10 Tips for Developing a Winning Elevator Pitch!

Since the launch of The Entrepreneur Cafe, LLC in 2006, I have always made it a point to build relationships with the banking industry and a variety of alternative lenders. These individuals have always been a great resource for referring clients and would often contribute to an annual report I do on small business banking. At a recent funding event held in Chicago, I was able to do something I previously hadn’t done before. This time I was sat in the crowd not only as a small business specialist or an intermediary connecting the entrepreneur with access to capital but among a host of angel investors, venture capitalist, and private equity folks evaluating startups looking for their next round of funding. The following are my tips for improving your chances of getting your pitch funded.

10 Tips for Developing a Winning Elevator Pitch 

  1. Keep it simple. Don’t make your pitch overly complicated. Do so and you run the risk of losing people.
  2. Be personable. You can be brilliant but if you can’t connect with people or if you ask for money with all of the warmth of Mr. Spock-your financing chances could be in jeopardy.
  3. Don’t forget to market. Try and work some basic marketing into your presentation. One entrepreneur concluded her pitch with the tagline “Shaving the world one lady at a time” and it was memorable.
  4. Piggyback on a hot industry. Does your idea ride the wave of a major trend? Is it in one of several hot industries such as medical technology, fin-tech or ed-tech? If so be sure to remind your audience.
  5. Communicate a real problem. The bigger the problem and the better your solution addresses that problem, the more likely your chances of getting funded.
  6. Feed them good data. We have become an analytics society that loves our data, stats, and key metrics. Find a way to present this information in a meaningful way.
  7. A cool demonstration doesn’t hurt.  A well-communicated pitch is important, but introducing a prototype or a really cool visual could be a game-changer.
  8. Don’t freeze! A stumble is understandable you can simply keep going. But the deer in headlights, the blank stare is the absolute worst. Just don’t do it.
  9. Establish credibility. Try to highlight your education, any business accomplishments and patents you might hold.
  10. Be innovative/disruptive? When I think disruption I can’t help but think of Amazon, Netflix, and Uber to name a few. However, on this day it was an artificial intelligence-powered platform for DIY landscapers (a $93B market) and a robotic bartender that served up amazing drinks minus the staff and waste that I found innovative.
As I listened to the 70 or so elevator pitches from entrepreneurs from as far away as Italy, my thoughts wandered beyond my best-practice pitch list toward the even bigger picture of the investment landscape. What should an entrepreneur look for in a long-term financial partner? How has the lending environment changed over the last decade? What role does diversity play in the overall investment infrastructure? At what point in the investment process should an entrepreneur look to pivot? There are still lots of questions going forward but one thing is for sure, it’s a good time to be a startup!
The Entrepreneur Cafe, LLC Copyright 2019


Cavanaugh L. Gray is the founder of The Entrepreneur Café, LLC. As a small business development specialist, he brings two decades of experience implementing entrepreneurial-based business strategies that help startups scale. He has served as a business advisor to Innovation Award Winners and is the author of The Entrepreneurial Spirit Lives (An Amazon Top Read) and Bridging the Entrepreneurial Divide. With more than a decade as an academic, he has served as Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at Loyola University Chicago. For more information on how to start, grow and succeed in small business Connect With Us at cgray@ecafellc.com, 877-511-4820 or on social media @TheECafeLLC. Copyright 2019.


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