VC Arif Janmohamed on Nailing Your Elevator Pitch

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VC Arif Janmohamed Advises on Giving the Best Elevator Pitch

How do you capture the attention of a VC in less than a minute?

Last Wednesday, Arif Janmohamed (@arifj), Venture Capitalist at Lightspeed Venture Partners, sat down with our founders for an fnMentoring discussion on preparing your elevator pitch. Arif, whose past investments include Edgespring (acquired by Salesforce.com), IO Turbine (acquired by Fusion-io), RAPsphere (acquired by AppSense) and StreamOnce (acquired by Jive Software), worked with each founder one by one, critiquing their pitches and providing them with a basic framework for improvement, summed up here:

1) Short is sweet.
Keep your elevator pitch at 30 seconds max. Arif noted that a short pitch is most effective in holding the listener’s attention. Too much information creates a sensory overload, distracting the listener from understanding what you do and allowing their attention to wander off.

2) Divide your pitch into three points.
Arif outlined three points that your elevator pitch should hit: what you do, who you do it for, and why it matters.  fnMember Jonathan Kong of ConvergeIO added that your intro should also establish the credibility of you and your team.

3) Your goal is a longer conversation.
If you only have 30 seconds to cover three points, being concise is key. Arif advised to stay away from buzzwords and opt for clarity. Shaheen Kazi of TerraDash warned that too much detail can backfire. An effective elevator pitch should just be enough to capture the listener’s interest for a longer conversation.

4) End with an ask.
Don’t end your pitch abruptly. Think about what you want to get out of the interaction and end with an ask.

5) Prepare.
Stand in front of a mirror, time yourself, and practice.  Arif commented, “Practice! It is such a cliché, but the first impression really does matter.”

VC Arif Janmohamed Advises on Giving the Best Elevator Pitch

A big thanks to Arif for his time and mentorship! If you are a member, you can listen to the full fnMentoring recording here.


To access FN’s many benefits, including an invitation to our next fnMentoring session,  learn about our approval process.

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Read more by Founders Network

Founded in 2011, Founders Network offers lifelong peer mentorship to over 600 tech startup founders globally. Our platform, programs and high-touch service facilitate authentic experience sharing, warm introductions and long-term professional relationships. Additional benefits include over $500k in startup discounts and promotion to 2,000 newsletter readers. Members are located in San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Toronto, London and other tech hubs. Each month our Membership Committee admits a new cohort of full-time tech founders who are nominated by an existing member.

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