The Three Cs Of Startup Pitching

As "crazy" as it may seem, it would behoove many entrepreneurs to watch the 1990 film Crazy People with Dudley Moore. Although it probably won't make the American Film Institute's Top 100 films, the loose plot entails Moore's character trying to revolutionize the advertising industry using one potent maxim: Keep it simple. His potential ad campaigns range from "They're boxy but they're good (Volvo)" to "If you don't use it, you'll get cancer and die (Metamucil)." Predictably, he's branded insane and sent to an institution. His frankness would have served him well in the entrepreneurial world.

I've been a part of many angel investment forums and business plan competitions over the years and not surprisingly, it is the entrepreneurs who simplify their idea down to a common denominator who seem to stand out. Often times, there is an urge to spill your guts when explaining a nascent concept. The passion for the idea spreads into all arenas so that when explaining it, it often sounds like you're changing the world. Who knows; maybe it will and maybe that's what it's designed to do. But for the most part, that's rarely the case, so try to leave that for another day. When describing your idea to potential investors, corporate partners and the media, just strive for these three selling points:

Clarity: There are probably hundreds of ways to describe your company. Choose the most relevant. Describe exactly what it is you do and how you do it. Imagine explaining it to your mom.

Concise: There are probably hundreds of sentences to describe the mission/goal of your company. Choose one; two if you must. Repeat this snapshot as often as possible. It will likely become your brand's identity, and used by others to spread your concept for you. Imagine your mom explaining your new company to her friends.

Cha-Ching: There might be a dozen ways your company could make money, but choose no more than three. Be very clear on how you will generate revenue and how you plan to make that happen. Leave your mom out of this one.

Touching on a more iconic movie figure, it was clear Say Anything's Lloyd Dobler did not follow the three C's. While I'm sure it all turned out well in life for everyone's favorite lovelorn underdog, Lloyd's pitch style leaves much to be desired. After all, if you're a kickboxer, say you're a kickboxer.

The best entrepreneurs know that pushing for clear, concise messaging will help shape a uniform investor pitch, a magnetic brand, lucid selling points for the media, and if you're lucky, maybe your mom will actually understand what it is that you do for a living.

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