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Who are you pitching to? At the very beginning it may be your business network or even your friends and family. You may be pitching to investors or to potential customers.

In all of these cases, your pitch needs to make people say “ahaa, I get it” within the first 10 seconds. If your idea doesn’t fully grab their attention quickly, they’ll forget about you and your business proposition within another 10 seconds.

Common elevator pitch mistakes

  • Superlatives and jargon
  • Excessive detail that obscures the basic thrust of the idea
  • Things that don’t immediately register as compelling reasons to adopt the product

Here’s what an elevator pitch for a software development product might look like with all of these mistakes:

“Revolutionary new software to help vehicle driver training schools on-board, progress and attain their mandatory personal development requirements more interactively and intuitively.”

Tips for a great pitch

When it comes to communicating ideas, simple wins. You can’t get a lot of words across in 10 seconds unless you’re rabbiting on at an incoherent pace. 10 seconds is about a line and a half.

Here are some essentials to include in your elevator pitch:

  • The people the software development product is for
  • Their pain
  • Some notion of how relief of pain helps them to ‘gain’

The result looks a bit like this:

“The first software to let driving instructors stay compliant to safety regulations without having to lose money blocking time out of their working day.”

Pitch perfect: start big and get small

The best 10 second pitches tend to have a great deal of research sitting behind them. Given the amount of work you’ll have done by the time you’re pitching, it can be helpful to start with a longer written pitch.

You’ll then boil this down to 10 seconds that you can easily commit to memory and throw into conversation.

Follow this format for your longer pitch:

  • Problem: Driving instructors lose 10% of their billable time a day because of inefficient safety compliance procedures
  • Product: We plan to launch an app that tracks instructor safety compliance
  • Differentiated value: So that driving instructors are legally covered and safe without losing money or time

For investment pitches, add on the following:

  • Market size: The market is estimated at £200m and growing at 10% a year
  • Revenue plan: Our sales plan projects revenues of £3m after 3 years, a market share of about 1.5%
  • Profit plan: At this point the financial plan shows the business generating annual profits of £800k
  • Value projection: This gives a valuation of £6m from a trade sale in 3 years, possibly to the AA or DIA
  • Team: Matt, Joe and Simon are the directors. Further technical and operational skills are needed
  • The ask: to achieve this we’re looking for £300k to further develop the product and the operations of the business.