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The power of an elevator pitch: Distilling your value

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Legend has it that it was elevator pioneer Elisha Otis himself that gave the first true "elevator pitch."

It was 1853, and while many buildings were already equipped with elevators at the time, they were considered dangerous, and only as stable as their weakest rope. Otis had a vision for a newer, safer way. But rather than try to sell his invention with complicated engineering-speak, he decided to demonstrate his ingenuity. At a convention center, in front of a crowd of dozens, Otis set up a display of an open elevator shaft, hoisted himself three stories up, and cut his supporting rope with an axe. At first the crowd gasped, but then breathed a sigh of relief. Otis's stopping mechanism brought his elevator to a safe halt before hitting the ground. In less than thirty seconds Elisha Otis showed the world the value of what he was selling.

An elevator pitch is a distillation of a company's value proposition. It's meant to explain what is unique about the service you offer fast enough to capture the attention of your next prospect. At this year's Denver iCONIC event, thousands of entrepreneurs gathered to test, hone and pitch their businesses to other likeminded entrepreneurs and potential investors.

"The purpose of an elevator pitch is just to get me interested in asking the next question," says Nicole Glaros, chief product officer of Techstars.

To learn more about how entrepreneurs are positioning themselves and pitching their businesses, watch the video above.

More entrepreneurial videos from iCONIC Denver are coming soon.

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