Say what? No, I’m not watching the Discovery channel or Animal Planet. I’m actually referring to an approach to pitching, and this was a direct quote from Mike Nichols, creator and co-founder of RollSale, a recent TechStars Boulder graduating company and platform that connects people selling their cars with dealers looking to purchase used cars.
Mike is from and lives in St. Louis, Missouri (my hometown), and we were introduced through a mutual friend/acquaintance. We Skype chatted this morning because I wanted to ask him about his experience with TechStars and fundraising. While we ended up discussing a range of topics, from women entrepreneurs in tech to team building to the value of mentors, one of the most important pieces of advice he gave me was the title of this post: when pitching,
Bite off a chunk, and see who leans in. What are the pieces of the pitch that point to how you’re really going to capture the market? You need to see who’s leaning forward/connecting with which parts of your pitch…have the little chunks ready and make em stick .
I really like this. I probably use the term “nerd out” too often, but I do think that we as founders can nerd out too much in our pitches by including information that we think is cool, valuable or unique; details that a potential investor or general audience of non-experts likely don’t find at all interesting or valuable because it doesn’t have to do with the problem and/or solution. And this is where we lose our audience, whoever that audience might be. “All the things you think are important? Only pieces of it are,” he said.
He goes into this a little bit on his blog:
Our understanding of the space makes us want to focus on all the little things we know that others don’t, and that we think are the things that make us the right people to accomplish what we’re trying to accomplish.
That can be helpful as you fine-tune your product and tailor your solution. It can be confusing and off-putting when you’re talking about your company, pitching, and even marketing your product(s) to the masses.
This is so very true, and something that is confirmed both in design, marketing, pitching, and pretty much every aspect of launching a business: your users/customers should immediately understand the problem you’re solving for them, how you’re solving it. The value in your site/product/experience should be instantly obvious, or you lose them. Getting bogged down in features, cool details, and industry-specific insights can do this.
Mike is admittedly a “non-fashion-y” guy, but when he began to see the value in what Parceld is doing, the problem we’re trying to solve and the value we’re offering both women shoppers and vendors, it clicked for him. The problem is, it took me too long to take him down the road to the “ah-ha!” moment. He was patient because he was curious; not everyone will take that time.
Another chunk (I’m beginning to like this word) from his blog that I’ll leave you/my thoughts with:
The truth is, when we’re good at what we do and passionate in the convictions that drive us, we can always communicate that we’re the ones that will change our little piece of the world for the good. And we can be confident in letting the elevator pitch do what it is meant to do; pique the interest of those that matter. Then they ask questions. And you learn then about what matters. Later on, they may go down the rabbit hole with you one-on-one; those are important conversations and matter a lot (I LIVE for those).
Trying to introduce yourself with those conversations is just terrible. It sucks. Don’t do it.