The 20% Project Elevator Pitch

One of the elements of my mid-year exam this month is going to be the 20% Project Elevator Pitch. The term comes from the notion that an innovator with a great idea might find herself in an elevator with a powerful investor. She has a very short period of time to convince this investor to buy into her idea. She needs to deliver an elevator pitch.

For this assignment, I am asking my students to prepare a pitch about their 20% Project in 30 seconds. Throughout the exam, I will pull students outside and ask them to deliver their pitch to me. I’m following the model established by a cheesy video I found on YouTube explaining an elevator pitch.




Sean Wise is a business journalist for The Globe and Mail in Toronto and the host of Canada's version of Shark Tank. According to Wise, good elevator pitches have two parts: the pain statement and value proposition. First the individual lays out a problem that needs to be solved. Then she establishes how her idea is going to solve it.

Wise also states that elevator pitches should also be succinct, easy to understand, greed inducing, and irrefutable. I prefer “good inducing” for this project. I tell my students that they should deliver their pitch in a way that compels me to pull out my wallet and write a check to support their project. I’ll be leaving my checkbook at home that day just in case some of them are that good.

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