We spend a lot of time (rightly) on the capabilities of our products – identifying valuable problems and compelling solutions. This focus is ideal for addressing the needs of our users. But what if people abandon our products before trying them? First impressions matter – both for buyers and users.
SXSW BizSpark Accelerator
Microsoft sponsored the BizSpark Accelerator at SXSW this year, where several startups competed by giving a 2 minute presentation of their products / companies. The panel of judges emceed by Guy Kawasaki and Brad King. The contestents were the top 20 from 200 submissions.
I was lucky to attend part of the event, focusing on the eight finalists in the Innovative Web Technologies area. I recorded the presentations, but the camera shakes so badly in my hand that watching them is like trying to listen to a lecture while riding a rollercoaster.
Two minutes is barely enough time to make a first impression. Each presenter had 15 minutes of Q&A with the panel, where they could get into more details and provide feedback to the entrepreneurs. First impressions, however, are made by the very first thing you say. Here’s the first sentance from each of the presenting finalists:
- klout.net – Hi everyone, I’m Joe. At klout, we measure influence across the social web.
- OtherInbox - Thanks everybody, my name is Josh Baer, and I’m here to tell you about OtherInbox, which helps you save your real inbox for real people.
- Piryx - The idea is that you want to wake up, create an account, run for public office, and change the world. [Note - I lost the first sentance when recording, but this is the first substantive sentance]
- Ribbit.com – My name is David Lee, I am the director of strategy and business development for Ribbit Corporation. Ribbit is a cloud service for enabling communications innovation, bringing together the internet, voice, and data.
- Ringlight - I’m here to talk to you about my company, Ringlight. My name is Brandon Wiley, I’ve been working in peer-to-peer for a decade, from the first peer-to-peer application, freenet, to the most popular peer-to-peer application in the world, bittorrent.
- Thrive - My name is Avi Karnani from Thrive. I’m going to show you a new feature we’re about to launch called behavioral budgeting.
- YouData - Let’s talk about internet advertising. [something garbled as the speaker had trouble speaking clearly into the microphone]
- Zoomorama - Hello, my name is Franklin, and I’m president of Zoomorama. Zoomorama comes from panorama, the wide open space, and indeed zooming is not just about details, it is mostly about space. [Note that in parallel with the speaker, the display was showing some compelling image zooming technologies]
Every one of these presenters made a first impression. klout, OtherInbox, and Zoomorama (and maybe Piryx) tell you what their products do in the opening sentance. Ringlight and YouData both set the tone by identifying an existing space. Thrive lets us know that whatever it is, we haven’t heard of it before, and Ribbit shared a lot of jargon words.
When I was in presales, I learned how to craft an elevator pitch. What I had not heard of before this year’s conference was the one-floor/two-floor pitch.
An elevator pitch is a presentation of what your product (or company) does, that is short enough to be delivered while conveniently riding on an elevator with the really important person you want to hear your pitch. It is a powerful image, used to remind us that people will usually give us a brief opportunity to get their attention. To get more time, we have to earn additional attention.
The one-floor elevator pitch is a variation of the elevator pitch, but imagine your audience gets off the elevator after one floor. You really only have time to get out a sentance or two – just like the above quotes.
Which of the eight presenters, after giving the quotes above, would get invited to follow their listener down the hall, and which would have to stay on the elevator?
I saw the full presentations, and one of the presenters is a client, so I won’t share an opinion. Would love to hear yours.
As a product manager, what would you have wanted the presenter to say for the one-floor elevator pitch?