How and Why the Elevator Pitch Started

An elevator pitch is a quick, catchy pitch on a business idea that you’re looking to sell to an investor. It has to be fast, so-named the elevator pitch because it should be conducted in about the time it takes to ride an elevator with the intended recipient. Come out swinging with your most impressive ideas, told in a unique way so as to pique the interest of your boss, investor, etc.

History of the Elevator Pitch

As such, it should be to the point and engaging, and should be no longer than 60 seconds or so, preferably between 15 and 30 seconds.

How it All Started

So where did the elevator pitch begin? There are a couple of theories out there.

The first one is an urban legend harking back to the golden days of Hollywood. Anybody who was anybody went to Hollywood with their scripts to pitch to directors and producers hoping to get a foot in the door and make a buck. If you were a screenwriter and saw a producer getting on an elevator, you ran after them and pitched them your idea in the time it took to ride to their floor.

Thus, the pitch had to be convincing and concise. The term “pitch” referenced the person’s ability to achieve the perfect tone of voice and volume so as to be heard above all the ambient noise (elevators were not nearly as quiet as they are today).  If the idea was met favorably, they were invited to discuss the matter further. If not, well, it was back to the drawing board.

The second theory is much less glamorous but involves Elisha Otis’ very first demonstration of an elevator featuring a safety brake in 1852. It is said he rode the elevator while his assistant cut the hoisting ropes, demonstrating that the safety brake would come on and save the car from plummeting (which was a common occurrence back then without safety brakes).

No one is really sure where the term elevator pitch originated. However it came to be, it certainly has stuck. Today, it’s been adapted to refer to the high-powered sales pitch used by business people to get their boss’ attention for an idea they want to grow.

US News and World Report has some tips on how to deliver the best elevator pitch possible.

Know your purpose and define it well.

  • Put it in writing and practice it. Say it out loud just as you would to your boss.
  • Make your introduction clear and attention grabbing.
  • Tell an engaging story.
  • Ask and answer a question, providing a solution to the problem at hand.
  • Introduce a wow factor.
  • Give a call to action, i.e., what the recipient has to do to get back in touch with you if they like your idea.

Here at Mowrey Elevator, we’re not in the business of pitching high powered ideas. We’re just good at what we do: repairing, servicing and installing elevators. Call us today to find out how we can help you.