Elevator Pitch 101 – Intro To Writing a 30 Second Elevator Pitch

photo credit: D.James | Darren Ryan


[…Imagine Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” playing in the background…]
Look, if you had one shot…
One opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted…
One moment…
Would you capture it…
Or just let it slip away?
Yo, his Palm Treo is sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy…
There’s Starbucks on his business coat, it’s a spilled Tazoberry…
He’s nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready…
To drop an Elevator Pitch, but he keeps on forgetting…

Alright, maybe dropping an elevator pitch isn’t that extreme, yet it’s an important business tool for any entrepreneur to have. According to Wikipedia,

An elevator pitch is a brief overview of an idea for a product, service, or project. The pitch is so called because it can be delivered in the time span of an elevator ride (say, thirty seconds).

When I was first asked to write an elevator pitch, the first thing that came to my mind was,

Why is an elevator pitch so important? I’m bootstrapping my business – I don’t need any funding so why should I even care about an elevator pitch?

Well, I later came to find out that the process of formulating an elevator pitch brings to light many basic things that an entrepreneur must consider about their business. Even if you’re not looking for funding, an elevator pitch can help you figure out what’s at the core of your business.

There are numerous ways to formulate an elevator pitch; one thorough and useful method is K. Stone’s How to Craft a Killer Elevator Pitch That Will Land You Big Business. Yet as I mentioned before, many methods exist so search for one that makes the most sense to you. I found the following tips to be useful when I wrote my 30 second elevator pitch:

  1. First, avoid the cookie cutter – “insert your name here” templates that you’ll find littered all over the net. You want your pitch to stand out and be unique, so give it life and personality by allowing your pitch to paint a picture or tell a story.
  2. If possible, use a tag line yet avoid sounding cheesy – your elevator pitch isn’t a sales pitch.
  3. Stick to hard facts and numbers! Avoid assumption or BS’ing; you’ve got to instill integrity in your message.
  4. Make the pitch easy to understand; avoid acronyms or any jargon that your intended audience won’t comprehend.
  5. Focus on the opportunity/problem you’ve encountered and why your solution is the most unique in providing value and benefit to the customer. *This part will comprise the bulk of your elevator pitch, so be sure and spend some time figuring out why your product stands head and shoulders above the competition.
  6. If possible, mention the size of your market and who would be willing to pay for it.
  7. If you’re pitching to an investor, mention their return on investment and how much funding you’re seeking.
  8. Last but not least, make sure it’s only 30 seconds long. Doing so will force you to trim the fat from the pitch and only focus on what’s really at the core of your message.

Once you’ve created your elevator pitch, memorize it completely and try it out on your friends, family, and colleagues (try cornering them into a cubicle). When reciting your elevator pitch convey passion, confidence, and instill some of your personality into the pitch. It really makes a difference when your message has some feeling to it.

Now onto an example, here’s one from Intel for employees to use,

“Intel, the world’s largest silicon innovator, creates products and technologies that change the way people live, work and play. Whether it’s a mobile lifestyle or a new way to enjoy entertainment at home, Intel is helping people all over the world accomplish things they never before dreamed possible.”

As I mentioned before, there are hundreds upon hundreds of examples out there if you look for them. So instead of repeating them here, I will point you to one of the nicest sites for Elevator Pitch examples that I’ve come across on the web, Aaron Post’s Your Elevator Pitch site. [Updated 04/19/2008] Unfortunately, YourElevatorPitch.com is no longer accepting or displaying pitches due to changes being considered by the site creators; I will update this blog if and when the site is functional again. For now, you can try out these resources for elevator pitch advice and examples:

  • TechCrunch Elevator Pitches is a community video project that allows entrepreneurs to pitch their business idea to the general public and have it voted and commented on by viewers. Please note that this particular project allows one minute pitches, yet there are lots of submissions and examples so be sure to check it out.
  • Twitpitch is an idea by Stowe Boyd that forces entrepreneurs to really focus their message by constraining their elevator pitch to fit within Twitter’s 140 character limit. You can see some of the early Twitpitches here: Web 2.0 Expo Meeting Scheduling: Twitpitch Me!
  • Indiana Entrepreneur Bootcamp’s March 20th 2008 competition is a humorous live recording of three elevator pitches given by Purdue University students.
  • Vator.tv is a video site featuring a rather non-traditional spin on the elevator pitch. The site navigation is a bit lacking in my opinion, but there are plenty of video pitches by numerous companies and entrepreneurs.
  • StartupNation’s August 2006 Pitch-Off Contest is a 30 minute podcast featuring six entrepreneurs competing for StartupNation’s best elevator pitch of 2006.
  • Last but not least, you can find additional elevator pitch resources on my del.icio.us elevator pitch tags

If you have an elevator pitch resource that you would like to share, feel free to mention it in the comments below!

The Closet Entrepreneur

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  1. joe

    Sweet, great info and write up. Keep em comin’.

  2. Nice Blog. Thanks mate

  3. thanks for the research
    great resources
    saved me a lot of time 🙂

  4. TOMAS

    @Joe, @Jazzanova, @Aubrey – You’re very welcome and glad you could make use of the info! 🙂

  5. Luis A. Guzman

    Good, powerful info. Saved me time. Great Springboard. Gracias. Luis

  6. Awesome blog !
    Thanks a lot dude , I was wondering how to deliver a elevator pitch to a few customers I am going to meet and your post saved the day for me !

    Thanks again

  7. Nice one big boy. This is exactly what i was looking for…

  8. @Luis A. Guzman, @fooblogger, @Ollie – Your all very welcome and very glad that you all found the post useful!


  9. Thanks for the concise overview. I look forward to being able to write that plainly.

  10. Evelyn

    Very Usefull information, thank you very much .

  11. Great Article! When I was an account manager cold calling for accounts I became pretty decent at creating compelling opening pitches (without sounding like a salesperson). Now that I have my own business, its a huge aspect everyday. I have found that creating interest and causing them to ask a question works the best to open up a dialogue.

    A good follow up read to this article would be the book “The Answer” by John Assaraf, he describes an excellent method to create an elevator pitch.


  12. @Dean Dragonetti, @Evelyn – Thank you and you’re very welcome! 🙂

    @Bradley Gauthier – Thank you for the book recommendation. 😉

  13. Hi Tomas, There’s lots of great info here. Thank you.

    In the early stages of my business I struggled with how to say what I do so I created a step by step process and turned it into a free exercise. I hope you like it: How to Write Your 30 Second Commerical: http://prosperitycoaching.biz/newsite_070707/articles_commercial.html


  14. I enjoyed this information.
    http://www.blog.asenseconcierge.com for more information for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

  15. Tomas,

    Thanks for putting this together. Your blog was brought to my attention by a business coach. Would love to connect with you.


    Hans Hegge

  16. As the focus of my business shifts, I used this to update my elevator speech.


  17. Lauren

    Another good site to get one started:

  18. Extremely in depth article. This is definitely a great place to start for any start up looking to perfect their elevator pitch.

  19. Thank you for the resources. I do not have the time or the knowledge to have found these tidbits on my own; I am very appreciative.

  20. Great article! Thanks for all the good resources. I’ve got to think of a good pitch for myself…

  21. Lamashia Davis

    I really enjoyed reading this article; very helpful. I especially loved the intro and how you tied it Eminem’s song “Lose It.” That is actually one my favorite songs by him.

  22. HW

    Thanks! really helpful.

    MIT has a 100K 60sec elevator pitch contest. http://www.mit100k.org/ or http://www.mit100k.org/featured/2009-elevator-pitch-contest-video/
    >> its interesting to see strategies the pitches use and how the judges respond to them- what works, what is confusing.

    Although- there is alot of Emcee stuff so youtubing the contest for just the winning pitches might save some time.

    (They have a couple of really amusing ad/marketing videos on youtube as well if you are looking to kill some time – “sexy pitch” and “killer pitch”)

  23. well, eventhough you think it’s a bit out of date, i still find it useful and interesting. they’re great tips and inspired me

  24. Hi, I’ve been looking for an article on this topic and this one is absolutely the #1 I’ve found. It really gave me an overview what I need to consider. And thanks for the sites like TechCrunch Elevator Pitches… It’s difficult to find them when you don’t know what to look for.

  25. 30 seconds is cutting it short, I’ve seen some impressive elevator pitch examples that run well beyond 30 and make it up to 90 seconds. I think it depends on the environment and situation where you pitch the sale. That said thanks for recommending K. Stone’s article, it’s a great resource!

  26. very good article! There’s a video on Youtube that allow entrepreneur to practice their Elevator Pitch, I hope this will be helpful. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AmmlxDmD0A

  27. Carl Williams

    Great summary Tomas. Thanks. I came across a new book that has a great section on creating and delivering an elevator pitch – ‘Here’s the Pitch’ – investorpitchclinic.com/pitchbook . it also covers High Concept Pitches which I hadn’t come across before. Thanks.

  28. Tony

    Thanks for the info. We found it helpful!

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