The reason I wanted to write this article is primarily because of my recent experience simultaneously pitching our product to our customers, and on the same day pitching our company to potential investors. Our assumption here is by and large, your audience has a relatively small attention span (30 seconds), given the number of pitches they hear/see, from other companies, products and founders.
So, as entrepreneurs, we really need to find a crisp and compelling way to convey what we do - so they (customers and/or investors) are willing to give us an extra couple minutes of their day to listen to us.
Whether you are a small business owner, a tech startup founder or even a product manager at big tech, a huge learning here has been - knowing how to tailor your pitch depending on the audience. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on the persona of a typical new entrepreneur who is starting to get her business off the ground. When speaking to customers you want to use the few seconds you have with them to quickly convey how you can alleviate their pain points, and make their lives better. Thoughtfully using language that has both your value proposition along with an emotional component that indicates that you understand them and have empathy for their challenges helps build trust and willingness to engage further.
On the other hand investors expect more direct language and a clear understanding of how fast you are growing, how big the market opportunity is, and your business model.
Having recently gone through Y Combinator, something that the group partners often insist on is being able to describe what your company does in just two sentences. Obviously Y Combinator is preparing us for a demo day which is a pitch event hosted by YC in front of invited investors. However the learnings can be applicable and tuned depending on the audience we are speaking to. Essentially the two sentence description as YC puts it is a short description of what your company does, as you would explain it to your target audience. You are also encouraged to use this two sentence description throughout the Y Combinator journey to introduce your company to other founders in the batch, and while practicing fundraising. The understanding is that this definition is likely going to evolve as we iterate, observe reactions, and gather feedback.
A good way to look at this would be to think about a situation where you are at a conference or a trade show, and a potential customer walks past your booth; something about your brand has attracted them to to earn you Face-Time with the customer. And then ask you “Hi, what does your company do?”. This two sentence description is what you would use to frame your response.
As YC has taught us, the first format could be sentence one is about what we do, sentence 2 coule be an example of what we do. Another format is sentence one is what problem we solve, sentence 2 describes how we solve it.
For example: to describe Criya - Sentence one: Criya is empowering creators to monetize their talent by enabling them to launch their own business. Sentence two : Creators can now have a virtual studio to offer services, book clients, accept payments and manage projects - all in under five minutes on Criya.
Some common mistakes people make is using a customer pitch in front of an investor, or an investor pitch to a customer. Any company or founder must separate these out entirely. Even though the core components of the sentences can be the same, the delivery really lies in the emotional hook.
A customer wants to have faith in the fact that you actually understand them, and are willing to immerse yourself in their pain points and find the right resolution. By using industry jargon and common buzzwords you may be able to attract someone to the top of the funnel, but once engaged, you need to be authentic, and be able to convey a very direct and helpful message to your customer.
For an investor this is exactly the opposite; they are not looking for emotional hooks or industry jargon, they're looking for facts and numbers, and a conviction that you have the absolute solution to solve this problem. In either case even though the two sentence description is still just specifically describing what your company does, the way you convey it and the language you use goes a long way in convincing your target audience.
As founders are going out there pitching products to either audience I highly recommend practicing with one another, practicing with your close customers as well as your mom - it's a great way to validate if your message is coming through.
On a closing note, I offer 1-1 coaching for entrepreneurs and product managers early in their journey with pitch practice. When you want to grab some time, make sure to find a slot on my calendar at https://www.criya.store/deb