Editor’s note: “The Angel Connection” is a new feature in WRAL Local Tech Wire. LTW asked consultant Bill Warner to share with readers advice for entrepreneurs seeking investment. He is chairman of the Triangle Accredited Capital Forum, an angel investor network with over one hundred members throughout the southeast. The Angel Connection is published weekly.
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – You have probably heard about an elevator pitch. Believe me. It’s important to be able to explain your business quickly.
When you first meet an angel, you need to get them initially excited about your business, so that they really want to know more about it. I know it sounds impossible, but you really can do it this quickly.
What’s the First Thing You Say?
The first and most important thing you need to get across is the industry problem you are solving. When you describe the problem, you need to bring it to life with a quick and exciting illustration that helps your audience visualize it. If you are working on call center responsiveness, you could say “how often have you been put on hold and had to wait more than five minutes?” Sometimes the problem is better expressed as an opportunity. For example, “wouldn’t it be nice if you could access the internet while on an airplane, so that you could get some work done while flying?” By putting the problem into a context that can be easily understood, your audience will readily see what you are trying to do. Conclude your problem description with a sentence that shows how big the problem is; like, “40% of all call center inquires are on hold more than five minutes, that is 2.4B calls per month.” Or, “78% of all airline passengers are business people and 85% of them have laptop computers, 66% of which are WiFi enabled.”
You now have impressed your audience that there is a huge problem that you are working on.
What Do You Say Next?
Once you have clearly illustrated the problem, you follow it by an equally clear description of the solution to the problem. This is not a long winded technology description, but a simple explanation of what you provide to the buyer who has the problem and the overall benefit they get. For example, “Our online automated answering service will answer 80% of the product definition questions you currently get from customers, reducing call center costs by nearly 20%,” or “our emerging national network provides a way for all airlines to provide a very inexpensive internet service while flying anywhere in the United States.”
Be Ready, Practice Pays Off
Opportunities to give this one to two minute presentation about your business will come up many times. You will need it every time you meet someone new at a networking event and you are asked what your business is. If you are approached by other business professionals you will need to explain your business. These meetings can happen not only in elevators, but on airplanes, waiting in service lines, at parties, playing golf, at sporting events and in restaurants. Practice it and you will be surprised how effective a tool it is in getting someone to understand and perhaps interested in your business.
About the author: Bill Warner is the Managing Partner of Paladin and Associates, a business consulting firm in the Research Triangle Park area of central North Carolina, and is the Chairman of the Triangle Accredited Capital Forum, an angel investor network with over one hundred members throughout the southeast.