Whoever knows he is deep, strives for clarity; whoever would
like to appear deep to the crowd, strives for obscurity.
I joined Rogue Research when they were nearing the completion
of the initial development of their product and were starting to
look for people to market both the product and the company.
Prior to my joining the company, they were using this elevator pitch...
Rogue Research is revolutionizing the way in
which large-scale, mission critical applications will be delivered
and deployed. Cloud technology from Rogue Research is architected
for order of magnitude improvements in cost and performance characteristics.
Much like workers in a beehive, a Rogue Cloud brings together up to
several hundred thousand workers into a single, high-availability
computing environment perfect for delivering mission-critical applications.
When compared with current approaches, applications developed with
Rogue technology are significantly more available (Cloudbased applications
have no reason to ever go down), significantly more scalable (capable of
growing from a handful of CPUs to hundreds of thousands of processing
elements), are inexpensive to maintain (all members of a Cloud are
always administered as a single system, no matter how large or complex),
and require at least 90% less capital to acquire. Multiple Clouds may be
clustered or spread geographically, and can be linked to existing computing
As soon as I joined the company and started talking to people and
judging whether this version of the Rogue Research elevator pitch was
effective, it quickly became clear that there were a number of problems
First, this version of the Rogue Research elevator pitch was
much too complex. All of those parenthetical statements made it hard to
deliver, much less listen too. To a large degree, this version of the
Rogue Research elevator pitch assumed the audience was going to read
or listen carefully to what we had to say. That didn’t turn out
to be a valid assumption. At that time we were raising money from angel
investors and this elevator pitch generally just left them confused.
They couldn’t figure out what it was that we did or made. They
also couldn’t figure out what type of company we were; whether
we were a hardware company or a software company.
As a result, they generally tuned us out quickly.
A second weakness of this version of the Rogue Research elevator
pitch was that it focused on the technology and pretty much ignored
the product and the customer. This wasn’t surprising, given
that the company was founded and run by engineers. However, while
engineers love to think and talk about technologies, at the end of
the day Ordinary People buy products and solutions, not raw
Finally, the biggest problem with this version of the Rogue Research
elevator pitch was that it did not highlight the credibility of the team.
This was a problem for two reasons. First, what we were doing was cutting
edge and risky. As a result, the credibility of the team was a major
consideration. Second, one of the things we had a ton of was credibility.
The heart of the team was made up of people who had built another succesful
product and company. However, the initial version of the Rogue Research
elevator pitch never mentioned that critical fact.
After coming on board and familiarizing myself with what we had to sell,
I developed a new elevator pitch that went like this...
Rogue Research has developed a software product,
called Cloud Creator, which enables businesses and other organizations
to simultaneously reduce the cost, and improve the reliability, of
mission critical applications.
Cloud Creator enables large numbers of commodity
computers to join together and form a self-organizing, self-healing,
and self-managing system called a Cloud. A Cloud is more survivable,
more scalable, and more affordable than existing solutions like fault
tolerant computers and application servers.
Rogue Research is led by _____, former co-founder
and CEO of _____, which was acquired by in 2000 in a deal valued at more
than $100 million.
This new version of the Rogue Research elevator pitch worked much
better for a number of reasons.
First, it put the focus on the product, not the technology. We did
this because venture capitalists are usually reluctant to finance, and
customers are reluctant to take a risk on, raw technologies because
they can take so long to develop.
Instead, they prefer products that are close to shipping.
Second, this version of the Rogue Research elevator pitch retained
a fairly technical flavor. This was because we were in the process of
recruiting business partners and were interested in attracting the
attention of both investors and geeks. As a result, it was important
that we maintained a technical edge to our pitch. However, this version
of the elevator pitch did a better job of making clear both the features
and the benefits of the product.
Third, this version of the Rogue Research elevator pitch was very
concise. While we could expand it if necessary to fill time, this
version of our elevator pitch got our most important points across
while explicitly establishing the credibility of the team.
This document is
copyright © 2009 Chris O'Leary and the LIMB Press LLC. It
is licensed for personal use only. Any organizational or
institutional use must be approved by Chris O'Leary.