When opportunity knocks, answer; prepare a short, punchy business presentation to attract the investors required to capitalize your endeavor.

The modern world moves fast. Time is money and we love things that make our lives easier. Newsletters are succeeding due to this chronic shortage of time; events that would take a couple of hours to read up on have turned into 10-minute summaries, ending daily meetings after 15 minutes. Investors are busy, they fully understand how valuable their time is and don’t like wasting it. Entrepreneurs must understand this. Therefore, elevator pitches have emerged as a popular idea that business schools are exploring further. 

Imagine bumping into the company’s creative director or the head of a VC fund in an elevator. You have this short encounter to persuade them to take a glance at the latest sketches in your collection or your makeup app prototype. How would you get their attention? 

This is the basis of the elevator pitch. Start building it now, drawing on your business proposal’s most eye-catching and promising data. “This pitch concept is a must in business and networking,” according to Francisco Martínez, a lecturer at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) School of Economics, “and it’s particularly useful in highly competitive sectors, such as fashion and beauty,” he notes.

The experts we interviewed highlight a series of key points that every elevator pitch should include.

“At investment forums, these meetings take place all the time in the corridors. A good pitch, less than 60 seconds, is a must. What makes you different? What’s your business all about?” Adds Diego Martinez, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Development (CEDE) at the Ibero-American University in Mexico City. 

Recommendations for Building Your Pitch

Spanish designer Moisés Nieto, winner of the National Fashion Prize for new value in 2017, and who has run a brand under his own name for ten years, reveals that to build valuable messages, he and his team spend a large chunk of their time engaging with customers. This young creator’s formula involves clients from the beginning of the creative process. “We ask for feedback on designs, provide options for choosing colors and materials, with the aim of including customers in the creative process, to make them feel part of the brand’s universe, to create a connection and trust. This will always grow stronger if they like the product.”

A wide range of tools are used to communicate with his audience: satisfaction surveys, newsletters and lots of direct engagement via social media. “Our best customers are the first to hear the latest news and we offer them preferential treatment.” Being a niche brand gives them opportunities for direct engagement with customers, which is considered more difficult for larger brands. 

Insights drawn from customers will be useful when pitching to potential investors, even if you have less than a minute to get them across in an elevator.

Another tool providing permanent material for identifying sales opportunities to make the business more attractive involves having a good database for understanding customers and knowing whether they come back to the store, according to Lourdes Madrigal, who has experience as a floor manager for firms including Saint Laurent and Miu Miu in Mexico. 

“The repurchase rate is the most interesting tool we use. This reveals whether marketers are doing their job effectively and if they are making the right claim.” This indicator measures how often customers return to buy and whether they purchase the products that sales assistants have suggested. This tool is useful for both in-store sales and e-commerce, provided “you have a good database.”

All these data help to identify powerful figures and indicators to snag a potential investor. The goal is to leave with the chance of a future meeting, where a business plan can be presented in greater detail. To make a spontaneous pitch work: “Focus on the benefits, not the features,” concludes Francisco Martínez.

7 Steps for Building a Pitch

After pooling the most attractive points, structure them as follows:

  1. Confirmation or question. Pitch a question or a key piece of information supporting your proposal to draw the listener in.
  2. Credibility. Identify yourself: who you are and what you do. 
  3. Which problem are you identifying? Experts think this is the key point: which need have you identified and how will you solve it.  
  4. What’s the solution being offered? Explain the innovation proposal. What makes you different? Perhaps the tech, the production materials, etc.
  5. Main benefits. In a word or two, define what you’re selling, and what your brand/idea’s main benefits are.
  6. Has it been validated? If you’ve run a social media campaign or presented the project at a fair, tell the investor, who’ll want to know if there’s demand for it.
  7. What do I need? By the end, the listener must fully understand what you want. This could be investment, a partnership with their company or consultancy.