By Probal Lala, CEO of About Communications and expert for The Big Decision. Find out more about Probal Lala and About Communications

Many Canadians have grown very successful private businesses without ever having to raise external funds or take on specialized advisors.

On occasion, whether it is because our businesses have been growing too fast or sometimes too slow, we may find ourselves in a position where we need to partner with investors who can either provide us access to financial capital and/or access to some very unique intellectual capital.

A key way to attract the attention of potential investors is through our company "Pitch."
When first pitching our business to potential investors, it's easy to forget the key disciplines that have gotten our business noticed with our customers in the first place - Marketing and Sales. These two disciplines, when directed by the right objectives, can be powerful tools in winning over the hearts and minds of not just customers but investors as well.

The term Elevator Pitch has been around for years. It is a laser focussed marketing and sales presentation of your business idea. As the title implies, the Elevator Pitch should be the time it takes to make an average elevator ride and it should last no more than ninety seconds.

The objective of the Elevator Pitch is NOT to get the investment but rather to get the investor. The fundamental premise of the pitch is that "less is more." As you only have ninety seconds to "WOW" your potential investor, you will have a lot more success if you can first make a positive connection at an emotional level before getting into the factual details of the business. Studies have shown that people use the emotional part of the brain to make rational decisions, and connecting at that level will make a more lasting impression.

Making that emotional connection requires a good understanding of what excites your investor. While there are many different motivators, many individual investors who invest their own time and money get excited by a combination of profit, people and planet driven causes. So if you can show an investor how you can make them rich, have them work with some really great people along the way and help improve the lives of global citizens you probably have the makings of a winning pitch.

So what are some of the basics ingredients of an elevator pitch:

  • Recognized Market Pain and Unique Solution - Your investor needs to understand the problem you are about to solve and how your solution is different from the competition and other solutions in the market.
  • Market Size - The investors need to understand how wide spread is this pain. Most investors like to hear about large growing markets as it not only appeals to their sense of profit but it also reduces risk.
  • Business Model - How does your business make money. Is your model scaleable ? Fundamentally investors are looking for a financial return and they need to know how the business will provide this return.
  • Who is the Company - This is the people motivator - "Bet on the jockey, not the horse" - ultimately individual investors are betting on you and the team.
  • "The Ask" (and Return) - What is it that you are looking for from the investor and what will they get in return.

Finally, remember that most individual investors are NOT experts in your field so you need to educate them about the opportunity not only in exciting ways but in simple and easy to understand ways.

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