Part four of a series of posts on the elements that have made the best propositions to 4iP work well.
If you're idea is great, then you should be able to sum it up in a line or two. Less than 50 words. 50 words fit in an email. Email is not a bad thing, especially when your Digital Commissioner is male, apparently. Researchers with too much time on their hands (and not enough email, evidently) have discovered that men are more likely to be responsive, and therefore persuaded by, written e...
For 4iP we use an online submissions system
, a structured email if you will, which allows us to view and make decisions on a very large number of ideas in a relatively short period of time. But regardless of who is looking at your pitch and through which medium, there's a lot to be said for making your idea short and sweet even if, for you, the way of getting it out there is rather more complex. Here are some ideas to make your ideas hit the sweet spot.
1. Don't start with how your thingy works: tell us a story
What's the pain in the neck, the thing that doesn't do what it should, the gap in the market? Now tell me that you'll solve it, making me eternally grateful in the process. Now tell me what it is you're proposing to get there.
2. Differentiate, differentiate, differentiate
So, what is it you're proposing? Hopefully it's something like "X
is the only Y
that does Z
for these people
in these places
who want to do this
at a time when we're thinking/believing/hoping/seeking this
's got a point.
3. Don't explain things to me that I don't understand
If I don't understand what you're telling me it's not because I'm hard of understanding. It's because the explanation is not about the core idea, which you've just spent so much time honing down. Where people don't understand how your thing works it stops them understanding all the good stuff we've just talked about. Sometimes it's better to leave that until we've said we like your idea. Or, if the innovation is what's going to grab us then take us through things in plain English, in a logical progression. Explain it to someone unconnected to your business and see if they get it. If not, back to the drawing board. This one isn't from some dumbo that doesn't understand technology; it's from David S Rose who's raised millions of dollars
, and invested them, too, in technology startups.
4. Show us we can trust you
Having a great idea is a start, but knowing you can deliver it is important, too. In your description of your approach is there something you've done in the past that shows how you go about things? Is there something that shows how your way of doing things, your technology or your ideas have shaped the shape of things to come? If you're not the one that's going to deliver it then it's good to see you know who can - avid 38minuters show this every day in the weird and wonderful friendships they forge.
5. We don't need detail (yet) - do you pass the nightclub test?
The chances are, if we like your idea, that we're going to invest a lot of our time, effort and expertise in building your idea into something that we think will work. It might be a bit different, or a big bit different, from what you initially envisaged. We don't offer the chance to upload your jpegs, PowerPoints and mockups when you're giving us your idea. Your idea should make sense and tempt people in without it, and there's every chance all or some of it will change anyway. After all, when the people we want to use this and be part of it are telling their friends about it, they're not going to have your PowerPoint and fifteen minutes to pitch it to their friends. Does your idea stand up to the "screaming-across-the-nightclub test"?
6. Be an optimistic realist:
Another one from David Rose. Tell us stuff that is positive, that shows growth, but be realistic, too. This is hard when we're often going after niches, but in those niches we might be less interested in pure numbers and more interested in potential impact.
7. Competition and success:
Don't tell us that there is not any competition for your idea. The chances are that by doing this you're telling us something we know is not true. If you tell me there is no widget that does x, y or z, the chances are I know someone that's done it, or know someone who knows someone who has. Worse still, though, don't underestimate the competition. If your idea can be copied by them quicker than you can get onto the next idea, then leave it and onto the next one.
Pic: Begin the pitch