Top 10 Tips for Your Elevator Pitch
Elevator Pitch: The Top 10 Things You Need to Include for Angel Investors
As an entrepreneur, you need to have an elevator pitch for your business. Rehearsing and memorizing this short 30-60 second spiel about your business will make investing significantly easier. There will be many opportunities as you’re networking to give a short pitch to a prospective angel investor, client, vendor, or another interested party. When that time comes, not having to fumble for words can make the difference between securing funding or a business deal, or having the other person walk away.
The elevator pitch has had a prominent place throughout business history. Rumor has it that aspiring screenwriters in Hollywood would create these short pitches. Then, if they happened to ride the elevator with a director or other movie mogul, they could recite these speeches – advocating for their newest creative idea – to these unsuspecting tycoons of the movie world.
Nowadays, people aren’t pitching their ideas in elevators to unprepared tycoons. You’ll be more likely to give your pitch at a cocktail event. Still, the power and wisdom of saying a lot in as few words as possible is one of the most formidable abilities in business. One of the most famous examples of elevator pitches happened in Silicon Valley. Steve Jobs wanted John Sculley to join Apple. He pressured him, called him, and offered him $50 million to leave Pepsi and work for Apple. Sculley refused.
Jobs set up a final meeting in New York. He made his pitch. Sculley refused. Then, as Jobs was leaving, he said to Sculley:
That question made Sculley think. After thinking about it, he agreed and joined Apple. The money didn’t do it, but rather a short elevator pitch that brought Jobs’ coveted CEO onboard.
The ability to make a good pitch for your business is just as essential. But many of these pitches don’t quite hit the mark from the perspective of an angel investor. When you’re crafting your elevator pitch, here are the top 10 things you absolutely must include to catch the investor’s attention and get that second meeting!
Table of Contents
- Your Elevator Pitch Must Be Brief
- Talk About What Your Business Does
- Discuss What Makes Your Company and Your Team Unique
- Yes, Talk About Money
- Include Facts in Your Elevator Pitch
- Be Upfront About Your Goal After the Elevator Pitch
- Consider Including a Question at the Beginning
- If Possible, Work in How They Can Help
- End With an Enticing or Exciting Question
- Spend Some Time to Craft an Impressive Elevator Pitch
Even though this point is intangible, it’s at the top of the list because it is so vital. The whole purpose of an elevator pitch is to provide the best possible description of your business in as few words as possible. Angel investors, like most people, are busy. When you’re giving your pitch, the goal isn’t to get an investment. The goal is to get a meeting to discuss an investment! Therefore, you need to include as much as you can in about 45-60 seconds. If your pitch goes over a minute, you’ll lose their attention span.
Many people believe that angel investors make decisions solely based on how much money they will make. While that’s partly true, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Most angel investors make the decisions they do, in part, because they feel passionate about the business. Maybe they have lots of experience making phone games, and that’s what your company does. Perhaps they have a rich history in the enterprise space, and your company will revolutionize the way people do business.
Regardless of the reason, make sure you emphasize what your business does to catch their attention. Angel investing isn’t strictly dollars and cents. Many times, talking about a genuine opportunity to change the world will pique an angel investor’s interest more than selling sugared water.
There are thousands of companies out there creating new apps, writing games, creating medical equipment, etc. To show why an angel investor should pick your company, make sure you talk about what makes your business unique! Is your game taking the world by storm? Will your medical equipment solve a public health issue? These are the aspects of your business that will excite prospective angel investors about your company.
Along those lines, it helps to include a little bit about what makes your team unique. Angel investors often don’t invest money solely because of you – they invest in the group. A 60-second speech isn’t enough to go into all the details, but phrases like, “we have a diverse group of employees, including two leads that used to work for Big Name Tech in this space,” are ways to describe your team in a few words.
Again, the focus is on what makes you unique. Even though your company’s domain might be the same as others, the solution you arrive at will be unique because the team you have is unique. Focus on that to intrigue the angel investor!
Of course, you also want to address the fact that you believe this will be a profitable investment. You don’t need to emphasize this repeatedly, but including ways in which the prospective investor will make money off of it helps your cause.
Along those lines, including something about the size of the investment you’re looking for (even if it’s just a range) is often helpful. An elevator pitch for a $100,000 investment might be intriguing to one investor but not to the person that only wants to commit $20,000. Clarifying what financial commitment you want out of the next meeting will go a long way to ensuring that goes well.
Include metrics in your elevator pitch, but only the high-level ones. How many monthly active users do you have? Are you profitable yet, or not? These are the types of high-level metrics that investors love to hear because it helps them understand whether or not this is a business that interests them. Angel investors meet all sorts of entrepreneurs. Some will make their pitches on the fly while jogging outside on FaceTime. Others will take the time to ensure their speeches include all the relevant facts, metrics, and other information.
The latter group of entrepreneurs tends to find it easier to secure investments. Be prepared with metrics – your prospective angel investor will appreciate it!
This point is related to the one above, but it’s worth calling out on its own. Many angel investors get people from all over the world, telling them about their latest ideas. Some people have a genuine business – with a proper business plan, corporate structure, and a real desire to succeed. Others have a vague idea that they may or may not do if they can convince someone else to foot the bill.
The latter group tends to have elevator pitches filled with “fluff.” Buzzwords, corporate-speak, and forward-looking statements fill these pitches. The other group has facts because they’re serious about running the business. Their speeches have metrics, statistics, and trustworthy content about why they make for a good investment.
As you might have guessed, angel investors have become keenly aware of how to separate fact from fiction. Therefore, when constructing your speech, make sure that you include lots of factual information about your company and refrain from overloading it with too many buzzwords. Even if your company is genuine, it will make an angel investor tune out.
Is your goal to get another meeting? Is your goal to have them discuss the opportunity more with you now? When giving your speech, make sure you include tangible next steps if the investment intrigues them. For example, you could say something like, “if this investment sounds good to you, would you like to set up a 30-minute meeting to discuss it further?”
If the response is yes, make sure that you have an easy way to find the free time or share your contact info. Business cards work but can feel dated. You can also send them an email or text with your contact information. Better yet, ask if you can call them for a follow-up!
Questions are often a fantastic way to lead into how your company is solving a problem. For example, starting with phrases like, “wouldn’t it be great if we could make companies bank smarter?” or “wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could reduce car accidents by 50%?” will often attract the ears of an angel investor.
It also allows you to gauge the investor’s reaction. If it piques their interest, then you can explain precisely how your startup will solve the problem. If it doesn’t, then this investor might not be the right one for you since they may not be as passionate about the space.
If you know some background information about the angel investor and know why they would be a good fit for your startup, you should include that in the speech you give to them. For example, let’s say you’re creating a new mobile game. If you say something like, “with the work you did at ABC Games turning XYZ into a multi-million dollar brand, I thought you would be the perfect fit to help grow my startup,” that helps the investor understand why you selected them for the pitch.
Most angel investors want more to do with a company than writing a check, so spelling out precisely why you’d love them to come on board and probably join the board of directors is beneficial.
“So, uh, does this sound like an opportunity you might like?”
This question is not particularly enticing or exciting. It also leaves the door open for a response that isn’t yes or no. You might get something like “uh, maybe,” or “I’ll think about it, thanks.” The angel investor may say those words with the best intentions, but once they get busy doing other things, they forget about this pitch.
Make sure your elevator pitch ends with an interesting question. For example, if your discussion is about a mobile game, you might ask, “Can I send you a link to the game? Can we take 30 minutes next week to talk about it and a potential investment? I promise it’s a fun game!” If your startup is developing a new accounting system, it could be something like, “I believe this software has the potential to make accounting easier for most small businesses. What software does your company use? Can I show you a demo of ours?”
These questions are merely examples, but they highlight the general point: start with something memorable (describe what you’re trying to solve) and end with something significant (also an enticing question). Psychologists have shown an interesting phenomenon called the “serial-position effect.” When presented with a sequence of items, humans are most likely to recall the first and last items. In the case of your elevator pitch, the prospective investor will most likely remember what you say at the beginning and the end. If you start strong and end strong, you’ll leave a favorable impression in their mind well after they walk away from the meeting!
As an entrepreneur, there will be many networking events and opportunities where you might run into prospective investors and have a limited time to entice them to meet with you a second time. Therefore, when the opportunity arises, you should be as prepared as you possibly can! Rehearse your speech and put these ten things into it to give your elevator pitch the best possible chance!
Keep your speech as factual as possible, highlight the positives of your company, and, most importantly, emphasize why a prospective investor would be wise to cut you a check and join your board of directors. Bear in mind that angel investors get many pitches, so emphasize why your company and team are unique. Put yourself in the angel investor’s shoes and look at your speech as objectively as possible. If you can honestly say that the short address would intrigue you enough to set up the next meeting, you know it’s time to get out there and start pitching!
About the Author
Jonathan Hung is one of the most active angel investors in Southern California, his mission is to drive value creation within each portfolio company. In support of this mission, he serves as Co-Managing Partner at – Unicorn Venture Partners.
Jonathan and his team target investments in US companies that have global market potential with a focus on long-term growth expansion to East Asian markets.
Jonathan developed his investing prowess as a Managing Member for his family office fund, J Heart Ventures, which made investments in start-up companies such as Gyft, ChowNow, Miso Robotics, Clover Health, Bitmain, to name a few startups he funded.
Jonathan has various degrees from the University of Southern California, London School of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.