How to Sell Your Million-Dollar Idea

60 seconds. 5 million dollars. The stakes are high, your time is short, your idea is big. 



While crafting your elevator pitch may seem daunting, the premise is simple; sell your idea as quickly and compellingly as possible. It’s a lesson with its own rewards, one that informs much more than your 60-second pitch video. Finalists in the live pitching event should take note because, in the end, it’s all about selling your million-dollar idea.

The concept of an elevator pitch is simple: You find yourself in an elevator with a venture capitalist. You have until that person gets off to explain your idea. It is just the two of you and for the one-minute ride you have the investor’s undivided attention. How do you make an impression?

To help you sell your concept, we’ve gathered these top tips to making a successful elevator pitch. The advice comes from Tim Rowe, a judge at an annual elevator pitch competition at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). After listening to hundreds of students compete, he told This American Life that, from the judge’s perspective, he found three elements key to a successful elevator pitch. 


  1. Prove you’re up to the task

    A good pitch lets judges know that you have the expertise, experience and contacts to take a strong business plan and turn it into a successful business. We want to know we can trust you. We don’t want PR spin. Remember your time is short. Do not waste it with superlatives. Tell us concisely and objectively why you and only you are capable of pulling off your million-dollar idea.

  2. Go for the gut

    A successful elevator pitch has an emotional pull. It tells a story. It makes a potential investor feel involved. Let us know what’s at stake. Give us a glimpse of the future. Tease us with the possibilities. Keep in mind, you need to support your vision with facts and research. Think of your idea like a house. A house needs to be well built and have a strong foundation; it also needs to be well decorated. Your idea, like a house, will be noticed if it has this human touch.  

  3. Make it matter.

    The most important part of every elevator pitch is the Why factor. Remember investors want more than just profit, they want to make a difference. In your elevator pitch, explain how your idea will change the world. We want to know why your idea matters. We want to see the long-term impact. Any idea can make money but few ideas can lead to real and significant changes. Perhaps you have a start-up idea that will change how the media sources its news. Or maybe your idea will revolutionise how our personal information is protected online. Or maybe you will enable rural farmers the opportunity to connect with global markets. Whatever your idea, make sure your pitch explains the Why.


The Big Pitch is a big opportunity. It’s a stage to share your million-dollar-idea and find the funds your startup needs to grow. Make sure you grab our attention by considering the above points in your elevator pitch. Help us see the potential in your idea. And don’t overthink it; remember, as Einstein says: "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."