Elevator pitch examples for successful startups

An elevator pitch is a succinct 20-30 second speech geared to convince someone about a product or company. Having a good elevator pitch ready can help entrepreneurs make the best of brief encounters with potential investors at parties, business events, or elevators. An elevator pitch is a prime chance to make a good first impression and generate interest in the company.

Capturing someone’s attention in a short span of time is quite a challenge. Here are some example elevator pitches, coupled with advice from some of the best marketing professionals in the business to help you nail your elevator pitch.

1. Information to include in the elevator pitch:

The key to crafting a good elevator pitch is to keep it short and crisp while covering all the pertinent information. All the relevant information from the pitch deck should be condensed into a concise 30-second speech. It should explain the genuine need for the product in the market, its unique selling point, what differentiates the product from its competitors and the business model—all of this in under 30 seconds.

elevator-pitch

 

Take a look at the following pitch to understand this:

We are a boutique recruitment agency that helps tech companies hire the best programmers. We run our own hackathons to identify talent and match them with our clients. This helps companies hire top talent without too much effort on theirs. We have some clients on retainer, but we also work with some companies for specific openings. You could stop by at our next hackathon in Palo Alto to get a better sense of how we scout talent.

2. Capture attention:

An elevator pitch is a conversation-starter; the ultimate aim is to progress to a meeting where the business model can be discussed at length. So, the priority for the pitch should be to capture the listener's attention and make them want to know more. Look at the following pitches:

I work on nanotechnology to deliver medical therapies to targeted cells”

This pitch is too technical and difficult to grasp.  Besides, it does not clearly present what the product does and how it adds value to the field of medicine.

“We are using the manufacturing techniques of the computer industry to make better vaccines”

The second pitch is crisp and explains what the company does in a way that piques the listener's interest. This was the elevator pitch that got Joe DeSimone's company, Liquidia, funding from Bill Gates's Foundation.   

3. Avoid Jargon:

The purpose of an elevator pitch is to get your message across clearly. Using complicated business jargon and buzzwords that don’t really add any value to your message can undermine your message. Consider this pitch:

“Our company's core competency is building synergy between top consumer brands and their customers. We help these companies to upsell and cross-sell their products while delighting their customers with new products.”

Here, the message is lost in the jargon.

“Our proprietary customer relationship management software helps companies to track data about their consumers more efficiently. Companies that have switched to our software have reported a 20% surge in return customers.”

This pitch captures all the essentials in simple, everyday language and is far more effective in getting your message across.

 

4. Start with a question:

Ronald Regan famously said, “Ask yourself are you better off now than you were four years ago?” This succinctly summed up the core essence of his campaign. Asking a question and getting listeners to think can be a good strategy. Consider this opening for a logistics management app:

start-with-a-question

 

This opening clearly states the problem that the product is trying to solve and sets the tone for the rest of the pitch. Renowned for his par-excellence presentation skills, Steve Jobs is also famous for making one of the best elevator pitches. While trying to convince John Sculley to leave Pepsi Co., for Apple Inc., Steve Jobs asked him, “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?”

5. Focus on your listener:

In the previous example, Steve Jobs's focus is not on what Apple does, but on what Sculley wants to do. Draw listeners in by addressing their needs. If it sounds like a marketing spiel, people tend to switch off. Flip the process of writing a pitch: it should not be a list of features of the product, but it should focus on telling listeners how it can help solve their problems.

This introduction for JustPark, a parking app which won the Pitch to Rich contest with Richard Branson exemplifies this:

“Let's face it. Parking can be a real nightmare. It can be infuriating to find, extremely pricey and by the time you find that spot you would have lost time, petrol, and caused a lot of unnecessary traffic and pollution. Well, there's an answer, parkatmyhouse.com. We are an awesome little company, backed by an awesome big company called BMW. Now, listen in: You can reserve parking in a private property and save up to 70%. Need to park at a sports match or local station? Sorted. ... Just go to parkatmyhouse.com and simply type in where you want to park and what dates. It is that simple.”

This pitch also slips in a reference to BMW, which adds to their credibility. This brings us to our next point about elevator pitches.

6. Provide proof of results:

Incorporate information about your company's big achievements, or major associations in your pitch. Risk perception is a big barrier for investors.  Put them at ease by telling that you have a product or service with proven results. In the example above, knowing that JustPark is backed by BMW makes them seem more reliable, and customers are more likely to trust their cars with them.

7. Add an emotional benefit statement:

Leadership expert Simon Sinek believes that it is important to show enthusiasm and help people see why you do what you do. As much as people would like to believe that decision-making is a purely rational activity, research has shown that it actually stems from our emotions. So, it is good to include an emotional benefit statement at the end. Consider the following example:

It ends with an emotional benefit – making a greener planet – that helps to convince potential investors.

8. Clear Call to action:

The pitch is not an end in itself, it is just the beginning. So, your elevator pitch should provide clear next steps on how people can get in touch with you to take the discussion forward. You could end your pitch with a simple line, like the one suggested by Cayenne Consulting:

“If you’re interested in learning more, I’d love to stop by at your office in the next week or two to give you a live demo. Would that work for you?”

9. Keep it natural:

Not just the content of the pitch, but the overall presentation and personality of the presenter impact how people respond to pitches. This is a personal interaction, and it should feel natural. It should not sound too rehearsed. The pitch should be conversational and leave scope for people to raise questions and share their opinions.

10. Bonus Example:

Here's a brilliant pitch for Tesla by Elon Musk, which is a good reference for how an elevator pitch should be drafted. This is slightly longer than the usual pitch, but still a great example:

esla-pitch-elon-musk

Here's a quick summary: 

 
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