Rhode Island State Rep. Scott Pollard explained it in this way: When he and his wife were having their first house built, they needed to make some decisions about the landscaping. They were to choose between having a large, mature tree or several small seedlings transplanted into their new yard. The big tree would confer a bit of instant prestige and utility (in the form of shade), but was quite expensive since it was so difficult to move. The seedlings were much cheaper to have put in, but needed extra care to ensure that they took root.
The point of this story was that with much effort and huge tax incentives, the State of Rhode Island could probably convince another Fortune 500 company or two to move to Rhode Island and add to the five that we already have. How much easier and more satisfying, though, would it be to provide a favorable environment for entrepreneurs and their start-ups to prosper?
That was the backdrop for John Jarrell and I receiving citations from the Rhode Island House of Representatives on behalf of BioIntraface, in acknowledgment of our winning the 2009 Rhode Island Business Plan Competition (that’s me on the left).
Prior to receiving these citations, we had stood in front of our poster giving our elevator pitches to anyone who would stop and listen. Later, as I listened to Rep. Pollard describe our company to the other representatives, based on the 90 seconds of description that we had provided 10 minutes earlier, I had an epiphany.
We all work very hard to craft our elevator pitches. We practice them on our spouses and whoever else will listen, but which parts are actually sinking in? It seems to me that a perfect way to get this feedback is to give your pitch to someone unfamiliar with your company and your technology and then later ask them to describe you to a third party. Only the points that had the most impact will make it through this abridged game of “telephone.”
Our job as entrepreneurs is to make sure that these two or three points are the ones that we actually want to be remembered.
Incidentally, Representative Pollard and his wife picked the seedlings for their landscaping. I’m sure that they are now beautiful, mature trees.