The Elevator Pitch: Why every startup needs a 60-second summary


Sriram Mohan | YourStory | 27th October 2010 | Bangalore

You don’t need to be an entrepreneur to have heard of the phrase ‘the elevator pitch.’ It refers a crisp overview of your business idea for a product or a service in the time span of an elevator ride. Investors are generally of the view that if you can’t explain the crux of your idea in about a minute, you probably haven’t thought it through. The exact origin of the phrase is uncertain. But it can be presumed that it originated in the USA (notice that it’s always an “elevator”; the rest of the world calls it a “lift”).

So, is the elevator pitch only for those who are seeking funding? Not at all. Even if you’re bootstrapping your startup, it makes sense to go through the process of coming up with an elevator pitch. It’s an introspective exercise that can help you, the entrepreneur, figure out what the core of your business is.

Since you’ve got only 60 seconds to make an impact, all spiel, jargon and unnecessary information get the boot. The problem – solution format usually works the best. Focusing on the opportunity encountered and how your solution is most beneficial to the customer makes ample sense if it is rounded off with how or why your solution is also most unique. If time permits, one can delve into size of the market and intended audience for your startup.

If you’re an entrepreneur looking for funding, it is smart to squeeze in information about how much funding is sought and return on that investment.

It is imperative that the elevator pitch is practiced with a fierce adherence to the time limit. This helps you understand what sort of information adds value and what doesn’t. Peppering the pitch with bits of your personality always helps, as long as it doesn’t take the attention away from your pitch. Messages delivered with fervour typically work better.

With attention spans dwindling steadily, startups and entrepreneurs with the best elevator pitches are most likely to encounter success, be it funding or awards. After all, the logic is, if you can’t say it well in a few words, how would you be able to do it in a few pages?