Simple is Elegant

Simple is Elegant

When Albert Einstein met Charlie Chaplin, Einstein said, “What I most admire about your art, is your universality. You don’t say a word, yet the world understands you!”

“It’s true,” Chaplin replied. “But your glory is even greater! The whole world admires you, even though they don’t understand a word of what you say.”

We doubt that any of us have attained Charlie Chaplin or Albert Einstein status, despite the alleged brilliance and what we’ll call the overall pyrrhic brilliance evidenced in certain quarters of our industry. But having hosted investor breakfasts and attended networking and pitch events for quite some time now, we have observed a few things that we would like to share with you:

Whatever it is that you’re doing, you can explain it to anyone. Simply. Really. A brilliant marketer friend of ours named Leila Belmahi was working with a company whose founder insisted that what his team was building was far too complicated to be explained in simple terms. Her solution: she continued the meeting at the Hayden Planetarium, where they watched the show and upon leaving, she turned to him and said, “If they can explain space and the cosmos to children, you can explain whatever it is that you’re doing.”

Know your audience. Not all investors are the same. Most funds and or/investors have an investment philosophy or a certain focus or foci. If you’re attending a networking event and there are investors or corporates present and you happen to stumble on to one, before you launch into your pitch, find out who that person is, what they’re looking for and most importantly, if your technology is a potential fit, spin your elevator pitch in a way that it directly impacts that investor or corporate. Strike a chord. Remember: they’re there looking for potential investments/new revenue streams. Listen. Pause. And think before you speak. There are those times when it’s important to think outside of the dispenser. It’s also important to always be able think on your feet, meaning, don’t overdo it at the open bar. And don’t be shy. This is one of those times when you literally go big or go home.

@BenedictEvans tweeted that pitch deck lets you structure the conversation in ways that you want, lets you show the data you’ve chosen, makes sure you don’t miss anything you want to say, and lets you rehearse. It’s your open-book exam.

While a pitch deck is an important introduction or leave behind, it’s also basically a visual tool to help you tell your story. If you’re losing your audience, be prepared to go off script. Quickly.

So-called crowded markets don’t throw us and note to self: if a market is crowded, one reason may be that no one has yet found that special sauce that could turn a company that’s so-called late to the party into the category killer. Think Google, which entered a crowded market just when the bubble burst. Last time we checked, they’re still around. Or Facebook, which also entered a crowded market – but you couldn’t join initially without a .edu, and no one wants to be excluded now, do they? First Round did an excellent piece that’s a must-read (or listen): Future Founders, Here’s How to Spot and Build in Nonobvious Markets.

Game over? Crypto came along and is reinventing currency. It’s still early days.

Whoever thought that cauliflower would become a superstar and would piss off the rice lobby (How cauliflower took over your pizza, your kitchen, and the world How does a food become a trend? Ask cauliflower).

Einstein said, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination.

If cauliflower can piss off the rice lobby (Cauliflower ‘Rice’ is ‘Misleading and Confusing’ Says Rice Lobby), you have no excuse.

Think bigger. Or maybe think smaller. Steve Jobs took the entire stereo system to one round button.

Simple and elegant. Onward and forward.


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