Today’s session of Pitch Practice was big, different, and a lot of fun. We had about 20-25 students from General Assembly’s Web Development Immersive class join us as part of their tour of Atlanta Tech Village, and we were giving away the remaining free tickets to the Techcrunch Meetup+Pitch-off next Tuesday night.
Because most of the people in the room were first time visitors to Pitch Practice, I started off the session with a brief introduction to the whole concept of Pitch Practice. That intro is summed up in the chicken-scratched drawing I created on the wall in the ATV event center.
Beginning with Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” concept from his 2009 TED Talk, we first realize that “people don’t buy our ‘what’; they buy our ‘why’“. Simon says it far more clearly and eloquently than I ever could, but the idea is that our “why” is our reason for being, and in the Lean Startup world, our reason for being is that we are solving a big, nasty, huge market problem. That’s our ‘why’, and that ‘why’ becomes the focus of our 30-second elevator pitch.
We focus on the problem, making it personal to our target audience and clear to any audience, so that they immediately “get it”, after which the very fact that we can even say “we solve this problem” is enough to get to the next meeting. And that, after all, is the purpose of the elevator pitch: get the next meeting.
We then identify our customer, meaning who pays us money. Our common example is Facebook. Facebook has 1.4 billion users, but it’s customers are advertisers. Ultimately, you serve, and are beholden to the entities who pay you money. They are your customers, and without customers, no business survives in the long term.
Finally, we ask for something. In the elevator, you might ask for a business card, so that you control the follow up. In our sessions, the entrepreneurs often ask for feedback, referrals, advice, or they may actually state that they are raising money, and ask for a meeting with any investors in the room.
Eight bold entrepreneurs delivered their 30-second, 3-minute, and 5-minute pitches to a crowd of over 50 people. We challenged their statements, provided helpful and courteous constructive criticism, and helped them become better at crafting their message and delivery. All 8 entrepreneurs received a ticket to the Techcrunch Meetup+Pitch-off next week in Atlanta.