Gallery of Crappy Pitches


One of the things that we’ve implemented for the upcoming Capital Connections event is that we require all attendees to provide us their “one-line” elevator pitch as part of the application process. We limit them to 125 characters. How important is it? Extremely. You have 125 characters to convince our steering committee that your particular venture will be of interest to fast-growth investors.

It is a curse. Most entrepreneurs CANNOT construct a concise, effective pitch for their venture. However, turn them loose on a friend’s deal, and they can work magic.

Below you will find a sampling of a few good one-line pitches that we’ve seen, some bad ones, and some really ugly ones. We’ve anonymized them where appropriate. We also have some from investors, too – wheee!

Also of note – if you want or need some help in this area, and will be attending our upcoming Capital Connections event, check out our free PitchCamp event. This is one of the topics we’ll be covering.

The Good

COMPANY is an a social network targeting the Harley Davidson crowd.

This is a very solid, ultra-concise pitch, serving up the name of the company, what the company is (a social network), and who their customers/users are (Harley owners). Nice economy of words, and I get it.

COMPANY allows recruiters to quickly find the best candidates based on requirements, not just keywords.

This pitch offers up the name of the company, and then quickly tells you the industry they are in, and how the customer’s pain is solved. This pitch also lays out a nice hook, which will beg logical follow-up questions from a potential investor.

The Bad:

An early stage consumer product company focusing on the mass market.

This pitch tells me nothing. I’ve no idea who they are, what they make or to whom they sell it. All I can tell is that they are a consumer product company. Are they making pork rinds or video games? Or maybe video games about pork rinds? Or maybe edible video games made out of pork rinds? Or, perhaps they make sponges? Who knows.

We’re the leading service provider in our industry in our 3rd year of organic growth, that is moving towards software dev.

If you’re the leading service provider, why are you seeking capital? The rest of the pitch just makes no sense. And again, I’ve no idea what the company name is.

Web based communication platform bringing local businesses and communities together.

Another one lacking a company name, and the description is, well, vague at best. The only thing keeping this pitch in the “bad” category and not the “ugly” category below, is the use of the word “local”, which at least paints it to some degree. There is also no compelling “hook” here. No problem being solved. Take out the word “web” and I’m left with the Yellow Pages. With the word “web”, I envision a “”. Sell me on why you’re different in the pitch.

The Ugly:

A startup providing interactive directories.

Wow. No company name, no customer/market, no problem being solved, no description of the novelty. Nothing. This is probably the worst (albeit concise) pitch I’ve seen in a while.

Using the Power of the Pico-cell, Fed with Fiber to help bring FttP (Fiber to the Premise) to Consumers and SMBs.

Sounds great. Assuming you know what the hell all of that means. Far too much jargon, and not dumbed down enough for investors, much less an elevator ride.

Bonus: Crappy Investor Pitches

Yep – we asked investor attendees to give us their pitch as well. Just goes to show you that investors aren’t immune to the “curse” of not being able to formulate their own pitch.

The Good

Early stage venture fund focused on technology & healthcare/life science investments in southeast & mid-atlantic.

This is a strong pitch, serving up the stage, industries targeted, and geographical focus.

Seeks investments in communication tech, enterprise software, and IT services at all stages of co. development, 1-20m range.

This is a very strong investor pitch. We see the sectors, stages, and investment range. The only thing that would really round it out would be a geographical constraint, but otherwise, this is a very solid pitch.

The Bad

We invest in early-stage companies focused in the IT, Communications, and power/clean-technology sectors.

This pitch is okay, but could be better. At least here we see the industries being targeted, and the phrase “early-stage”. It would be nice to see an investment range or a geographical constraint, though.

$200M growth stage venture fund investing in healthcare, IT, and industrial technology.

Here, we see the size of the fund, which puts things into some perspective. And we see the sectors in which the fund is active. We don’t have an idea of typical deal sizes (except that they do “growth” rounds), and we don’t know what geographical regions they care about.

The Ugly

Experienced Angel investors and startup catalysts.

I’ve no idea what their investment level (although at least they said “angel”). No idea of their industry focus either.

Seeking early stage tech companies who want to work with angel investors

Wow – this narrows it down (sarcasm intended). Angels that are looking at tech companies. Pretty bad. What kind of tech companies? Telecom? Software? SaaS? web? Satellite communications? Life sciences? Bio? Nano? What about deal sizes? Geographies?

Enjoy …Cheers.

1 Comment

  1. That was a load of fun!

    Rarely do I get the chance to read such a series of concise self-descriptions along with commentary. One of my freshman year professors pounded into our heads the necessity of writing concisely. Your commentary shows why business writing should care more about addressing its audience.

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