Formula for a minimum viable first pitch by Steve Jobs
I hear a lot of short pitches. Many are too short. Most too long, people start rambling.
They usually don’t reach a level of “minimum viable pitch”. A minimum viable pitch would give the listener enough information to know if he’s interested in hearing more or not. Then you can start formulating questions or get back in touch later.
And because first impressions count, a lot of opportunities are lost because of this.
I did some research into pitches, mostly how Steve Jobs did it and created a formula for a minimum viable pitch:
- Describe the problem in a way that the listener can relate to (or believe).
- Describe what you’re doing, focusing on what’s different with it.
- Describe how it’s going to change the world.
And try to keep it that simple. I’m sure there are a lot of ways to do even better pitches for every business, but usually people don’t even reach a minimum level. If you are sure you can do it better than with that formula, do it your way. Usually though the best pitchers stick to a format they know and don’t make it too complicated
Maybe you can try it on your idea or company and write it in the comments? Would be interesting to see how it works for you.
I’m going to show one example. (Sorry, really busy now) I randomly picked a company that was recently added to crunchbase: Coderwall.
Coderwall is a site for developers to profile what projects they are up to and learn from others.
Development skills are needed but it’s difficult to learn how to code. The best way is to learn from others but it’s difficult to set-up. We’ve created a site where developers automatically profile what they’re working on, learn to code and become experts with the help of others. There are a lot of people out there trying to learn how to code or wanting to learn, but it’s hard. We’re going to make it possible for a lot more people to become good coders.
Disclaimer: The pitch is not the most important thing in your startup, but you should be able to get it right. Otherwise there’s something wrong.
If what you’re doing actually doesn’t solve a problem, you don’t have a compelling solution and it can’t really change the world, this will not work, but no pitch in the world will. Change project.
Even though the formula is short, you should take time to figure out alternatives for each of the three steps and then find the best combination. Maybe ask your friends for input as well, an outside perspective will help a lot, and giving them a formula to follow should maket it easier to gather good-quality feedback.
Why do people have this problem?
There are lots of reasons for non-viable pitches, but mainly it’s because of the knowledge gap between the pitcher and the receiver.
People just have a need to cram too much knowledge into their pitch.
If you try to cram all of the important aspects of your business into one sentence it becomes incomprehensible. Something like “A universal distributed automatic connector”. I guess that could mean something, but I have no idea what it actually is.