Mad Libs For Pitches: How To Perfect The One Sentence Pitch

You’re the founder of a fledgling startup locked in a room with angel investor Ron Conway for exactly 30 seconds, what do you say? If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you fumble for the words to succinctly describe your startup in a sentence or two. That seems simple enough, what could go wrong in under a minute?

According to the Founder Institute’s Adeo Ressi: a lot. When it comes to the one sentence pitch, Ressi says “Most entrepreneurs manage to screw it up… How much better would the world be if every startup could explain their business well in one sentence?”

To help entrepreneurs perfect the art of the micro pitch, he’s created a rudimentary template in Mad Libs style:

My company, __(insert name of company)__, is developing __(a defined offering)__ to help __(a defined audience)__ __(solve a problem)__ with __(secret sauce)__.

According to Ressi, “most entrepreneurs add useless adjectives, define their audience too vaguely and have a weak value proposition with no secret sauce.” He says articulate entrepreneurs are specific, avoid buzzwords, can adroitly describe the market and target consumer and, in the space of one sentence, even hint at a revenue model. (See video above, where Ressi breaks down each component in under five minutes.)

Given the high probability of a brief encounter with a major investor in Silicon Valley, Ressi’s Mad Lib tool is helpful for any young entrepreneur. However, beyond the obvious real world application value, it’s also a fun exercise to help you focus your formal pitch and understand how you want to articulate your business.

If you would like to learn more about the Founder Institute or would like to join their program, the deadline to apply for the Bay Area and Houston locations is November 7. The Founder Institute is also hosting free pitch workshops, “Ideation Bootcamps” in Seattle on November 10 and in Palo Alto, this Friday, November 5. You can sign up here.

Bonus Advice: Try out your one-line pitch in comments, and Adeo will help you refine it.

Bonus Footage: To further prepare for the real world, watch Adeo rip into four elevator pitches in under two minutes (NSFW):