Defining a Pitch

Knowledge, Skills and Attitude: Defining a Venture with a “Pitch”

Module 1 outlined definitions for the terms entrepreneur and intrapreneur. You may wish to review those definitions before proceeding.

One of the most difficult tasks for any entrepreneur or intrapreneur is to evaluate their venture objectively. It’s too easy to be consumed by your own good ideas. Therefore, for the rest of this course, we would like you to assume the role of *Educational Venture Analyst* (*EVA* for short). This is the person near the top of any enterprise or market who is meant to understand all the relevant factors of mission, capability, economy, competition, etc., and is responsible to undertake the dispassionate due diligence with respect to the potential viability of any proposed learning technology enterprise or initiative.

This person then takes responsibility for committing the resources to fund and foster that enterprise on its way to success. In a large government department or a corporation that is of some size – say, in the top 2000-3000 in the world – that person might be known as a Chief Learning Officer, a Chief Knowledge Officer or (sometimes) a Chief Information Officer. In a school system it might be a principal, superintendent, or regional official. In a college or university it might be a department head, dean or vice-president. In an education business it might be a business unit manager, vice president or CEO. In an open educational marketplace it might be a bank manager, “angel” investor or venture capitalist.

In this course, through the examples and resource links we provide, you will be expected to continuously play these kinds of roles and respond appropriately. For example, in discussions and papers please provide contexts for your contributions such as, “As a venture capitalist, I believe…” Your student colleagues and instructors will do the same, providing a community environment for the critical analysis of venture decisions. The goal of this role playing is that, if you can understand the motivations, methods and perspectives of these risk-takers, you will be better prepared to earn their support, or become one of them, as your own professional goals dictate.

If you really were an Educational Venture Analyst, as you are now emulating, you would spend a significant portion of your time responding to “pitches” from people who have ventures they want you to support. You may have heard of the “elevator pitch”, which means to succinctly and cogently communicate your “value proposition” (exactly why your venture is sure to succeed) within the duration of an elevator ride (the mythical attention span of any prospective sponsor). This is actually very real. You have to be able to condense your concept into a compelling 30-second sound byte. If your elevator pitch is successful then you might be asked to provide a much longer and more detailed formal presentation of your venture idea.

Some typical 60-second, “front-door” pitches, followed by questions from analysts can be found at  These short pitches will give you a sense of how it works.  For a great example of the seductiveness of new technologies when pitched well, have a look at the Pattie Maes TED presentation (and take some time to critically analyse the business sense of what you saw).  You might also enjoy the pitch by David Heinemeire Hansson (Ruby on Rails, 37Signals) at Startup School 2008 about the failed logic of most startup pitches.

Because we expect you to design a pitch at the conclusion of this course, we have provided one of our own that outlines the value propositions we see for students in ETEC 522. Take a look at our streaming video pitch as instructors and begin to think about how you might evaluate its effectiveness. In the next section we’ll give you criteria that you can use to evaluate venture pitches from the ETEC 522 pitch pool. We’ll also ask you to contribute your responses to four sample pitches in an Activity later in this Module.


The purpose of our pitch is to help you further understand the course and your instructors. It is shorter and more conversational than the other pitches, really just an orientation to the video format of the pitches yet to come. Please consider carefully the deeper and different set of insights available in this kind presentation and use this as a context for your analysis of the pitches and materials yet to come.