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Equity Financing: Creating a Powerful Elevator Pitch

By Julie King |

At some point you may find that your business needs more money than friends, family, and traditional lenders are willing to provide. It's time to look for a higher risk equity lender – either an angel investor or a venture capitalist – to help you access additional funds. It's time to prepare an effective elevator pitch.

An elevator pitch is the industry jargon for the one minute explanation of your business model. The phrase comes from the common practice of quickly pitching your business idea to a possible investor during a short elevator ride. You have only a few minutes to grab the person's attention. These seven steps will help you create a compelling story.

  1. Tell it from the investor's point of view
    When approached with an opportunity every investor will be asking the same question: what's in it for me? You have sixty seconds to get this person's attention and convince them to schedule a longer meeting with you. You will get that second meeting if you effectively capture their interest and attention and connect with the investor's desire, whether that is to make more profits or to support a business with a good social cause. If you can, research the investor before your first meeting.

  2. Clearly define the opportunity – in layman terms
    For the moment put aside your interest in the technical details and ask yourself one simple question: What is the essence of my business opportunity? Have you found a way to do something important more efficiently? Do you have a unique approach to a large market that will enable you to succeed where others have failed? Once you have answered this question write the answer down in a single sentence, written in lay terms. While the opportunity should be clear and easy to understand, it should also be compelling to a potential investor.

  3. Money, markets and models
    Your goal is to make profits by selling something to a particular market. After the introduction it's time to tell the story of your planned business venture. Once again, it is important to focus on the big picture. Put aside the marketing prose and focus on your key advantages from a big picture perspective. For example, if your business is already established in an industry and plans to open an associated company that will provide a value-added product to the same market, this should be your focus. If your venture's success will be based on technological innovation, make that your focus instead.

  4. It's really about the people
    Talk to any venture capitalist and they will tell you that the final investment decision will be based on the track record of the business leader and his/her team, and not the idea. That's why it is important to provide a brief overview of yourself and your team, highlighting your strengths and accomplishments. When possible quantify rather than generalize. For example, instead of saying “we have a fantastic team who work more efficiently than the competition” say “we have a fantastic team; in fact, a competitive analysis showed that we consistently complete projects in a third of the time taken by any of our competitors.”

  5. Show your SWOT strength
    A SWOT – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats – analysis is often used to assess a business venture. An effective pitch will address the most important aspects of your SWOT analysis, demonstrating that you not only see the potential, but that you also understand the industry and the threats your venture will face. While still focusing on the big picture, show that you understand both the competition and your competitive advantage.

  6. Deliver your pitch with passion
    Passionate delivery of your pitch is sure to get the investors attention, and it may make them consider your request, even if they weren't convinced by the initial pitch.

  7. Ask for action
    What are you hoping to achieve with your pitch? A referral, another meeting, or permission to send further information on your opportunity? Whatever your objective, don't be shy. Ask for action.

Finally, be prepared! If you are successful with your pitch you want to make sure that you are ready and able to answer the questions that may follow.

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