Often, business people hop into my Lyft car and begin to speak in foreign languages. Sometimes they talk to me, but most of the time they prattle into their cell phones using terms like bootstrapping, verticals, elevators, and VC entities. They may not sound like Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, but the job remains the same — come up with a product, improve or piggyback off an existing product and market that product.
Let us suppose one of these young entrepreneurs has an idea to use harness horse racing to make money in a new way. They have links to people with the ability to get a hearing in front of venture capitalists, the funders of new ideas. But before they can present to a VC group, they must get racing people onboard. Like Willy Loman, they must get their foot in the door.
To do this in the modern business world, you grab the ear of a party with power, say a state racing commission member, and you hit them with an elevator pitch — a brief, yet persuasive dialogue to spark interest in your organization or your business. A good elevator pitch lasts about the same amount of time as an elevator ride, hence the name.
On the elevator, there are many methods for approaches. Humor, intensity, confidence and unpredictability are often on the table to make ideas stand out. Here is a simple three-part plan to engage, rather than bore, the target. Let us listen in to an elevator pitch:
Ding (door closes)
The first part is to state an obvious problem. This statement identifies the pain or need that your product or service addresses:
“You know, of course, that horse racing is on the road to nowhere. Wagering, which is everything for your sport, is not expanding. Your demographics are fading like a Trump tan in the rain. Your transition to social media markets is weak and your future prospects are bleak (smile). Otherwise, things are perfect.”
The second part is a statement that contains the words “What I do” or “What we do”:
“Never fear, I am here, like a shining knight on a white horse. What my people do is create new gambling opportunities that allow sports like harness horse racing to leverage their products to gamblers on social media and cyberspace platforms.”
The third part of the formula offers big benefits and contains “the purpose”:
“People are always looking for gambling entities to satisfy their gambling itch, not just in your state, not just in America, but worldwide. Our purpose is that when a person with a cell phone has an itch to play, we can scratch it.”
Before the door dings open, you smile and finish:
“We can find your sport huge revenues in digital media. We do not require investment on your side, potential markets are unbelievable… if, and only if…you skew younger, open your door and present differently. Think of it like this, betting on horse races today is like taking a cab or riding in a horse and buggy. I represent an Uber paradigm: a self-driving, revenue- driving, and youthful market-driving philosophy.
“The entire key to getting out of your rut, to preventing your sport from running in circles, is a better distribution channel. You have a nice little gambling product. My investors and I can bring you new money and new markets, huge money, huge markets. Here is my card. Call me if you want your racetracks on a better track. I will set up a deck pitch.”
Ding (door opens)