Prior to spending a ton of time on a business plan or an investor deck, create a simple Haley Pitch. It's the most efficient way to obtain valuable feedback from advisors, mentors, and the critics you respect.
You don't need to nail it.
However, you should be able to demonstrate that you have invested at least one hundred hours discussing prototypes, mockups, storyboards, or wireframes with potential users and/or customers.
While creating pitches for my last four ventures, we used a fictional character called Haley as our ideal user.
Depending on the venture, Haley has been a mom, an event planner, the CEO of a non-profit, and a bride.
Once you've got it down, you'll be able to deliver the Haley Pitch in three minutes.
Slide One: Backstory & Problem
Start with a story. Quickly describe Haley, her situation (context), and her acute problem.
When using pictures, you don't need demographic details.
“Haley is a bride. She’s marrying Jeff. Haley needs to discuss and obtain feedback on cakes, venues, bands, dresses, food, and a myriad of other details from her bridesmaids, her mother, her in-laws, from Jeff, and even from Jeff’s friends! Coordinating all this using email will create a clustercluck. Clusterclucks are hard to manage.”
Clustercluck defined: “Any set of circumstances in which massive disorganization has the potential to cause serious damage, or a disastrous situation that results from the cumulative errors of several people or groups.”
Please also read “It’s Not What You Said, It’s How You Made Them Feel” by Tyler Crowley.
Slide Two: Product Scaffolding
Similar to construction scaffolding, entrepreneurs can use 'scaffolding' to construct the concept of their venture.
In one sentence (see template below), combine the job-to-be-done (by your product or service), your brand name, and your unique value proposition.
This is also where you show a screenshot(s), storyboards, an early demo, and/or paint (over the phone) a clear, concise picture of your product or service.
Template: “When Haley wants to X, she'll use Y to get Z.”
X - job-to-be-done / pain to be eliminated
Y - your brand name
Z - unique value proposition
“When Haley wants to privately coordinate her wedding plans with everyone who matters, she'll use StackChat to simply manage a related stack of issues and input [i.e.: prevent a clustercluck}."
Below are some additional examples that combine a job-to-be-done with a brand and a value proposition.
When Haley wants to be transported across town, Haley uses Uber to obtain inexpensive on-demand transportation.
When Haley wants to remember a song, Haley uses Shazam to rapidly acquire essential song information.
When Haley wants to consume a lot of information, Haley uses Instapaper to transform distracting web pages into a uniform stream of curated information.
When Haley wants news, Haley uses the Boston Globe website to obtain current, reliable, genuine information.
Read: David Cancel talking about his “No Ands” rule.
Read: my post on Product Scaffolding
Slide Three: More Scaffolding.
For those who can't relate to your first job-to-done example (e.g.: coordinating wedding plans), quickly outline additional examples.
"Travel planning, housing decisions, big ticket purchase, repairs, group dining, health, and healthcare decisions...all have potential to become clusterclucks. When Haley wants to privately coordinate these things with everyone that matters, she'll use StackChat to simply manage a related stack of issues and input."
Slide Four: Mobile App: Job-To-Be-Done
If your mobile app only had ONE button (think Shazam), what would it do for users? If your answer contains the word ‘and’, be prepared to defend the clarity of your product vision. Your mobile app should be the one-click, one-button manifestation of your product scaffolding, and not a feature cacciatore.
"When Haley launches StackChat, she will be able to quickly respond to her clustecluck messages by subcategory."
Learn more about Jobs-To-Be-Done on Medium
Slide Five: Instant Onboarding Ideas
Do you have any ideas that will enable a user to get up and running quickly?
It’s really hard to move users from being curiously interested to becoming committed users. Enable users to experience maximum value for minimal effort. Avoid complex signups, forms, data capture wizards, upload requirements, unnecessary this-before-that roadblocks, and pre-use instruction manuals/videos. Give visitors dead-simple ways to try your product...instantly.
"By enabling anyone to enter a Pinterest or YouTube URL, anyone can instantly start a private or public StackChat."
Slide Six: From None to Huge
You might be creating a product that will eventually have broad appeal and become a billion dollar business. However, I would like to hear about the first customer segment you intend to target, and how that segment will lead to related exposure opportunities.
Using round numbers...
“Annually, there are 3.5M brides and grooms like Haley and Jeff, and another 16M bridesmaids and groomsmen; during the wedding process, all these people combined will have 100M conversations with 20M different businesses.”
For any given product or service, there are often multiple segments you could initially target. Pick an entry point (segment) that is easy to define, easy to reach, and most importantly, one that exposes (through usage) your product to a broader audience.
Slide Seven: User Acquisition
Tell me about some of the ideas you have for reaching and acquiring users. For example:
ads and articles in bridal magazines
a partnership with a company that already reaches brides (e.g.: The Knot)
blogging and social media
by creating value for a related party (e.g.: event planners as a conduit)
Slide Eight: Business Model
Outside of selling banner ads, do you have any unique ideas for generating revenue? In the simple example above, regular humans (like Haley) will use StackChat for free, while business users interested in 'stack commerce', routing and queueing controls, and more, will pay $100 per-seat (annual).
Now I get it!
For your product or service, if you can outline the job-to-be-done, your unique value proposition, a brand concept, some go-to-market and onboarding ideas, combined with a product demo, storyboards, or wireframes, we can have a productive conversation. I'm never interested in long resumes, slides filled with text, tables, charts, and (initially) projections. After we get through your product vision, we can talk about plans, strategies, numbers and metrics.
I worked on StackChat with Daniel Clarke. I invested a small amount of capital and created the storyboards; Dan interviewed potential customers; and we both spent a lot of time in coffee shops discussing strategy. At this point, StackChat is not a fully-baked idea. For the job-to-be-done, StackChat's value proposition overlaps with Slack's, and 'clustercluck prevention' is not a slogan we can go to market with. However, there's a bunch of things here, including Haley, worth recycling.