Creating a Short, Short Pitch

Minister: Here we go. The short, short version.  Do you?

Lone Starr: Yes

Minister: Do you?”

Princess Vespa: Yes

Minister: Good! You’re married. Kiss her!

Dialogue from Spaceballs The Movie


Doing what I do, I get the chance to talk to angel investors and VC’s when their guard is down.  We get to talk not while they are trying to critique startups at places like UltraLight Startups (where they can actually be voted best panelist), ERA sessions or Disruptive Technologists meetings but when they are just kicking back and having a beer.  Like many of us, they are a bit different when they not onstage.

It is in this environment that you learn more about what makes them click.  My very informal assessment is that most are sensors.  Now, if you are familiar with it, the Meyers Briggs tool highlights four types of “personalities”; the sensor who is action oriented, the thinker who gathers lots of facts, the feeler who uses emotion as a guide and the intuiter who tends to rise above the fray.  So, what does my little analysis translate into – if the investors are action oriented and they see dozens of plans a day, the appropriate action to take in most cases would be rejection.

Thus, the desire for the “short, short version” – the art of effectively presenting your case in the shortest time possible.  Consider something like “my developed (evolving) product solves this problem for this size market.  It is like _____ .  “Now one of my clients had a phrase “says easy; does hard.”  Being brief does not mean being ineffective.  It is tough to do things small and that is what is required here.  But, it is also solidifying your vision.

I have seen loads of pitches and many took a long time to get to the point.  If you remember History of the World, Marcus Vendictus was relaying the story behind a hidden gift for Caesar. About 20 seconds into his pitch, Caesar blurts out “what’s under the sheet?”  Attention spans are short, so getting to the point quickly is a very effective tool.  Let me share with you three of the better examples:

Vizalytics described its approach as “big data for small business.”  You know their direction in five words.

Agolo sometimes refers to itself as a Google for Twitter.  Three words and you get it.

But, my all time favorite is actually not a pitch – but the picture on the first page of a deck.  Rob Cauccio was trying to get across an app that would be particularly helpful to male roommates.  It made it easy for them to cover basic household needs: everything from splitting the rent payment to the more mundane stocking of household goods.  The deck cover was the picture of a male hand reaching for an empty toilet paper tube.  You know the saying; a picture is worth a thousand words.

So, when you are developing your deck, think of the famous elevator pitch – you know the one where you have a VC captive for 12 floors.  Just make believe he is getting off on the third floor and you will do fine.


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