As an entrepreneur, one of the first things people always ask in the early days of a new business is, “what’s your 1-line pitch.” While it’s kind of silly to try to summarize everything about a new company in a single sentence (or, better yet, 3-4 words), it’s also vitally important. Being able to quickly convey the basic concept underlying a new venture is the first step in almost any conversation – with key early employees, potential investors, and pilot clients. The one line pitch opens the door for the longer “elevator pitch”. A successful elevator pitch can lead to a longer, more meaningful conversation. But without that 1-liner to start, you’re working upstream. In short, pitching a new business is a lot like dating – you need to have a strong opening line.
Most 1-line pitches encompass a type of reference:
We’re the Uber of package delivery
We’re Quora for education
We’re LinkedIn on steroids
We’re Facebook, LinkedIn, and Yelp for restaurants
Referencing back to an established, fast-growing company or accepted idea is a powerful way to quickly convey the general concepts behind the business. I wouldn’t necessarily know what the “Uber of package delivery” is, but I’d know what the company is trying to do and could make some quick decisions on its viability and interest to me.
In the early days, I really struggled to come up with an impactful 1-line pitch for AdverseEvents. The problems we were trying to solve weren’t well known outside of our target industry, our approach to solutions was entirely new, and we were testing concepts and pivoting so often that we couldn’t keep our thoughts straight. It was killing me, but I just couldn’t boil AdverseEvents down to 1-line. And I knew that my failure cost us some early potential meetings and relationships. Fortunately, we found people who were patient enough for a longer explanation in those early days.
When we formally launched the business in 2011, we also needed a marketing tag line. We ultimately settled on "Drug Safety Redefined". We’ve stuck with that for the last three years and I think it’s a strong, positive message. But it still doesn’t cut it as a 1-line pitch. If you know nothing about drug safety, what does it mean that we’re redefining it? And if you do know drug safety, how exactly are we redefining it and why? So, while it’s still a relevant marketing tag line for us today, there are just too many open questions to use that as our 1-line pitch.
And the reality is that the burden of not having a cohesive 1-line pitch diminished over time. As we grew and got user traction, raised outside capital, and established a client base, the 1-line pitch became less and less important. People began to know enough about us that we just didn’t need that 1-liner anymore.
In fact, I totally forgot about my struggles to come up with a 1-line pitch until just a few days ago.
In a meeting last week with a potential client, we took them through our normal sales demonstration and discussion of our product and processes. They asked some good questions throughout and then at the very end of the meeting, one of the attendees said, “This is really cool. You guys are like the Moneyball of Drug Safety”.
Boom! There it was.
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game is a book by Michael Lewis that tells the tale of the Oakland A’s baseball team. Faced with a huge budgetary disadvantage to their big-city competitors, they employed a unique statistical approach to player selection that enabled them to field a highly successful team on a shoe-string budget. In the process, they completely up-ended the way baseball players were evaluated and valued. Initially derided and mocked, their methods were ultimately commonly accepted and deployed throughout professional baseball and in other sports around the world. The book was made into a 2011 movie starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. Both were ultimately nominated for Academy Awards for their performances in the film.
Almost four years since we started working on AdverseEvents, someone finally figured out our 1-line pitch – The Moneyball of Drug Safety.
It works on so many levels – the application of data and statistics in a new way to an industry very cemented in its old ways of doing things, a small under-funded band of geeky people trying to compete and disrupt a business long dominated by behemoths, and a group met with initial derision and even mocking because of their new ways of approaching a problem.
And while the Oakland A’s haven’t won a World Series since incorporating their new methods, they’ve remained consistently competitive against more well-funded teams and their methods have gone from outlier to established practice. We’d certainly like to claim the same type success in the years ahead.
So, there you have it – AdverseEvents: Moneyball for Drug Safety.
Now the only question is: who am I in this comparison? I’d like to think I’m Brad Pitt. But sadly, I think I’m more Jonah Hill. With less hair.
Related Read: Pharma’s Gonna Hate, and We Just Shake it Off
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