How to Get Out of the Elevator and Land That Investment

The 8 most important things I learned as an investor on Season 9 of Elevator Pitch.

There are a hundred ways to screw up a 60-second investment pitch.

I know this because, after three seasons as an investor on the Elevator Pitch television show, I’ve seen them all. Flubbed deliveries. Bad timing. Missing information. The list is endless. And any one of these things is enough to get a unanimous thumbs down.

If you’ve ever seen Shark Tank or Dragon’s Den, you’ll be familiar with the premise: entrepreneurs deliver an elevator pitch to a panel of cynical investors. But our twist is that our entrepreneurs are actually in an elevator and have 60 seconds – the amount of time it takes for the elevator to get from the lobby up to our 60th-floor boardroom – to make their pitch. Then we vote on whether to let them out of the elevator and into the boardroom to tell us more.

The stakes are high, you could get through the application process, prepare for months, fly all the way to our studio in Florida, spend 60 seconds in an elevator, and then get sent home – all without getting a chance to step out into the studio and make your case about why you deserve our investment dollars. And we say no a lot.  One of our entrepreneurs in Season 7 flew here from Mongolia. She didn’t make it out of the elevator).

There’s really no excuse for this since that 60 seconds is the one thing – and the only thing – that you can be completely in control of, and can completely prepare for. 

So, with that in mind, here are the Top 8 Things you can do to ensure you get out of the elevator.

(Sure, this is just TV, but in a 30-year career as an angel investor, I promise that all of these tips and tricks are the exact same things you will need in a real board room).

1) Get to the point.

When you’re in that elevator – there’s one thing for certain: you’ve only got 60 seconds to make your case.

So don’t waste it. Measure your words. Make it easy for me to understand what you’re trying to sell and why I should care.

What if that elevator comes to a stop and you haven’t said everything you need to?  Well, the inside of an elevator is all you are going to see.

2) Are you pitching the right person?

You can have a great product. Strong sales. And plenty of traction. 

But none of that means anything if you’re pitching to the wrong person.

So do your research. Have I made investments in your space?  Do I regularly engage with companies like yours?

It’s hard enough to land an investment. So don’t waste your time on someone who is never going to bite.

3) Know your metrics.

Metrics are a key part of running a business, so you better know your numbers. But not all metrics are equal. I don’t care about your total addressable market. Or your fifth-year revenue forecast.

What I want to know is what are the two or three KEY metrics that matter most to your business. What are you aiming for? How are you measuring progress?

Because if you aren’t clear about where you’re trying to go, it’s not very likely you’re going to get there.

4) Build lifetime value.

Have you figured out a great way to attract new customers? Well good for you.

What gets me excited is if you’ve figured out a way to get those customers to come back.

“One and Done” is the surest way I know of to see you piss away all my money. But build a machine that keeps the same customers coming back to buy repeatedly? 

Well, that my friend, is lifetime value. And now, you’re speaking my language.

5) Teach, don’t preach.

When you’re pitching, you’re trying to persuade me, not educate me.

If I want to hear a lecture, I’ll go back to school.

Remember it’s a pitch, not a presentation. Get to the point and make your case.

6) Be consistent.

When I listen to a pitch, I need to be on board the whole way through.

Sometimes, all it takes is a single thing being off, so if you’re not completely confident that what you are going to say is going to help? Don’t say it!

As investors, we are pre-disposed to say no. Don’t give us a reason to.

7) Paint me a picture.

You’ve got 60 seconds to paint me a picture of why you’re worth betting on. 

So don’t waste time on filling in every detail – especially if it means you’re not going to complete the full outline.

Don’t make me have to use my imagination. Because I promise, I’m going to imagine the worst.

8) Ultimately, it’s about you.

When I’m listening to your pitch, I’m not focusing on your product, your market size, or your sales channels. I’m looking at you.

Do you know where you are going?

Do you have both hands on the wheel?

Can you pair your vision with action?

Because there is nothing more powerful than a leader that knows where they are going and will do whatever it takes to get there.

So there you have it – my eight tips for ensuring your pitch is strong enough to get you out of that elevator.


Many ideas in this post were first discussed in the Neverland entrepreneurial community. Join us there!

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