Lights Camera Action! How Tech Startups Can Learn From Hollywood



Hollywood filmmakers have so many things in common with Tech Start-ups. They too sell concepts &  ideas; They too have the protracted nightmare of extended lead-times raising capital.  They too have to pitch all the time.

Pitching has been an intrinsic part of the film industry and its culture ever since the studios began churning out movies back in the early 20th Century, and is in the very DNA of every filmmaker.  Tech start-ups can learn so much from the film industry, especially  from their core pitching tool – “the logline”.

The log-line was originally used by the Film Studio script readers to summarise the essence of a script. This was written in a logbook for the busy studio executives to review at a later stage.  A logline is a 25 word summary of the movie and answers the question:

“What’s the movie about?”

This logline is so entrenched in the film industry as a marketing phenomenon. It is formally used to “sell” the script’s core ideas all the way along the economic food chain; from actors to agents,  to distributors and the media. It’s what you see on the back of the DVD – it’s what you see in the TV listings. It succinctly lets people make a snap decision as to whether they want to commit two hours to reading the full script or two hours to watch the movie. If the logline fails to excite, the script remains unread; the movie unseen.  The logline saves time – and time is a very precious commodity – nowhere more so than in the Tech Startup community.

Tech startups, like film scripts, have a reason for their existence – their core essence, if you like. Whether that be part of the shared economy with peer to peer ride sharing platform or the next fitness app to predict your internal health and well-being, it is this same core essence that determines whether an investor will want to invest, a partner will work with you or new member of staff will want to join your team.  This essence has to be sold- but in very succinct way. No-one has time for anything else.

So as a tech startup – ask yourself the question what is the “essence” of your start-up? What makes yours different from the multitude of startups out there? And why will your customers buy from you? Now summarise that in 25 words. It’s difficult, real difficult.

To summarise so much in so little takes time – a long time – but it is absolutely critical to be able to do so. People want to hear a simple, clear, engaging summary that answers the question:

“What’s your start-up idea?”

Investors don’t want to be bamboozled with technology and waffle. They want concise images that sizzle and shine – all in less than 30 seconds.

So summarise your startup succinctly and practice it over and again in front of the mirror until it becomes totally natural. Then rehearse it with everyone you meet. It may not get you the lead role in the next Hollywood Blockbuster – but it could be the most important 30 seconds that could transform your life.

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