Dear Brit: 'What's an Elevator Pitch, and Why Do I Need One?'
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
Brit Morin was 25 when she left Google to start Brit + Co, a lifestyle and education company aimed at helping women cultivate creative confidence. Now — 10 years, $50 million in funding and 1.2 billion pageviews later — Brit’s passion is empowering more women to take the entrepreneurial leap. She’s a managing partner at VC fund Offline Ventures, host of iHeartRadio podcast Teach Me Something New, creator of Selfmade, a 10-week start-your-own-business course for women founders, and most recently — Entrepreneur advice columnist. Find her here on the first Thursday of each month answering the most personal and pressing questions of women entrepreneurs.
Have a question for Brit? Email it to email@example.com, and she could answer it in an upcoming column!
Q. You’ve pitched countless times and have also been pitched to. What does a successful pitch look like?
I’ve witnessed hundreds, if not thousands, of pitches in my career thus far, and I’ve probably given hundreds of pitches myself! So trust me when I say that I know from experience what a good versus bad pitch looks like.
For me, the first thing I look for is confidence. This means that you are neither reading, nor have you memorized your lines — you are speaking authentically from your full body. You are showing emotion and enunciation where needed to add emphasis. And most importantly, you are selling me on the problem, the solution and why only YOU will be the one to solve it.
The second thing I look at is a balance of data and metrics within your proof points (remember, I need to believe you) with a succinct pitch deck, usually no more than 15 to 20 slides. I want you to convince me with numbers and do so in a thoughtful, smart way.
Of course, I look at what kind of defensibility your business has, and how it will scale. I need to know that this business can generate not only a 10x return on my investment, but ideally a 1000x. Can you build this from a $1 million revenue company to a $1 billion revenue company?
And lastly, it’s all about YOU and your X-factor. Do your slides look professional? No spelling errors? Nice design? Are you a people person with me, easy to chat with? (I wonder if you will be a good manager and recruiter of team members). Do you have a fire in your belly about why you are doing this? Is it big enough that you will never give up, even on the hard days? At the seed stage, so much of my investment is an investment in the founder. Prove to me that it will be money well spent.
Q. What’s an elevator pitch, and why do I need one?
An elevator pitch is a ~30-second summary speech about your business. Ideally, as the name suggests, it includes nothing more than what someone could pick up on if they were riding in an elevator with you. I also like to use the analogy that it’s what you say to the Uber/Lyft driver when they ask what you do for a living, or it’s how you describe your company to your non-business-savvy parents or grandparents.
An elevator pitch usually includes the following: 1) the problem, 2) the solution, 3) why you? Here’s what I would envision Mark Zuckerberg’s elevator pitch for Facebook to have been back when they started: “We are all technically ‘connected’ by the Internet, but there is no social graph that helps us stay ‘connected’ to our friends and family, no matter where they live. Facebook is a new social network that aims to connect people to the people that matter most to them. While I started this company initially to help me find my friends at Harvard, I realized how powerful it could be to help everyone in the world to connect with one another as well.”
See? Wouldn’t you have wanted to invest in that company if it was pitched to you in an elevator in 2004? Me too.