A founder looking to talk to investors has one essential first task: Perfect the “elevator pitch.”
The elevator pitch summarizes what your company, product, or service does, and why it’s interesting or valuable — all in the length of an elevator ride.
I recently visited StartX, a prestigious tech accelerator funded by Stanford University that seeks to identify promising entrepreneurs and provide training and support so they can build “the next big thing” in tech.
And I noticed just how seriously this incubator takes the elevator pitch.
In StartX’s headquarters in Palo Alto, California, hang a left at the rear of the main room and you’ll find the Pitch Elevator, noted with a sign.
The ride between the first and second floors takes 10 seconds, just enough time to deliver a succinct and meaningful pitch.
Alexa Lee, director of public relations at StartX, tells Business Insider that staff decked out the elevator last year so that it could double as a private space to rehearse a personal intro or company pitch.
Inside, two full-length mirrors hang on the wall so that founders in the StartX program can monitor their facial expressions and practice eye contact.
While StartX doesn’t require its founders to spend time in the Pitch Elevator, current StartX participant Christine Su and her cofounder perform run-throughs often.
“If there’s an important meeting, I practice out loud 10 times in the car on my morning commute,” says Su, CEO of Summer Technologies.
Tony Lai, cofounder of LawGives, graduated from the StartX program in 2011. He says crafting the perfect elevator speech is a worthwhile investment.
“As a founder, you need to be able to grab someone’s attention in 20 seconds. You might have prepared your whole life for that one chance,” he says. “You might not get a second chance. The StartX pitch elevator is a fun way to prepare so that your one chance comes out right.”