An Entrepreneur's Pick-Up Line

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A pick-up line is a conversation opener with the intent of engaging with an unfamiliar person. We use pick up lines to start a conversation with someone, and it can be simple, cute or fun. It's a good way to break the ice and dazzle someone (if it is not too cheesy), and yet get to the point.

As a member of 500startups' investment team, I have had the opportunity to attend/ talk/ read 100s of pitches. An entrepreneur's drive and ambition is unshakeable. Founders understand their vision more intimately than anyone else- yet many struggle to articulate that vision and get a VCs attention during a pitch. Moreover, if the entrepreneur is reaching via a cold email or introduction, it is further more challenging.

When a founder reaches out to a VC for funding, the "pick- up line"  is important.  A pick-line in this context is the pick-up pitch - pick VCs attention during your pitch. If the investor does not understand the gist your business or idea in the first 2-3 sentences or minutes, then, there's a problem.

This 2017, use the best "pick- up" line or "pick- up" pitch to dazzle the VCs and get that coffee date. Here are some tips for a great cold email or conversation starter.

1. Turn your pitch into a story.

A great story is bound to get attention even from a data- driven investor. When you tell a story, other people seek connection with you and that makes your pitch unforgettable. It could be your personal story or a pain point. For example, I was diagnosed with Dyspraxia in childhood and parents detected that much later in my life. So, I built an app that will parents diagnose child disorders in 60secs. 

Investors can be bored with just spreadsheets, valuations and numbers; moreover, that information is accessible if required. You can offer what the numbers or graphs can't tell-  the story and the soul behind your startup. Your story should also highlight- why you are doing what you are doing. So, tell your story and tell it right. 

2. Are you a "me too"?

If it is a "me too" startup do not just call it an "innovative" solutions. Today, the word "innovative" is rhetorical and does not mean anything (often, it can be a put off) if you cannot support your claim with factual data. DO talk about why you are uniquely qualified to follow through on your business idea although it is a "me too". Emphasize on, what experience or expertise do you have that gives you an advantage over everyone else or what sets you apart from your competitors? For example, there are similar products in the market but my product helps you reduce your cost by 3X.

3. Use analogies

It’s not easy to get your full message across in 10secs. You want to make a good first impression and be sure the listener “gets it”.  Analogies can be a great way to concisely communicate what you do in a jiffy.  For example- AirBnB used to be the eBay for vacation rentals or Linkedin was the Facebook for business professionals. While it helps the listener to instantaneously understand what you are doing, sometimes it can be misleading and you may end up inviting many questions. For example, if you say, you are building a Big Basket for diary products, this is inaccurate, While this may be an accurate description of your business model BUT Big Basket is already offering these products. Inaccurate analogies will show that you haven't done your research, and will eventually back fire. So, use it smart.

The end goal

The goal of a successful pick-up line for your pitch is to charm the investors with your intelligence, and get that coffee date!  Make it so irresistible that you're the new talk of the town. Sure, that sounds too good to be true, but it is possible.