Elevator Pitch Guidelines

A highlight of the annual Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup Awards Luncheon is the Elevator Pitch Competition, where one representative from each of the undergraduate and graduate finalist teams has 90 seconds to pitch his or her team’s business plan to the audience.

The Elevator Pitch Competition is a challenging opportunity for students to shape a statement about their business plan into one that is concise, attention-getting, and can be shared when an unexpected opportunity arises to, literally, “make a pitch.” They could find themselves on the same elevator with a well-known investor and have a 90-second ride together. What do they say?

During the luncheon, competitors will meet AEAF staff in a pre-designated area to be fitted with wireless microphones, allowing them to move freely during their pitches. When the competition begins, the emcee will call the first competitor to the stage. A time clock is provided and a cue will be given to start the pitch. At 90 seconds, a buzzer will sound, and the competitor leaves the stage. The audience is then prompted to rate the pitch by text vote. Votes are tallied and an undergraduate and graduate winner is announced before the end of the luncheon. Each winner receives a $2,000 cash prize.

See the finalists in action – Click here and fast forward to 14:10 to watch the 2016 Elevator Pitches from each of the six undergraduate and graduate finalists!

As pitches are being prepared, teams should consider the following for content:

  1. Who are you? Introduce yourself, giving your name, your title/role in the company, and the company’s name.
  2. What need is your company’s product or service addressing?
  3. Who is your market? Who are the potential customers? How large is the potential market?
  4. Business model — how do you expect to make money? Do you sell the product to wholesalers for a flat fee? Do you charge a subscription? Do you split profits with a partner?
  5. Management team — who is behind the company? “Bet on the jockey, not the horse” is a familiar saying among Investors. Share a little about you and your team’s background and achievements. If you have a strong advisory board, say who they are and what they have accomplished.
  6. Who are your competitors? Briefly discuss who they are and what they have accomplished. Successful competition is an advantage — it is proof your business model and/or concept work.
  7. What gives your company the edge? Simply being in an industry with successful competitors is not enough. You need to effectively communicate how your company is different and why you have an advantage over the competition. Do you have a better distribution channel? Key partners? Proprietary technology?
  8. What are you seeking? What are you looking for from the investor? How much money do you need and what it will let you do?

Practice is key. Competitors need to get the pitches down in 90 seconds or less — and make sense while doing so. They should practice extensively with other team members and also try their pitches on others,

Want more information? See “Presenting the Business” in AEAF’s Entrepreneur’s Toolkit.

Good luck!


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