The “Minute Pitch Word Salad Problem” (In the Land of the Speedtalkers)

The “Minute Pitch Word Salad Problem” (In the Land of the Speedtalkers)

I recently had the pleasure of sitting in on a Minute Pitch competition run by FundingPost.com.

For those of you who don’t know, a Minute Pitch (or “Elevator Pitch”) competition gives a series of candidates each exactly 60 seconds to pitch their company to a panel of investors and/or industry experts.

At this particular Minute Pitch competition, 40some startups lined up against the wall to pitch for 60 seconds each. The variety of industries they represented was mind-blowing.

Folks pitched on everything from eco-friendly housing to web content development to traditional tech hardware and everything in-between. The depth and breadth of what was presented was an incredibly encouraging sign for the developing Los Angeles startup scene!

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However, in the midst of listening to some forty pitches, there were moments where I wondered what an alien dropped down in the middle of this event might think hearing something like this:

“Hi! IHAVEANEWTECHNOLOGYWHICHWILLTRANSFORMTHEWAYYOULIVEYOURLIFE. I’MGETTINGAPATENTONITBUTHWHENYOUTURNONYOURLIGHTSOROPENYOURREFRIGERATORIT’SGOINGTOBECOMPLETELYDIFFERENT300MILLIONAMERICANSOPENTHEIRREFRIGERATORSEVERYDAY.DON’TYOUWANTTOHAVEANEWEXPERIENCE.ISN’TITSOANNOYINGWHENYOUOPENYOURREFRIGERATORDOORANDALLYOURGROCERIESFALLOUT. WE’VEALREADYGOT200SIGNUPSTOTESTOURNEWREFRIGERATORANDNEED$1MILLIONINSEEDFUNDINGTOBUILDAPROTOTYPE.OURTEAMISREADYAREYOU?

Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but only slightly.  There were long stretches of pitches when I started wondering whether I was really in a speedtalking rather than a pitch competition.

A word to the wise:  The one who gets the most words out does not win in this case!

The point of an elevator pitch is to get someone interested enough to want to listen to your full pitch.  It is not to cram everything in your full presentation into 60 seconds.

And it is definitely not to try and say everything you know about your company in those 60 seconds.  (You’d be surprised what happens when the adrenalin kicks in!)

The best minute pitches are made up of the following:

  1. What your company does
  2. The problem
  3. The solution you offer
  4. The market opportunity
  5. Your competitive advantage
  6. Your ask and what you intend to do with it

So in the case of the word salad above, the effective elevator pitch might have been the following:  “Hi.  We’re XYZ Incorporated and we’re revolutionizing refrigerator lighting.  The average American wastes  $X a year in groceries because of poor refrigerator lighting.  Our patent pending technology solves the problem by _______________.  The American refrigerator market is $X million, of which $Y million is the high-end energy efficient market that we are targeting.  At this time, we are asking for $1 million in seed funding so that we can build a working prototype.

Boom!  Done!

What’s YOUR Minute Pitch?

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