The transitive elevator pitch



I was talking with a founder recently in a mentor meeting. He’s a software engineer and an MIT graduate.

I was explaining elevator pitches to him and emphasized that the true value of a successful elevator pitch is its pass along ability. He exclaimed to us, That’s the transitive elevator pitch! You need to blog about that!

Elevator pitches can also be considered as 30-second pitches, as that’s the maximum amount of time you’d have talking with an investor in a elevator. Here’s all you probably need to know about 30-second pitches from Bill Warner, founder of Avid Technology and Wildfire and a highly successful angel investor. Bill and I put this together several years ago when I was working for him: Delivering a successful pitch.

Here’s the computer scientist’s definition of transitive.

transitive |ˈtransədivˈtranzədiv|

2. Logic & Mathematics (of a relation) such that, if it applies between successive members of a sequence, it must also apply between any two members taken in order. For instance, if A is larger than B, and B is larger than C, then A is larger than C.

As I’ve said before your goal when talking about your venture is to capture the imagination of your audience, be that an investor, a prospective advisor, a potential partner, or a job candidate. But how do you know if you have succeeded in doing so? Because they are able to repeat your pitch to their colleagues as: 1) they are so excited about your venture, and 2) you have made your pitch so simple that they can easily not only remember it, but make the pitch themselves. You’ve then generated the network effect, and the most powerful version of the network effect is word of mouth.

Here’s an example from Delivering a successful pitch, first the boring, jargon-filled version of the elevator pitch:

Mega Technologies is a specialist in SNMP network management. In addition, our CORBA-Based Quality-of-Service Management Framework for Distributed Multimedia Services and Applications, means that our customers systems have maximum uptime.

and here’s the plain English version that conveys excitement and can easily be recalled:

“You’d think companies have control over their networks. But they don’t. 62% of companies with 50 to 100 computers have NO network management at all. We’re building the tools they need. It’s a 2 billion dollar market today, and it’s growing. Our products are in beta test now, and we are looking for our first round.”

and here’s an example of the pitch in transitive form, delivered to an associate at a VC firm:

Hey, Janet. Listen to this! I ran into this guy in the elevator just now and he told me that over sixty percent of companies with something like 50 to 100 computers don’t have any control of their networks! His venture is building the tools needed for network management and he said it’s a 2 billion dollar market! I know we don’t normally do first round investments, but this guy’s got his product in beta test now and he’s looking for his first round. And you know we have several investments in network technology. Here’s his contact info. Please give him a call and get him in the office before some other investor snags him.


Author: Mentorphile

Mentor, coach, and advisor to entrepreneurs, small businesses, and non-profit organizations. General manager with significant experience in both for-profit and non-profit organizations. Focus on media and information. On founding team of four venture-backed companies. Currently Chairman of Popsleuth, Inc., maker of the Endorfyn app for keeping fans updated on new stuff from their favorite artists.

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