Elevators… don’t have PowerPoint

I watched each of my assigned elevator pitches four or five times.

My business experience is limited, but I have done real elevator pitches and worked on real venture pitches that were presented to investors. What I learned from that experience was you have to present yourself as a credible person: you are expected to invest your own time and money in the venture and dedicate yourself to making it happen. They need to know your real name and see your face and hear your voice and believe in your commitment. 9/10 of the elevator pitches I watched had no visual of the CEO. Many had no voice either. 

Elevator pitches are opportunistic. They are about bumping into people at meetings, gatherings, seminars, lunches and elevators. You use your elevator pitch on every person you meet to test interest and refine it. You work at getting your concept across using words and body language. That means you are really selling yourself first, and backing it up with a solid idea and enticing numbers that show upside for the investor. There is no PowerPoint in these situations.

My evaluations of the elevator pitches used the criteria provided by Prof. Vogt. If you think it’s cold, remember that it represents me asking myself whether I would hand over my retirement savings to you to make your idea happen AND get a return to support my retirement! Investors are accountable for their investments. They may be angels using their own retirement funds, or partners who stand to gain or lose solely from the income from their investments. Even non-profits are accountable for their investments both to their donors and sponsors (investors) and the public at large. 

I worked with one startup that had a cool idea and a working prototype, but the founder didn’t use his own product in his own business, and didn’t want to devote himself to his company because he had another business. Needless to say, the idea didn’t get investors because the founder wasn’t “invested” in his own venture.

I’d like to strongly encourage everyone to practice putting yourself “out there” — your face, your voice, your passion.

Elevator pitches are NOT just for business! I remember a friend telling me that when I introduce myself, I should be able to say “Who David is and why anybody should care.” That works socially, professionally, academically, and for investments.

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