Appendix - Writing Your Pitch

without comments

“Perhaps the world’s second worst crime is boredom. The first is being a bore.” - Sir Cecil Beaton

Your products out the door and now you are standing in an elevator with the VC of your dreams. You are sure that if you can get a few sentences in, you’ll have fat funding check in your pocket by the time the doors open. The problem with your plan comes in the time between you first opening your mouth and when you breathlessly close it a minute or two later.

What you didn’t realize is the cardinal rule of capital and the guiding principle on which all ideas must be measured — no one cares.

If you are a Venture Capitalist you hear dozens, hundreds of pitches every week for products ranging from the mind-bogglingly trite to the world altering. Tell me, why would they care about your new event planner? Why would your calendaring service make them open their eyes?

Once you get past the fact that no one cares, you have the power to make a good pitch. You have about thirty seconds to make your victim want to hear more. How do you plan on accomplishing that? The answer is contained in your response to these two questions. What makes your version of the [insert whatever broad category your application fits into] better, different, more exciting than everyone else’s?

How can you make money on this in 12 months with fewer than 100,000 users? You don’t need to go into the painful details of how “social networks” work, you just need to make him or her understand who will actually use your product and why. You don’t need to give them your 5 year monetization strategy, all they want to know is what type of returns they can expect to receive and how realistic your idea really is. If the idea is good enough to pass first muster, you will have plenty of time to outline the rest of it in excruciating detail.

A Little Exercise

“Company A is a platform that enables professional and social groups of all types and sizes to create Capsules. Capsules empower groups to share, communicate and network without loosing control of their brand, privacy or members. They combine the best features of discussion forums, email lists, calendars and social networks…”

After over 50 words of text it is still difficult to visualize what Company A does. It has something to do with groups, I think. Even this is only a very tame example. Many other tech companies have pitches so loaded with web jargon that they read more like exercises in marketing satire than anything else.

A better way to describe a site that creates groups to help organize companies and businesses is to just say that.

“Company A is a product that allows professionals to create private, branded groups that combine all the best features of forums and online communities.”

Even this is only a rough solution. Still, in half the words of the original, this version manages to provide almost as much value to the reader. In fact I would say it’s better, as it’s easier to get a feeling for what Company A actually does.


When writing a pitch, discussing your startup or communicating in general remember that brevity and clarity are worth a thousand words.

Next: Startup Checklist

Leave a Reply