All these entrepreneurial issues resurfaced during the recent Fortune technology conference in Aspen. There was no shortage of either articulate entrepreneurs or provocative ideas. So as Osman Rashid, who co-founded Chegg.com, described his new digital textbook startup Kno during a coffee break, I peppered him with questions. His idea was undeniably clever, but aspects of his business model weren’t clear to me. He had his elevator pitch answers down pat, but I wanted to learn more.
Unprompted by me, Osman whipped out his smartphone and handed it over. I was watching a decent video clip illustrating his product’s features and functionality. I could tap to hear testimonials. I could tap to play with a simulation of the software. In a matter of moments, the device had transformed Osman from an entrepreneur I was having a conversation with to a guide and narrator of an interactive experience. My focus and attention alternated between what he said and what appeared onscreen. Sometimes he’d take, touch, and hand back the device; other times, I’d point to something onscreen and ask another question.
I looked around. No one else was interacting this way.
Elevator pitches are important. The ability to boil down the essence of your innovation into a tasty forty-second sound-bite remains essential. Only now, the pervasiveness, ubiquity, and visuality of mobile devices quantitatively and qualitatively changes the ecology of interpersonal interaction. It’s no longer about what you say and how you say it; it’s increasingly about what you hand over.
The reason this strikes me so strongly is last week, is I’ve found myself doing the same thing. And yes, I’ve done it with my Blackberry, but sometimes, size matters.
I think the iPad has really made a difference on my “elevator speech.” I was in the Amarillo airport waiting to board my flight home and as I visited with a colleague, something came up and I reached into the briefcase to show her what I meant. Next thing I knew, I was emailing her the link to a key site.
It happens frequently when I’m talking to someone about a topic that really interests me. I open up the browser and pull up a site that I’m familiar with to show what’s going on. I open the photo album and suddenly have 8 by 10s of a weekend work project, or a friend’s farm there in front of me. I have documents I’ve saved to the iPad and they get pulled out to make a given point. And yes, I have some videos saved to my iPad to show folks what I mean but pop on YouTube in a heartbeat too.
The discussion comes to life in a way it couldn’t before.
As I sit hear and think about what I’ve been able to accomplish, I wonder what all I could do if I spent a little time choosing some photos from my archives, etc. Guess I’ve got something else to put on my to do list…. creating a cotton folder…. a few cotton videos that I have on YouTube, photos from the field, facts & figures clearly explained, etc.