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How to Do a 30 Second “Elevator Pitch” when Everything Your Company Does is CONFIDENTIAL


Businesses are often faced with the challenge of doing a concise value proposition, commonly referred to as the “elevator pitch”.  This is especially true for start-ups!  Fairly often for companies who deal with highly confidential technologies and market data, even the basic value proposition has to remain somewhat veiled because disclosure can compromise the integrity of the model, the value of the design or the secrecy and protection of the users and stakeholders.

First, never underestimate the power and importance of intrigue as a value unto itself.  I have found most people want access to something that others cannot obtain.  By leveraging the component of “working on a technology that can change the way we think about a very sensitive and highly charged issue, leveraging a new approach with a radically different outcome,” you have added curiosity into the equation.  Human nature has consistently shown that the more restricted the access, the more coveted the entry becomes!

Also, it serves you well as qualification tool to frame the interest and capacity for next steps.  Remember, if your concerns regarding the protection of company information is legitimate (which it needs to be), you can begin the query of “not being sure if your venture fund (or company, etc.) is even actively investing in early or mid-stage companies.”  None of us want to waste time on dead-ends, but never underestimate the value of a concise pitch that creates a “buzz” about you or your company.  In the world of angel investors and early stage VC’s, creating the right persona around your value proposition may lead one disinterested party to refer you to someone who is relevant as an investor, partner or customer.

Finally, it sets the stage for a next step that can take days or weeks of discussion to achieve.  “We would love the opportunity to show you some of what we’re working on, but due to the sensitive nature of what we do, our FIRST step is a non-disclosure agreement.”  By leading with the confidentiality of your business you have changed the paradigm of control, moving the dialogue into what is typically a much later stage discussion element.

Treating the confidential nature of a business as an asset may not sound traditional, but ultimately it can be incredibly effective in separating your identity from the rest of the pack.

Remember, you only have 30 seconds until the doors open….

About the Author Lew Wilks

Lew is the Senior Managing Partner for Bright Peaks Venture Capital and Executive Chairman at NCS. His focus is on the development and support of early stage, high growth companies. His past experience includes Chief Strategy Officer at Qwest Communications, President of GTE Communications Corp, as well as numerous other management, sales, marketing, and technical experiences. Lew began his career as a software engineer in the computing and communications sectors. He holds a B.S. from University of Central Missouri in Public Relations and Computer Science.

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