How to Pitch Your Super-Crazy-Sweet Ideas

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In Hollywood, movie execs accept 1% of screenwriting pitches. In Silicon Valley -- to get venture funding -- the percentage becomes much lower. How then in the name of Jermaine-LaJaune-Jackson-Muhammad-Abdul-Aziz do you sell your idea?

Consider John A and Sally B:

John A: "Dudes, my idea is the bomb. I'll build a super-crazy web application that houses a million functions, lets business users choose which functions are applicable to them to increase their profits -- and we'll all be super-rich. Fund me." Sally B: "Dudes, my idea is almost the bomb. I'll build a super-crazy web application that houses a million functions, lets business users choose which functions are applicable to them to increase their profits -- but first, I'll need your input to improve this sucker."

Drumrooooll: Sally B. Receives Coveted Funding!

We all get so caught up in having the greatest, shiniest, most beautiful idea -- all thought out. Yet, the best ideas--ironically (and stupid), as it may seem--aren't all thought out. (Note: No idea -- no matter how "great" it may seem -- is all thought out. Now you know why the bestselling software, non-fiction books, luxury cars, fast airplanes, cruise line ships, etc., etc., etc., still go through version changes). Instead, ideas that win invite collaboration on the person receiving the pitch (a.k.a. "the catcher"). Psychologically, people run with ideas that they come up with themselves. Your job then is to make your idea "our" idea.

From the Prof

Says management professor, Kimberly Elsbach:

These pitchers exude passion for their ideas and find ways to give catchers (i.e. those being pitched) a chance to shine. By doing so, they induce the catchers to judge them as likable collaborators. Oscar-winning writer, director, and producer Oliver Stone told me that the invitation to collaborate on an idea is a "seduction."

What's the Moral?

Use the following as a template for your pitch, which you can surely customize to your liking: "I have this super-sweet idea. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. But first, we'd love to collaborate with you to refine the idea." Use it. Share it. Love it. (We'll get off our high-horse now.)

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Posted on July 08

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