Last week I presented for the first time in public my new startup at NFX Guild. I had 4 minutes to present to 200 of the best investors in Silicon Valley. It’s the famous elevator pitch. You have to explain and convince fast.
4 minutes is plenty of time.
Anyone you talk about your project to has a thousand other things to think about, especially if they are investors. Everyone wants to talk to them. You won’t likely have more than 4 minutes of their attention anyway so practice to make your message clear in a very short time. I actually ended up presenting for 6 minutes…
Tell people it’s big, first.
In the first version of my presentation I was starting with I was building it. I started explaining the problem (in my case, it’s difficult for event organizers to find great speakers). The feedback I got that it was “too small”. So I put things in perspective and started with the events market size. $65 billion! They all need content and speakers. It’s big. Much better start. Even if I’m not building a billion dollar company.
Define the problem you’re solving
Once we assessed it’s big, you have to define the problem you are solving. Too many startups think they have something revolutionary but aren’t solving anything. Most unicorns solved very clear problems. Hotels were full and too expensive for AirBNB. The taxi experience sucked for Uber. Even the products that seem the most visionary are actually solving a problem. Google Glass was trying to have us all look less down at our phones especially while we were talking to someone else. Sergei Brin was obsessed by this issue. Too early.
Where is the revenue for you?
Investors want to understand how you startup can become a billion dollar company. It can be big and it’s solving a problem, great. Now where is the cash? What’s your market size? How are you going to expand? Where is the revenue for you? Say it, even if you don’t know, guess. I’m guessing too, I don’t really know, yet. In my case most of the revenue will come from events finding undiscovered speakers that don’t charge anything, yet. By making them visible we will expose a new supply to the demand of event organizers and expand the market size. Uber made anyone drive people around instead of just professional drivers. A huge new market was unlocked.
Make the room laugh
A good way to connect very early with your audience is to make them laugh. I explained how most event organizers regardless of how big and prestigious -like TED- were mostly using google spreadsheets to manage their content. It’s true, most events just make lists of speakers they’d like to invite. Then they try to get introductions, find their emails, contact them and see who they can get. It’s all manual and very slow. Insisting on the google docs made people smile. That wasn’t a joke, just a fun thing to say.
Make people feel your passion
I started my presentation by saying “This is my startup number seven. It’s important for me. I don’t do that every day.” I paused. “It will be the best one I start because this is about my passion: finding amazing people to put on stage”. Everyone understood it was very important to me. I wanted them to think “this is a great product-founder match” by saying “this is what I do already”. I could have said “this product is…. me”. Nothing worst than a founder not really “breathing” his product or startup story. You need to make people feel you are obsessed with it. How can an investor be enthusiastic about what you do if you aren’t yourself? Smile. Be enthusiastic. Rock it.
Show the first users or customers and how they use the product
You could give a product demo. But showing first users love it is even better. In our case we had a speaker, Lauren Kunze, explain how she found many speaking opportunities thanks to the platform. It took only a 15 second video to show how enthusiastic she is as she wants to grow a personal and business brand to be more successful. We want to discover amazing people and help them become rockstars. The video said it best. We also used the video as a welcome video on our home page, it’s here.