by: John Caddell
The concept of the elevator pitch is likely as old as the elevator itself.
(Picture via about.com)
A brief definition from Wikipedia: "An elevator pitch (or elevator speech) is a brief overview of an idea for a product, service, or project. The pitch is so called because it can be delivered in the time span of an elevator ride (say, thirty seconds)."
But lost in the conventional wisdom about elevator pitches (what should they contain? etc.) is another question:
Why are they needed?
Entrepreneurs often wrestle with this question. Primarily because creating an elevator pitch is difficult. On the one hand, because an entrepreneur knows her own vision so deeply she can find it hard to summarize. Or she doesn't know it well enough to be able to summarize it.
So, the easiest thing to do is fold the tent. No elevator pitch.
Not so fast. If you don't have an elevator pitch, you will fail to reach many people who could be helpful to you, or who could benefit from your product or service. Such as:
- People you meet. That guy eating alone during the conference might be somebody who could be important to you. Or he will know somebody, or know somebody who knows somebody.
- Friends. They will ask you "What are you doing now?" And many, many of them will want to help you if they can.
- People who happen onto your web site. (How much time do you think you have with them? Thirty seconds, if you're lucky)
And finally, if you can't summarize your business idea, product, service or business itself into an elevator pitch, chances are it's not well-formed enough to be successful anyway.
So for all the reasons described above, develop your elevator pitch. (If you'd care to comment, I'd love to see your own elevator pitch. If it's short enough, it should fit well within the comment block!)