I helped out at the WebInTravel Innovation Bootcamp as a start-up mentor. In this I was advising a start up on their 5 min pitch to investors. Four companies pitched, then broke with their mentors for a 1 hour workshop, then pitched again. Three of the four will get to hit the WIT Mainstage. More details here
I won't mention the name of the company that I helped out because their pitch was in real trouble from the beginning. After their initial 5 minute pitch I had no clear idea what their product was. This was not a question of complexity or being too deep in technology. Rather their pitch had so many different angles, commentary and ideas in it that the product could be anything from a dating site, social network, trip planning site, content site, niche online agent, community site and more.
The first job we had as mentors was to get the company to describe their product in a quick and clean format. I set them a challenge. Break for 5 minutes and come back to the mentor group with a tweet like 140 character description of the product - what a laughingly called later on a twelevator pitch. Our reasoning for this is that a start up has to be focused. To be focused you need a simple goal and product aim. If your product/business can't be described in a 140 characters then chances are different parts of the start up team have different ideas as to what the company is working on and will pull the company in different directions.
I knew the start up was in trouble when 15 mins later the team had still not returned with a product description tweet. In those 15 mins they were debating as a group what it is they wanted to do and constructed a long and involved idea. Eventually they did return but with closer to 280 characters of pitch.
We put together a new pitch for the rest of the period but the lack of focus in the start up was telling.
There are a lot of elements that a start-up needs to include in a venture pitch but before you do anything make sure you can describe your product in a short sharp twelevator pitch.
Thanks to splorp for this great photo via flickr