DEFINITION of 'Elevator Pitch'

Elevator pitch is a slang term used to describe a brief speech that outlines an idea for a product, service or project. The name comes from the notion that the speech should be delivered in the short time period of an elevator ride, usually 20-60 seconds.

In the financial world, the speech refers to an entrepreneur's attempt to convince a venture capitalist that a business idea is worth investing in.

BREAKING DOWN 'Elevator Pitch'

Venture capitalists use the quality of the elevator speech as a way to judge whether to continue with an idea. The elevator pitch is also used by project managers, salespeople and jobseekers as a way to market themselves or their ideas. An elevator pitch should include why your product, idea or project is worth investing in by explaining such things as the features, benefits and cost savings.

How the Elevator Pitch is Used

An elevator pitch is frequently memorized and practiced in advance by entrepreneurs who actively seek backers for their businesses idea. There are a variety of forums and events where such pitches are presented before an audience that may include potential investors. For example, startup incubator programs may conclude with a demo day event where a founding member of the team, often the CEO, will deliver the elevator pitch about the company.

In such an instance, the pitch will describe the “pain point” the team is attempting to solve, what approaches have already been attempted to resolve the issue, and what the startup has to offer that has not been tried before. Moreover, the pitch is intended to explain, in clear and direct terms, why the idea or product can succeed where other novel concepts have not.

Depending on the circumstances, some elevator pitches may be longer than the proverbial elevator ride and can go into greater detail about the team involved in developing the idea. The pitch may also provide more information about how the concept will be brought to market, ways it will grow a customer base, and what the broader market opportunities are for the concept.

Elevator pitches may be used at some events as a form of contest, where the presenters compete for prizes that might assist them in furthering their ideas. This can include nominal funding or business services and mentoring with business veterans. Regardless of winning such a contest, the opportunity to present their ideas before an audience of angel investors, venture capitalists, and other possible backers can be seen as a significant benefit of the pitch.

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