We’ve all seen the elevator pitch templates. They go something’s like:
“Hi I’m <name> and I’m from <company name>. We make <product> for <market vertical> that helps customers solve <big problem>. What makes us different is <product differentiator>.”
These are very important points and the questions require deep thought and knowledge of your business to answer succinctly. However thinking that a fill-in-the-blank template will help you kill it is delusional. Thus us akin to playing Mad-Libs, a pen and pencil game form my childhood.
In Mad-Libs players blindly fill in nouns and verbs without knowing the context. Then the resulting story is read back with deliberately hilarious results. To see how “funny” the above Mad-Lib can be, let’s fill in the blanks for some well know companies:
“Hi, I’m Mark and I’m from The Facebook. We make an online social network for college students that help recreate the college social experience without needing to leave their dorm room and actually meet anyone. What makes us different is that we are exclusive to Harvard, so you don’t need to worry about riff raft from MIT or Boston College polluting your social network”.
“Hi, I’m Larry and I’m from Google. We make an Internet search engine for just about everyone that lets your find cat pictures and just about anything else on the world wide web. What makes us different is that we rank the information based on how many other sites link into it, so you don’t need to waste your time with the really bad cat pictures”.
“Hi, I’m Steve and I’m from Apple Computer. We make the worlds best computer for the average consumer that lets them experience the marvels of the computer age. What makes us different is that everything is integrated so there is no need to solder or assemble different components”.
Ok, you get the drift (and also that I’m not the most hilarious writer. I’m sure you can do better in the comments).
The point is that following a template robs your story of your personality. Don’t use these templates for your pitch. Take them as a starting point and turn them into your own. A corollary is when filling in forms for incubators, accelerators, angels, government grants, or anything else that gives you canned questions in a template, it’s OK to throw it out and use a format that tells YOUR story. Its about how awesome you are, not how well you can fill in Mad-Libs.
Please, PLEASE, give me funnier start up Mad-Lib pitches in the comments!