta, Georgia helping privately held business owners find new avenues for sustained growth for 18 years. He is a start-up advisor at ATL Tech Village and Four Athens Tech Incubator, guest lecturer at Georgia Tech and University of Georgia, and prolific business speaker. His growth focused articles have appeared in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, ATL Business Chronicle, Gwinnett Business Journal, LinkedIn, and the Business Insider. www.allegroconsultant.com