Here’s a pro tip that’s extremely obvious, but often completely ignored by entrepreneurs everywhere: You should be able to explain your startup in one sentence. That’s it. No exceptions.
Beyond the obvious rule that founders should never start a company just because they really like calling themselves “CEO,” being able to explain what you do in as little as one sentence is perhaps the absolute best way you can prepare yourself for success. It means your company actually exists for a reason, because you realize your purpose at its very core.
This isn’t even about saving busy VCs time or the declining attention span of society. The truth is, saying something in the fewest words possible eliminates confusion and fluff, so there’s no way to dress up a terrible idea as something worthy of more than a trash bin.
What not to say
When it comes to as finding the perfect words to say while crafting your short and sweet pitch, this is the second way most startups and PR firms end up doing it wrong.
Here’s a mind-numbingly easy guideline : as soon as words like disrupt, stealth, rock star and gamification are used, all is likely lost. As for words like network, social and platform, try to be careful.
Here’s another warning: If you can’t describe your company without talking about another company, you should probably hit the drawing board again. Joking about a Microsoft Kin for Tech Incubators is always fun, but when you’re wrapped up in a vision, it’s surprisingly easy to lean on the crutch of familiarity. It’s also tough to navigate this problem when providing add-on services for another service of piece of software. All you can do is stay cautious.
The tech industry isn’t everything
I may just happen to have a problem with things ending up too meta, but tech blogging about tech blogging and startups servicing startups makes us all start to look like idiots. Maybe this is a benefit or a curse of living outside The Valley, but after a certain point, people need to realize that tech startups don’t actually comprise the entirety of the world economy.
We’re a major piece of the puzzle and deserve attention, but we aren’t the center of the universe, either. Having some context about how you and your company fits into the world helps you make something that everyone needs — not just another gadget or service that only the trendiest of bloggers and early adopters can use. Honing in on a target market is fine, but for god’s sake, get some fresh air.
The beauty of the tech industry is its promise for brighter days, new solutions to problems that plague our lives and fast-acting ideas that can change the world. It’s not without its poisons, but that’s life.
If you’re focusing on making something genuinely interesting or useful in a way that leads to real progress, no matter how big or small, you’re starting off in the right direction. In that case, pitch me here in one sentence: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re only looking for an exit or heard that apps are the trendy thing right now, please go elsewhere.