Startup Lesson 4: Boil it down

OK, so now you have this idea, and you’ve talked to everyone and their mother-in-law about it, and it’s starting to make some sense…to YOU. Remember, you were wrong, right? Then you were wrong again, right? It’s ok. Anyone who has ever started a business and seen it through to the bitter end (good, bad, or ugly) has been wrong, and those instances of being completely wrong are worth several slides in their speaking engagements. But now you’ve got your arms around this thing.


Now boil it down. Simplify it. Say it so your 4 year old or your grandmother gets it and can easily tell anyone they know about your nutso idea. Can’t do it? Then you don’t understand it yet yourself.  Here’s a simple exercise that we teach at Pitch Practice to help the holders of new ideas boil them down. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What’s the problem you’re solving?
  2. What’s your solution to the problem?
  3. Who will pay for it? We call these “customers”.

Let’s use JonnyBird‘s Rivalry as an example. John is not participating in this writing, so it will be of great compliment to him if I get the answers to the above questions correct about his company.

  • What’s the problem? As a sales manager, using the SFDC UI to get actionable sales team metrics sucks.
  • What’s Rivalry’s solution to the problem? Simple, visually pleasing leader boards and other metrics to create competition within small inside sales teams.
  • Who will pay for it? SFDC users with inside sales teams of up to 25 sales pros

Did I get those answers right? Can you repeat that in 30 seconds?  If so, then you understand, and can repeat and pitch Jonnybird’s business.  Now what about yours?

Boil it down. The boiled down explanation is now your elevator pitch. Memorize it so it rolls of your tongue like the Pledge of Allegiance.  And for a safe place to come practice your pitch with people who want to help you with your pitch – and your business – come to Pitch Practice Friday’s at ATV.

What do you think?