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Last Updated: November 14, 2022

Pitching: How to explain what we do in a clear way

Can you explain what your business does in 1 or 2 sentences?

In this blog post, I have put together videos and checklists that should be able to help you improve the way you talk about yourself and what you do.

This is valid for a pitch (given verbally) and for what you write on your website.

First, here's a short 40-second clip from Michael Seibel of YCombinator who has helped companies like AirBNB start from scratch.  

"The number one mistake I see founders making is they can't explain what their business does."

"The best founders can explain in 1 or 2 sentences exactly what their business does."

"They can explain it to a customer, their mother [...] they can explain it to anyone of any level of knowledge about their industry, [...]"

"They can do it without stumbling."

-Michael Seibel, Y Combinator

In this next video, Mike Harris, who founded 3 multi-billion pound businesses shares a summary of his pitch architecture.  

"I've listened to thousands of pitches, [...] less than 1% left me interested."

"If you can't pitch, nothing works."

-Mike Harris

Here are some of the gems.

  1. Don't be boring.
  2. No business jargon.
  3. No technical jargon.
  4. Simplify it.
  5. Be clear.
  6. Be unique.  Have a product nobody else has or focus on a particular niche that you understand better than everybody else.
  7. Don't sound weird at the beginning.
  8. No silly claims.
  9. Show that you are excited about what you do.
  10. Show that you understand how tough your potential client problem is.

Mike wrote Find your lightbulb which you can find on amazon.  Click on the book image below to preview the summary or to buy.


  1. Clarity.   A great answer to the question "What it is you do?" leaves people interested, excited and inspired.
  2. Credibility.  Why people should listen to you?  Why should they care?
  3. Relevance.  The niche for whom it is for.  Your visitor needs to understand the how hard the problem you solve.  
  4. Believability.  What is the solution?
  5. Grounded Enthusiasm.  

Y Combinator's 7 Questions

A pitch can be verbal, but also in a written format.  

Kevin Hale from Y Combinator shares 7 Questions your visitors ask themselves when they land on your website.  

Y Combinator helps startup companies.  AirBNB and Stripe are two notable companies they have helped through their program.

Watch this video with Kevin Hale:

Watch this video with Kevin Hale

"99% of time I look at people's websites [...] and there is no sentence [...] that let me understand what it is this company does."

-Kevin Hale, Partner at Y Combinator

The 7 questions are:

  1. What is this? 
    What does this business do?  
    Can your mom understand it?

  2. Is it right for me?
    Will it work for me?

  3. Is it legit?  
    Is the design decent?

  4. Who else is using it?
    Do they have clients?

  5. How much is it? 
    If it's free, what's the catch?

  6. Where can I get help?  
    Is there a human behind this?

  7. What is the call to action?
    What is the next step if I am interested?

The Futur: Branding Basics

The Futur has a very popular Youtube channel with tons of information on design and branding.

In this video, they talk about how a brand should communicate.

Building trust.

  1. Ability.  Are they able to deliver?
  2. Benevolence.  Do they care about me?
  3. Integrity.  Have some values.
  4. Identity.  How does it looks?
  5. Communication.  How do you talk?

Other items you can add or fine-tune

  1. Add videos.
  2. Show your product.
  3. Show the number of clients you have helped.
  4. Show examples of results you have created for clients.
  5. Tell a story about your clients.
  6. Tell your own story.
  7. Show proof of your results.
  8. Talk about the status quo.
  9. Talk about your own goals as a business owner.
  10. Tell when the service can be delivered.
  11. Build a sense of urgency.
  12. Build a sense of exclusivity.

Improve your pitch over time

" [...] You’re also pitching to get feedback and some of your best insights will come from your critics."
Daniel Priestly
Author of Key Person of Influence

"After seeing thousands of pitches, [...] these are the 3 attributes find in every successful pitch"

"In every case, they are able to articulate their idea in 90 seconds or less"

-Kevin O'Leary

How about Thrive Themes websites?

I have personally looked at thousands of Thrive Themes websites, and very often, I am left unclear about what it's about.  I am not sure about what they do, how it could help me or someone else.  

Here's an example of a pitch where we have absolutely no idea what this business does:

We provide strategic coaching with seamlessly rich granular thinking.

Join Today

Jargon like this do not resonate with most people.  

How to improve your pitch?

Work on it.

The way to improve your pitching skills on it is by doing it.  In real life, we can pitch our ideas or our business to another human and see their reaction. Online, we can publish our ideas in a written or video form.  And we can ask people what they think of it.

The work you will practice, the more consistent you will get at it.

That applies if you have people giving your pitch.  The more they practice, the more consistent they will get.

Getting additional help

  1. Join an accelerator like KPI, Iconshift, YCombinator.
  2. Have a look at our own accelerator where you will be able to test and refine your pitch.
  3. Have a look at our blog post about finding your niche.
  4. Join our Facebook group and get better at pitching.

Leave a comment or ask a question.

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Denis Ethier

I help startups and established businesses communicate the value of what they do using design, copywriting and the latest tools.

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