Perfecting your business elevator pitch: A blend of art and science

Crafting the perfect elevator pitch can be the make-or-break moment that propels your startup to success by captivating both investors and customers in a matter of seconds. Mark Cuban, star of ABC’s hit pitch show "Shark Tank," once said, "In business, it is most often all about getting your foot in the door, and once you do, everything opens up and things start to naturally progress into bigger and more opportunities."

In today's entrepreneurial landscape, your pitch is your golden ticket to making a lasting impression. Jane Sojka, professor of marketing at the Lindner College of Business, has consulted for businesses of all sizes across the country and was instrumental in launching UC’s Center for Professional Selling. Sojka dives into the key elements of creating a compelling elevator pitch that leaves your audience wanting more.

1. Captivate: Spark interest from the get-go

Picture this: You step into an elevator with a potential investor or client. You have mere seconds to capture their attention. How do you do it?

Start with a hook, an attention-grabbing statement or question that immediately intrigues your audience. Whether it's a startling statistic, a compelling anecdote or a thought-provoking question, ensure that your opening lines are impossible to ignore. Don’t focus on selling your product or service; focus on the problem that your business is solving.

In business, it is most often all about getting your foot in the door, and once you do, everything opens up and things start to naturally progress into bigger and more opportunities.

Mark Cuban

2. Differentiate: Stand out from the crowd

In a sea of competitors, what sets you apart? Your elevator pitch is your chance to highlight your unique value proposition.

Clearly articulate what makes your business different from what already exists in the market­, whether it's innovative technology, superior quality, unmatched customer service or a disruptive business model. Emphasize your competitive advantages and why customers should choose you over the alternatives. Be specific and concise — paint a vivid picture of what makes your offering stand out.

3. Validate: Back it up with proof

“Is the business scalable?” is one of the most overused phrases on "Shark Tank." Don't just tell your audience why you're the best — show them. Provide concrete examples, case studies, testimonials or data points that validate your claims and prove potential scalability.

Credibility is key, whether it's impressive sales figures, glowing customer reviews or endorsements from industry experts. Demonstrating tangible evidence of your success or potential can help build trust and confidence in your business. Make sure to tailor your validation to resonate with your specific audience.

Always: Keep it short and sweet

Time is precious, especially in the world of business. Keep your elevator pitch concise and to the point. Focus on conveying the most essential information. Aim for brevity without sacrificing substance — every word should serve a purpose and contribute to your overall message. Practice delivering your pitch until it flows effortlessly and can be delivered on a moment’s notice within a short elevator ride.

Craft your pitch with UC's Venture Lab

Crafting an irresistible elevator pitch is a blend of art and science. UC’s Venture Lab helps entrepreneurs from idea conception to startup launch. We connect the Bearcat community to knowledge, talent and resources to help launch scalable startups. At the 1819 Innovation Hub, we support you on your journey to entrepreneurial success.

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