Perfecting Your One Sentence Pitch

As a startup founder, you will pitch your business thousands of times to potential customers, partners, team members, investors, and more.

When you pitch, you need to grab the listener's attention quickly, and communicate all of the core elements of your idea in a clear and concise manner. The goal is to get so good at pitching your business that could do your one sentence elevator pitch, in the short amount of time it takes to ride an elevator (perhaps with someone influential). In order to do this, I recommend using the simple Founder Institute one sentence pitch format described below.

Remember: If you can't describe your business in one sentence, then you don't understand it well enough.

The Founder Institute's Best One Sentence Pitch Format

Let's go through each of the items;

  • The "defined offering" needs to be short, simple and capable of being understood by everyone, like "a website," "a mobile application," "hardware," or "desktop software."

  • The "defined audience" is the initial group of people that you will market your offering to. In the case of consumer applications, it is usually a demographic, such as "women age 25 to 35 years old." In the case of business applications, it is usually a job function at a type of corporation, such as "system administrators at medium sized technology businesses."

  • Now that you have an offering helping an audience, you need to "solve a problem." The problem needs to be something that everyone understands, such as "reduce the time collecting bill payments" or "engage in an immersive entertainment experience."

  • The final component, the "secret sauce," adds your unique approach to solving the problem and demonstrates a mastery of the market. Some examples are "by sending automated email alerts based on analysis of highest response times" or "with virtual worlds constructed in reaction to the movements of the players."

Here are some more pointers; First, avoid using adjectives, particularly superlatives. Never say "first," "only," "huge" or "best," as these words signal inexperience. Second, properly define your target market. For example, "women" or "small businesses" are way too large and not nearly targeted enough. Third, eliminate any buzzwords, acronyms or industry jargon from your pitch. Finally, keep it short. It's easy to write a long sentence, but the right thing is to be concise.

In the short video below, Adeo Ressi, Founder & CEO of the Founder Institute, explains Startup Madlibs in full: