Monday, June 2, 2008

No One Understands What You're Saying - Keep It Simple Stupid

People often ask me:
"Paul, why don't VCs or customers understand my pitch?"
I will let you in on a little secret. VCs see lots of entrepreneurs, with lots of complex ideas. The way to stand out from the crowd, is to keep things simple - simple to communicate, and simple to understand. In other words,

I can't emphasize the "keep it simple stupid" (KISS) mantra enough. Too many entrepreneurs walk through the door with good ideas, but if you can't clearly communicate the value of your product, then VCs won't bite, and customers definitely won't bite. In the same vein, it should be crystal clear to anyone listening exactly what pain you're solving and how you're solving it. It's not good enough to just list features. VCs see hundreds or thousands of deals each year, and simply don't have the time to translate cryptic, convoluted and long-winded messages.

Most books talk about refining your elevator pitch. While I think that's a critically important tool in communicating the value of your product, I strongly believe that it has to be even simpler than that. I should be able to see how you're going to solve someone's pain in 3 sentences or less:
  1. The pain is _____.
  2. My product/service does _____, thus solving the pain.
  3. You should care/buy because ______. 
I challenge my readers to drastically simplify all of the messages they create around their new business. And if you're not the type who can connect with people based on a simple message, told succinctly, then hire someone who can. They are worth their weight in gold.

Get to the point. Show VCs the pain. Show them how you solve it. Show them why they should care. Keep it simple, so they can understand. If you can get it down to 3 sentences, VC money and customer money will follow.

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