Last Sunday, I visited to participate in “The Art of Elevator Pitch” Panel Discussion at Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. The discussion was very informative. Honestly speaking, I did not know what is an Elevator Pitch before I decided to participate in the contest when I received an email from my Toastmasters International District. But I knew I am going to participate. So, I immediately replied to the email and got the preliminary round of questions. I am attaching the file with the answers here. Please do feel free to comment whatever you feel like.
What did I get out of the Contest?
- Networking: I feel very good to network with some of the amazing people in the industry. Having entrepreneurial pursuits myself, it was just an amazing platform for meeting future business leaders (students of IIM Bangalore), Venture Capitalists such as Griffin David, Balaji and Ian Faria, Private Equity Players such as Samir Inamdar and many more. And of course, not to forget very enthusiastic Toastmasters. In fact, I got an invitation to speak over the IIM Alumni Toastmaster chapter and I plan to do so for some of my Advanced Communicator Bronze level, Speeches by Management Category.
- Special: The session became special in personal term also. After a very very long time, I had a crush on someone there. Let me tell you that I am not the one who can fall for anyone any time. Someone needs to be very special to match my frequency and vibrancy and I felt the same with someone there. It is a different case that I did not do anything at that moment of time, though I wanted to with all good intentions. Somehow I decided to hold back for some more time and if future will permit, I will do the necessary. No doubt, the girl is special and I could feel that. I call the girl as Miss AC. So, Miss AC, hope to meet you soon but in a different fashion
- Elevator Pitch: Well, this is the instant take away from the session. And I am going to discuss more in details on this with my version of the elevator pitch with the final case study.
What is an Elevator Pitch?
Elevator Pitch is a short speech of about 2 minutes, generally given by entrepreneurs to the VCs or angel investors. It derives its name from the fact that it takes exactly 2 minutes to go from the lobby to the top level where the VC has his office. And one gets just two minutes to leave the VC with the curiosity and quest. In my view, an elevator pitch is successful if you can get the business card out of the VC.
What kind Elevator Pitches can be?
I feel elevator pitches can be anything. It can be about yourself, a product, a service, a group, an organization and often related to marketing campaigns, branding and public relation activities. Why is it important? Generally, we don’t know with whom am I going to sit next to in my flight. We don’t get any clue with whom I am going to go in an elevator. So, suppose I bump into a potential VC all of a sudden and what I get is just 2 minutes to generate interest into me and my idea. In my view, it generates a lot of interest in the field of consultancy also. What do you feel how much time a CEO has when you are on a consulting project with the that CEO’s firm? Talk to the management consultants and I can bet most of them will say that they get the time to pitch their ideas and solutions exactly equal to the time one takes to walk from CEO office to his car. And trust me when I say that its not only your firm’s reputation that is at stake but also your own reputation and credibility too.
What constitutes a good elevator pitch?
- First and foremost, you must understand that elevator pitch is not your business plan rather it is the door to getting the funding for your plan by getting the business card of the VC or scheduling a meeting with the VC.
- Try to connect emotionally both at the personal and professional level. What I mean here is you should be able to relate your idea with the person and at the same time, take his curiosity level to such an extent that he makes the next attempt to reach to you. One very good example that I would like to cite here is taken from the real life experience of Griffin David, discussed during the panel discussion at IIMB. Griffin David is a Venture Capitalist and an Entrepreneur in himself, who has traveled a journey from SemiConductor Chips to Potato Chips today. He is currently the CEO of Bread Basket Pvt Ltd, having founded it. He cited an incident where his team was pitching a business plan in front of potential investors. They somehow manage to connect with them prior to the meeting and went for an excursion to SONA in Europe. SONA seem to be known for a beach but a special beach-nude beach. They all went, enjoyed, in fact went to give a television interview also with only their heads showing up. But the effect of the trip was seen when his team was given 45 minutes for the presentation while others were given only 15 minutes. Did you see the difference what an emotional connect can make? In yet another incident mentioned by one of the panelist (sorry, I don’t remember who was it exactly), he mentioned that once in an attempt to raise money from a bank, he was facing lot of issues. One of his friend’s wife discussed the problem with the wife of the banker. The banker’s wife went and told his husband that the person in question is like a son to her and you must approve his loan. Ultimately, the loan passed. The panelist came to know about the incident much later in one of the parties. Can you guys relate now? Can you guys make what I am thinking? EQ is one of the biggest weapon and i fused properly, can do wonders in your not only personal but professional life also. We are all human beings and an angel investor or a VC is no exception. Our daily lives are full of emotions and almost 90% of the time, our decisions are based on our emotions and feelings.
- Understand your audience. This hold true in case of any speech. Each person is different. Understanding your audience will help in pitching your idea in the most effective way. How can you do that? Thats where your networking connections are going to work for you.
- As like an speech, according to me, an elevator pitch also has a certain format and guidelines: Be crisp and ensure brevity because at the day, you only have 2 minutes. Your introduction is your selling point. If you cannot connect with your opening statement, forget it. It is same as the FIRST impression is the LAST impression. So be very careful how are you going to begin. Be prepared with your best 3 points to support your statement. A lot of my management consultant friends tell me that the the RULE OF THREE is an accepted norm of making your points in a business setup. So, these three points should be your best selling points and should generate curiosity in the minds of the VC. At the end, end it with a strong conclusion. I feel the conclusion should not only be persuasive but also leave the VC thinking, thus, prompting him to give away his business card and seeking to get an appointment for a detailed discussion.
- Of course, do look out for your body language and voice modularity. Nothing can substitute an appropriate body language with good command over the voice modulation. This is where Toastmasters is going to help you the most.
What are the other potential areas where elevator pitches can be useful?
Well, when I sat and thought about it, I never knew I could relate it to so many circumstances. Some of the areas where I feel an elevator pitch can help you are DATING, JOB INTERVIEW, PROMOTIONS in jobs and PROPOSALS (e.g an author pitching his book to the publishers or a story writer pitching his story for a movie to a producer). The most interesting among the list is DATING. Imagine you are standing alongside a beautiful girl (say Katrina Kaif) and you have got one shot at her before she disappears in the world of invisible strangers again. Your 2 min shot can give you the mobile number or a date. On the other side, a bad pitch may land you in prison, labeling you as a stalker. In other words, 2 minutes can decide whether she is going to be your life partner. Similarly, each one of knows, the way one walks and introduces himself is the 75% success of the interview. Imagine yourself in an elevator with CEO of your company and you know your skills are not well utilized by your current boss and you get only 2 minutes to showcase what you got and you can do for the organization if given the right opportunity. Finally, here is my version of the elevator pitch that I wrote for the case-study presented at IIMB for the finalists:
Case Study: ElevatorPitch_Stage2_CaseStudy
My Elevator Pitch: Would you like your girlfriend/wife to look like Katrina Kaif or Toon Toon? If given a free hand, wouldn’t you wake up early in the morning and go to gym with your wife to keep her in shape more than yourself? One will walk with broad chest and full prestige if your girlfriend/wife is good looking and smart. So, wouldn’t you like her to look good in her office too? I am sure you will.
I am Rita and I propose to bring an exclusive line of garments for women for office wear. From college to an office, from home to a boardroom, I present to you an elegant and exclusive design of apparel for Indian women. I am sure you will agree with me when I say that women spend more than men on looking good and beautiful. The most prominent proofs are endless research on spending habits of men and women and the time a woman spends on dressing up. And of course, not to ignore your own wallet and the savings you barely manage to make at the end of the month. No more sarees or executive shirts and skirts from Allen Solley or so, Rita & Co. will bring a premium line of designs exclusively designed to the taste of Indian women. Recent feedbacks from the students of IIM Bangalore, who have already taken the designs to their summer internships have felt more comfortable and confident filled with positive energy after wearing my designs.
So, what are you waiting for? Tighten your seat belts as we, together, can bring a sea wave of changes with Rita brands flaunting in offices and board rooms and change the image of a working Indian women to a more confident, elegant and stylist business women.
Hey, please feel free to comment your views on the elevator pitch. I would love to hear from you 🙂