The 140-character (Tweet) pitch

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Entrepreneurs fret over the 30-second “elevator pitch”. In my twenty years starting startups, I did twice pitch in an actual elevator. But here in 2016, entrepreneurs should be freting more over their 140 character, one-line “tweet pitch”.

Why is this so important? Simple. Your startup is going to listed on a dozen sites online, and all of them will include that one-line pitch: LinkedIn, Angel List, CrunchBase, Gust, Enable Impact, industry databases, crowdfunding sites, accelerators, competitions, etc.

My job includes perusing through tens of thousands of these profiles, to seek out potential “fledglings” my for my accelerator. Other investors may not see thousands, but they will see hundreds of these one-liners each year.

The tweet pitch gives you just three seconds to make a first impression, to entice the audience to bother to read the next paragraph, or to click to see the details. Too few of the one-liners are clear, succinct and to the point.

To demonstrate, let’s start with one my own fledglings. They applied to Fledge with: “FRC is on a mission to preserve the Future of Clothing”. Luckily for them I already knew what they really did, which is “Recycling cotton garment waste to create renewable fiber”. Personally, I’m still pushing for simpler: “Evrnu makes cotton recyclable”.

One of my Kick companies was: “TBGC a foodie-lifestyle company”, a one-liner that describes every organic food business. The company now says, “TBGC makes hummus, but from black eyed peas”. See the clarity? Tell us what you do, and in this case, what makes it unique.

An applicant that didn’t get invited said: “We are a startup that puts technology at the service of the environment”. This doesn’t tell us what problem is being solved or what the solution might be. The only useful words are “technology” and “environment”. This company’s website now says “We combine technology with environment”, which is just as vague, but at least eliminates most of the superfluous words. Further into their website is a much better, clearer tweet-sized explanation: “Web and mobile application for recycling”, an improvement, but still not specific enough. Their product description includes the one-liner they should have started with: “With XYZ, find the options to recycle or dispose your waste”.

XYZ harness the power of photosynthesis” piques my interest and makes me want to know more, but I’m then greatly disappointed to discover this company is really “An online magazine focused on natural medicines”. Or “Explaining the power of natural medicines” to bring back a bit of the mystique but with “explain” providing some hint that it’s a company producing content and with “natural medicines” being to the point vs. “photosynthesis”.

Do you need your company name in the pitch? That depends on the context. Ideally, take a look at some other profiles to see the layout before you fill out your own profile.

A few more examples of good tweet pitches:

  • A healthy snack food category disrupter, Hummus 2.0
  • DEF imports and distributes solar lighting products to rural households
  • Hyper-localized aquaponic food production
  • TVW helps individuals and companies to offset their CO2 emissions
  • Portable USB hydropower from water faucets and pipes
  • Cheaper, greener, better plastics

And a few that are too vague:

  • Disrupting the e-commerce market to give local business a piece of the pie
  • A mechanical wing or fin that can pump water/create electricity
  • Science-based incubator for life goals. Tech tools, experts & community
  • Turn Your Selfies into huge discounts!
  • A sustainable bag, accessory and apparel manufacturer
  • Producer and supplier of premium berry seed powder and oils

If the reader can’t immediately understand what problem is being solved, the description may not be enough: “Producer and supplier of premium berry seed powder and oils” is nice and clear, but I’ve no idea who needs berry seed powder and oil.

Notice how the good tweets tend to be shorter than the vague tweets. Less truly is more. Let’s take out and shuffle the words to try and fix the vague tweets:

  • E-commerce for local businesses, keeping their slice of the retail pie
  • A novel wind-powered wing that pumps water, without electricity
  • The incubator for your life, teaching tried and testing techniques for meeting your goals
  • Product placements, in your selfies
  • Upcycling “waste” into bags, accessories and apparel
  • Berry seed powder and oils as nutritious, natural food additives

These are still a bit wordy and long, but greatly improved. If these companies were in my accelerator, I’d push them to continue refining them until they border on poetic.

English is a great language for marketing, as there are a million words to pick from. “English, a language of choice”.

By "Luni"

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