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Almost No One Gets the Venture Elevator Pitch Right

Throughout the millennia of human existence, storytelling has always had a powerful role. Stories are a way to understand and explain to ourselves the world and all its events. They give us a sense of cause and effect, problem and solution, good and bad, and heroes and villains. And a great story enables us to not only understand its meaning but also to share it with others.


The Venture Elevator Pitch is the story of your venture. And the best elevator pitches, just like the best stories, almost always have these basic elements:


  1. The struggle, unmet needs, and pain points in today’s situation. The struggle should be great and rapidly growing
  2. The breakthrough solution that resolves these unmet needs and pain points. Why is the solution possible now, and why hasn’t it been done before? What was your key insight?
  3. The alternative solutions and why the breakthrough solution is far better
  4. The overwhelming benefits of the breakthrough solution
  5. The team and why it is the best team for this venture
  6. Why the solution is believable and like a great story, inspires surprise and delight.


The elevator pitch has to be short and compelling. Two or three paragraphs is ideal. It needs to be that way because founders need to use it to communicate the key concepts to their teams, their investors, their customers, and their partners. And most of all, if you tell the story well, everyone who hears it will, in turn, be able to share the story and the elements above with others.


If you’re talking to venture capitalists about your venture, the elevator pitch is crucial not just because you need to tell them your story, but because if they really like it, they need to talk to their partners about it. And if the partner can’t explain it to their other partners in a minute or two, they won’t be interested. That will be the end of your chance for venture investment with them. And that’s what happens most of the time.


If someone is introducing your venture to an investor, their first note shouldn’t be just a kind remark about it. And I wouldn’t suggest that they automatically attach the venture deck to their note. Instead, they should make a brief positive introduction and include the elevator pitch. Then if the investor responds positively and asks to have the venture deck, it’s a great beginning.


Every venture I’ve ever helped found, without exception, had a good or great elevator pitch. And the greatest founders were great storytellers. Here is a slightly modified version of the original elevator pitch of Siri when we were first proposing it to venture capitalists:


—-------------


Siri- The SRI "Mobile Assistant" Venture


Access to web services through the mobile device is a multi-billion dollar opportunity that has been gated by the pain of the user experience. Hunt and peck browsing and keyword searches are difficult, time-consuming, and ineffective in gaining information and completing transactions. Siri will provide a fundamental breakthrough to this experience.


With the application Siri, the user can, in plain english on a mobile device or desktop, find, execute and deliver the best information and services directly. (via speech or text). Siri doesn't just provide links - it satisfies the user's needs and completes the transactions. For example, the user can ask in one sentence "find me the status of United 77 and get me a hotel room tonight" and watch it immediately happen. Just ask... Siri, your internet assistant will take care of it.


Siri is a new venture in the mobile and consumer internet space that takes the manual part of using the internet out of the equation.The patented technologies required for Siri provides a seamless integration of user request (through keyword, text, natural language) to an AI driven "active ontology" that executes the request and mediates the transaction.


A first prototype has already been developed, and a fully commercializable product will be delivered in less than 12 months. Beyond this, again using AI technologies, Siri will be able to learn from the user, dynamically creating user profiles, increasing its accuracy over time. “


—--------------------


Now let’s parse it according to the elements above.


  • The unmet needs and situation today

Access to web services through the mobile device is a multi-billion dollar opportunity that has been gated by the pain of the user experience. Hunt and peck browsing and keyword searches are difficult, time-consuming, and ineffective in gaining information and completing transactions.


  • The breakthrough solution

With the application Siri, the user can, in plain English on a mobile device or desktop, find, execute and deliver the best information and services directly. (via speech or text). Siri doesn't just provide links - it satisfies the user's needs and completes the transactions. For example, the user can ask in one sentence "find me the status of United 77 and get me a hotel room tonight" and watch it immediately happen. Just ask... Siri, your internet assistant will take care of it.


  • The alternative solutions

Siri doesn't just provide links - it satisfies the user's needs and completes the transactions.


  • The overwhelming benefits of the breakthrough solution

Siri doesn't just provide links - it satisfies the user's needs and completes the transactions. For example, the user can ask in one sentence "find me the status of United 77 and get me a hotel room tonight" and watch it immediately happen. Just ask... Siri, your internet assistant will take care of it.


  • The team

Not mentioned.


  • Why it is believable

The patented technologies required for Siri provides a seamless integration of user request (through keyword, text, natural language) to an AI driven "active ontology" that executes the request and mediates the transaction.

A first prototype has already been developed, and a fully commercializable product will be delivered in less than 12 months. Beyond this, again using AI technologies, Siri will be able to learn from the user, dynamically creating user profiles, increasing its accuracy over time.


In truth, If I were creating this elevator pitch today, I’d do better.


  • I didn’t mention the outstanding team and why they are the best team for this venture at all!


  • I didn’t explain why the solution is possible now and why it wasn’t done before.


  • I glossed over the overwhelming benefits of Siri, such as market size and potential revenue. For example, the market that Siri could address was the entire consumer market using iphones. In 2008 there were 10M iphone users, and the number was rapidly compounding. Also, at the time, over 80% of users accessing web services, they did not complete the request for information. That was a major pain point and loss of revenue for partner websites.


  • I didn’t discuss how Siri would make money. Our approach was that when a user asked Siri a question, such as “find a hotel reservation in San Francisco near the Embarcadero for 2 people tomorrow night,”, Siri would find a website to answer the user’s question, such as hotels.com, and lead the user to them. The website would then pay Siri a transaction fee (called a lead generation fee). These fees would potentially bring Siri to $100M in revenue in less than 3 years.


  • We didn’t even mention the “surprise and delight” opportunities for Siri. For example, if we made a flight reservation that had connecting flights with Siri, and the flight was going to be late, Siri could tell you and suggest another flight.


Now let me make an offer to you instead of my improving the Siri elevator pitch in this post. If the readers of this post send me elevator pitches, I will select one of them that I feel has promise and critique it. If you like, I’ll critique it in a post. If not, I’ll send one of you a personal critique.


Just sign up to Platform at https://os.platformstud.io/guild/optin and then send your elevator pitch to norman@platformstud.io.







Norman Winarsky

Oct 27, 2022  - 606 views

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