Elevator Pitch

Elevator Pitch
Just thinking about giving an elevator pitch can be enough to make an entrepreneur sweat. However, crafting the perfect elevator pitch does not need to be cringe-inducing endeavor. To help, BusinessNewsDaily spoke with companies and investors to get their advice on what essential questions your elevator pitch needs to address.

What is your concept?

What is your concept?
Investors need to be able to understand the concept behind a company before investing in it. For that reason, all elevator pitches should be sure to focus on explaining the concept behind a business in as clear a way as possible.

"Try to use a simple, common visual cue that can anchor investors into what your idea/product actually solves," said Dan Derosier, vice president of Three Deep Marketing, an online marketing and search engine optimization firm. "This is especially important if what you do is something that is hard to describe, like a service, software or technology. (That way) the investor gets the visual cue and while they may not understand all the nuances of online marketing, they certainly get the connection."

How are you different?

How are you different?
Good elevator pitches will leave listeners interested in — or at least familiar with — a company. One of the best ways to accomplish both those goals is to show and focus on how a company differs from its competition.

"I believe the one thing that should be included in the pitch is the differentiation between your company and its competitors," said Braylon Lester, president and CEO of trucking company Xtra21 Express. "The most frequent question that continued to arise was 'What makes your company different from your competitors or what's your competitive advantage?'"

"It is highly important to separate yourself from your competition, especially in the eyes of an investor as far as the market and available opportunities," Lester said. "Most industries are very competitive, and in these markets and economic times, a niche is vital for success."

How will you spend investors’ money?

How will you spend investors’ money?
Companies looking for money from investors in a pitch would also be well-served by having a detailed plan showing exactly how they plan to use that money.

"Be prepared to specifically describe how much capital is needed for growth and its use and how it will increase profits," said Delilah Lanoix, president of SMS Transportation Services, which offers nonemergency transportation services. "These folks are pros and you need to have the answers. Remember, it’s other peoples’ money! This will demonstrate how well you know your industry and know where and how you plan to reach your goals for growth."

Are you passionate about your idea?

Are you passionate about your idea?
Passion is not only necessary for business success, but it is also necessary to make an elevator pitch successful.

"Show passion," said Michael Altman, owner of specialty chocolate maker Tumbador Chocolate. "The business might be something that people would consider boring, but showing emotion, direct eye contact and bullet point statements gains interest. To me, it's being a great salesperson. This is the ultimate sale, the one where you get the money to prove how right you are."

Will you be a good leader?

Will you be a good leader?
In addition to passion, business owners and entrepreneurs should also not be afraid to show their personality to make a connection with others in their pitch.

"People invest in people first, then the idea," said Charlie Kim, owner and CEO of Ross PPD, a specialty printing and packaging manufacturer. "It is important to remember that your business represents you and your principles. Your pitch will be more compelling if you avoid using jargon, say what you do, and say why you are you."

Are you qualified to run the business?

Are you qualified to run the business?
Even with personality and qualifications, business owners must still show their qualifications in order to make a successful pitch.

"I’ve learned that it is critical that your pitch to investors include the unique qualifications and insights you and your team have and how they specifically relate to building a sustainable business that will produce a return of on their investment," said Tony DeAscentis, CEO of Via680, a video email service provider. "You must clearly connect all three of these items — one in and of itself is not enough. If they haven’t bought into this right up front, the rest of your presentation is nearly irrelevant."

Do you have samples?

Do you have samples?
Savvy business owners should also bring samples of their product so they can help investors visualize and better understand their product.

"When you meet potential investors, you always want to make sure you can gift them a physical sample or trial of the product, if possible," Evan Blaustein, CEO of Mimoco, which produces specialized flash drives. "Samples allow the investor to kick the tires and seek opinions of other influential customers of your product, like their kids, spouses, friends and colleagues, etc. Not every investor is a perfect customer match, so it’s important that others they trust can provide real feedback with the sample. Pitch them the concept, but leave them with the product."

Have you clearly thought out your idea?

Have you clearly thought out your idea?
Investors, however, list one thing above all others when it comes to what they look for in an elevator pitch.

"I think the most important thing is a concise and easy-to-understand description of what the company does," Carolyn Galiette, senior managing director of Ironwood Capital, a late stage investment company. "Business owners are typically very passionate about their businesses and are prone to tell you a lot about the business, but don’t focus in on how to articulate that succinctly. If they want to effectively reach as broad a base as possible, it is good to hone and condense that piece of a presentation."

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