Posted by: David Croslin
Elevator Speech, Funding, innovation, invention, Startups, Venture Capital
I have talked to thousands of startups over the last 15 years. And most of them make mistakes that dramatically limit their overall potential for success. An unbelievably small fraction of startups succeed and there are good reasons why.
Thirty seconds. Count it out to yourself. You will find yourself in professional situations where that is all the time you have. It’s called an ‘elevator speech’ because you might find yourself on an elevator with the key person who can deliver your opportunity of a lifetime. There is no room for ‘uh’, ‘well’, ‘right’ or any other words that have no value and reflect uncertainty to the listener.
Write up two elevator speeches. One is the business value speech. The other is the technical value speech. Both speeches can be used in face-to-face encounters as well as introductory emails, texts, introductory slides, etc. These should be the foundational definition of your startup! Not an afterthought.
Elevator speeches are more important than a business plan. They are more important than a one pager. They are more important than almost anything you will do relative to your startup.
Why? Because your elevator speech is your door opener and seed planter. If you have a one hour meeting with a key potential investor, you should start the meeting with your business elevator speech. Here is an example:
“Our new HydroFlash product is targeted at the water purification market which Gartner has defined as $13B in 2012 with over 70% currently untapped by any solution. We can deliver our product to the customer within 5 days of order and scale up and down to meet the needs of communities ranging from villages to large cities. We have defensible IP that potential competitors in the market cannot work around so they will have to license our technologies. We have partnered with the largest manufacturers. We can return a 10 fold return on investment in two years with multiple exit options in five years.” This should take you 30-45 seconds to say.
Notice all the seeds I have planted with the listener:
- Water purification market is well known as a growth market
- $13B market – largely untapped
- Third party confirmation of market
- Fast product delivery – minimal inventory requirements
- Multiple markets – small to large communities
- Defensible IP
- Licensing opportunities for recurring revenues from competitors
- Established partner base
- 10 fold return on investment in 2 years
- Multiple exit options
For the rest of the presentation my listeners would be asking questions about my additional presentation materials but most questions will originate from and be based on my intro elevator speech.
If there are technologists in the room and they ask a more technical question, then you pop out with your technical elevator speech and defer other technical questions until another meeting after signing of a mutual NDA.
I will be talking more about elevator speeches, business and technical values, etc. in other “Mistakes” posts.
This is #10 in a series of 50 mistakes that startups make.
I am looking for a company that I can work with on their road to success.
I am the former Chief Technologist at Hewlett-Packard and the Chief Product Architect at Verizon. I hold 25 granted patents that are referenced by over 400 other patents. I have started five companies and driven them to success. I have two startups in stealth. I was on the M&A committees at HP and Verizon.
Drop me a note or connect with me: firstname.lastname@example.org