How to Create a Winning Elevator Pitch: The Founders of Smoodi and Their Giant Dancing Pineapple Explain How. Pascal Kriesche, co-founder of Smoodi, explains how his team prepared and ultimately got what they wanted on "Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch."
Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch is the show where contestants get into an elevator and have just 60 seconds to pitch their business. Our board of investors is watching, and if they like what they hear, they open the doors and the entrepreneur steps into the boardroom to try to seal the deal. If they don't like what they hear, the entrepreneur gets sent back down.
It's fun, it's intense, and in this ongoing article series, we're celebrating the entrepreneurs who walked out with a win and sharing their tips for pitching success.
This week, we spoke with Pascal Kriesche, co-founder of the robotic smoothie machine company Smoodi, who was able to dance away with a deal on season 10 of Elevator Pitch.
Watch Smoodi's Winning Pitch Here
Give us your 60-second pitch.
Are you tired of sacrificing your health for convenience? We founded Smoodi to make nutritious food convenient and widely accessible. Our mission is to empower healthy habits by blending up the food industry. We designed, built, and patented the world's first robotic and self-cleaning smoothie machine. No mess, no labor! Please choose from our frozen Smoodi cups filled with 100% whole fruits and veggies, and watch our machine do the magic! We have two revenue streams: the commercial equipment and our proprietary cups. Think of it like a Keurig for smoothies! You can find smoodi in 25 states, from convenience stores to universities. We partnered with 15 of the largest national distributors and generated $1.7 million in lifetime sales, 75% earned in the last 12 months! Would you be ready to sip on this fruitful opportunity?
How did you prepare for the show?
There were three components to our preparation:
- We crafted a compelling pitch, infusing it with humor and fruit puns to ensure it would resonate and secure our spot in the boardroom
- We practiced our pitch relentlessly, even in the most unconventional situations. A memorable instance was during one of our founder runs that Morgan and I enjoyed. Coincidentally, Morgan visited Boston the week before our scheduled elevator pitch. During our run, in the last 10 minutes, when fatigue set in, we rehearsed our pitch multiple times on the go. By the end of our run, we had perfected our delivery!
- I watched season 9 to understand better the show's dynamics, the audience, the investors' preferences, and their deal-breakers. Insight from these episodes enabled us to fine-tune our approach and ask, ensuring we stepped into the boardroom with confidence.
What did you think was going to happen? What was different from your expectations?
Our primary objective was to flip the script: we wanted the investors to pitch to us rather than us negotiating based on our valuation. Having secured a strong series A funding round the previous year, we believed the best move for Smoodi was to bring one of these investors on board as a strategic advisor. To entice them, we proposed a royalty—a potential first for the show! We aimed to center boardroom discussions on Smoodi, not get bogged down in deal negotiations.
We also hoped an investor would try out our Smoodi system live. Marc, brimming with enthusiasm, was the first to jump in. He didn't just blend a Smoodi; he relished its flavor! There are risks in live demos, but, as I always say, "We're not just selling smoothies. We're selling an experience." Sharing this with investors and viewers was vital. I'm glad everything panned out beautifully!
Reflecting on our time in the boardroom, things happened incredibly fast: there was little room for extensive questions or follow-ups. I'm sure the investors had additional inquiries. I had hoped for a casual meet-up with the investors after the boardroom to delve deeper into the specifics and establish a more personal connection. We even lingered afterward, preparing smoothies for the entire production crew eager to sample our product. However, I recognize the logistical challenges, especially given that multiple companies were scheduled for pitching on an already jam-packed shooting day.
Why do you think they opened the doors?
There are several reasons they opened the doors to us:
- Presentation and energy: Our pitch was well-received and lauded perfectly by the investors. They were drawn to our infectious energy, enthusiasm, and quirky fruit puns.
- Strong traction: Beyond the presentation, the evidence of our success and strong traction surely caught their attention. Since our commercial launch, we've seen significant growth in revenue and the deployment of our fleet. Our business model is proven, boasting many tier-1 customers, and is ready to be scaled.
- Timely solution: Smoodi directly addresses some of today's most pressing challenges — labor shortage. The Smoodi system eliminates the need for human operators, as our blenders are fully self-serve and self-cleaning, inclusive of an automated sanitization cycle at night.
- Health consciousness: Post-pandemic, there's been a heightened consumer awareness about healthy nutrition. Our frozen, pre-packaged smoothie cups excel in this domain, offering only 100% natural fruits and vegetables without added sugars, concentrates, or preservatives. With the rise in trends like veganism and whole foods, Smoodi perfectly aligns with what consumers seek.
- Relevance for Gen Z: Smoodi caters to everyone but is perfectly tailored to Gen Z's preferences. This generation is arguably the most influential target audience for businesses today. Firstly, smoodi is an experience grounded in transparency and the freedom of customization. Additionally, Gen Z has emerged as the most environmentally conscious generation to date. smoodi is dedicated not only to offering a beverage that champions health but also to the environment. Our approach ranges from combatting food wastage through our frozen supply chain to adopting 100% natural, reusable, and compostable bamboo straws. Consequently, our product isn't just trendy; it's a relevant solution for today's world, making it an excellent fit for the show.
How did the negotiations go? Would you do anything differently?
Everything unfolded as dreamed. Two of the three investors, Pinky Cole and Marc Randolph, expressed strong interest in joining Smoodi as strategic advisors. Given the unique backgrounds and networks they each bring to the table, I genuinely wished we could've welcomed both.
What do you plan to do with your investment?
Our "investment" isn't in dollars but in the investor's time. Marc once said, "You can have my money or my time." While money is ubiquitous, the right person's time is invaluable. With his vast network and experience from startup to IPO, we hope that Marc can provide us with guidance and mentorship.
What did it mean to you personally to get in the doors and walk out with a win?
I'm deeply thankful that the doors opened because all three investors gave us a unanimous YES. It serves as further validation for our venture. When I launched Smoodi, most potential backers were skeptical about our business model and scalability. So, when those doors opened, and the unanimous interest was evident, I knew this was our moment and saw it as a mutual opportunity: they were eager to delve deeper and support our growth, and we sincerely hoped to strike a deal!
What is your advice for anyone thinking of applying to be on a future episode?
My first advice: practice your pitch diligently and aim for 55 seconds or less. When we practiced, ours clocked in at 55 seconds, but it took the full minute in the elevator. Blame it on the altitude!
Remember, you don't need to cram everything into your pitch. Sometimes, less truly is more. You can just zero in on critical aspects, like the problem you're addressing, your unique solution, and the traction you've gained. And since it's television, infuse some entertainment! If you ever hit a creative wall, turn to ChatGPT – you'll be amazed at how it can elevate your pitch. Also, please consider what you truly want from the show and the investor panel. When we first applied, our ask was quite different. But after studying previous episodes, it became evident we needed a change, and I'm grateful we made that shift. Above all, keep your nerves in check. The experience is a win-win, regardless of the outcome.
Season 10 of Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch is presented by Amazon Business with support from State Farm. New episodes stream on Wednesdays on Entrepreneur.com. Follow Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch on Facebook, YouTube and IGTV.