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Ask HN: Review our elevator pitch (Stormpulse)
33 points by wensing on Sept 10, 2009 | hide | past | web | favorite | 24 comments
This is based on the Marc Andreessen pitch dissected here: http://venturehacks.com/articles/elevator-pitch

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Briefly, Stormpulse is intuitive weather display. We tame complex weather data and visualize it in context. Other weather sites begin with maps and add weather data. We craft weather-centered presentations that foster understanding. And we're piloting the world's first human-consensus forecasting system. Check us out at: http://stormpulse.com.

We're building Stormpulse to reduce the costs of severe weather, which effects millions worldwide.

Our weather maps have regularly appeared on CNN and are displayed on 750+ websites, from media sites such as USA Today and ThomsonReuters to intranets at places like Boeing and the Mayo Clinic. Since August 2008, our site has been visited over 18 million times, with over 60% of those visits coming direct. Hundreds of thousands of those visits are from decision-makers at Fortune 100 companies in the energy, defense, and transportation industries.

Before Stormpulse, Brad and I wrote software that automated the presentation of rich catalog content for a distributor of over 400,000 products.

We're making money and are ready to fuel the growth of Stormpulse with funding from smart, qualified, passionate investors. We're starting to contact interested parties, and would love to show your group what we're building.




Stormpulse.com is intuitive weather display. We tame complex weather data and visualize it in context. Other weather sites begin with maps and add weather data. We craft weather-centered presentations that foster understanding. And we're piloting the world's first human-consensus forecasting system.

We're building Stormpulse to reduce the costs of severe weather, which affects millions worldwide.

Our weather maps have regularly appeared on CNN and are displayed on 750+ websites, from media sites such as USA Today and ThomsonReuters to intranets at places like Boeing and the Mayo Clinic. We've averaged over a million visits each month for the past one year. Hundreds of thousands of our visitors are decision-makers at Fortune 100 companies in the energy, defense, and transportation industries.

Before Stormpulse, we wrote software that automated the presentation of rich catalog content for a distributor of over 400,000 products.

We're making money and are ready to fuel the growth of Stormpulse with funding from smart, qualified and passionate investors. We're starting to contact interested parties, and would love to show you what we're building.


The problem with the each month aspect is that we have obviously had months that were extremely busy and others that were quite tame. Is that intellectually dishonest then, or not?


If you say it's an average, than either every month you had the exact same amount of visits, or (more likely) you didn't have the same amount of visits each month, and hopefully you had some growth. I don't see any lying in there.


Here's my rewrite.

Severe weather affects millions worldwide and costs companies billions of dollars. Accurate and actionable weather analysis is a key business requirement in energy, defense, transportation, and numerous other industries.

Stormpulse (http://stormpulse.com) displays complex weather data intuitively, so that our customers can make critical business decisions based on it. Our competitors start with maps and then sprinkle in weather. We craft weather-centered presentations that are understandable and actionable. We're piloting the world's first human-consensus forecasting system. Check us out at: http://stormpulse.com or see the 5 minute tour we prepared for you at http://stormpulse.com/hypothetical-landing-page.

Our weather presentations regularly appear on CNN and are displayed on 750+ websites, including media sites such as USA Today and ThomasReuters, and internal dashboards at places like Boeing and the Mayo Clinic. We've had 18 million visitors in the last year. Hundreds of thousands of those visits are from decision-makers at Fortune 100 companies who depend on Stormpulse to protect their operations, equipment, and staff.

Stormpulse has paying customers. We are ready to fuel our continued growth with funding from smart, qualified, passionate investors. We're starting to contact interested parties, and would love to show your group what we're building. You can review a presentation I personalized for $FOO_INVESTMENT_GROUP at http://stormpulse.com/hypothetical-landing-page or contact me to discuss ways we can help each other.

Regards,

Points of note

1) Landing pages for your investors are a low-cost, high-reward way to say "I am serious about talking to YOU, Bob, not spamming everyone I could find" and they transition people from passive reader of your email into being actively engaged with you. Plus, cough, trackable cough split testable cough. (Incidentally, if you had a landing page, you wouldn't be showing me AdSense ads featuring a very bright background and a cute little Asian kid with glasses, and another ad telling me how easy it is to get a green card. I suppose it could be worse -- you could be showing me Evony ads. Either way, cute little Asian kids with glasses sort of distract from the general theme of saving people from horrible death that I was going for.)

2) Repeat after me: Stormpulse saves lives and property. Stormpulse saves lives and property. Stormpulse saves lives and property. After you've mentioned that a few times, you can talk about weather visualization. This is not being crass, any more than it is crass for an airbag manufacturer to say "Our product directly saved the lives of 12,000 people last year". It is your reason for being. Do not be afraid to sell it.

3) I'm sure you and Brad are wonderful people and you likely did wonderful things at your previous jobs, but look, you've got the Fortune 100 eating out of the palm of your hand to protect their lives and property. That is the critically important qualification. Next to that, "We built a cool CMS once" sounds like "And by the way, my mother really loved the drawings I made when I was six".

P.S. If I wanted to show that I was not faceless corporate, I would start the letter with an arresting sentence like so:

Severe weather kills people and breaks things.

A sentence like that grabs the reader by the neck. Some people might say its a bit aggressive. By my lights, heck yes, it is aggressive. We make no bones about it, we are picking a fight, and we want you to be on the side of humanity against the death and destruction caused by severe weather.


A really helpful, valid and well thought out response. This sort of advice takes a pitch that might just work in the Burj Dubai elevator (818 m/2,684 ft - worlds tallest skyscraper) and that almost gets the point across if you're pitching to an investor who's looking for people with a background in cool CMS....into a deal maker.

@patio11 - I'm tempted to send you our elevator for analysis. Anyone interested in 'HN Elevator: Rate my pitch' ?


Patio11: you are the fucking MAN.


Excellent. Thank you.


Check out Dave McClure's advice on the pitch if you haven't already:

http://500hats.typepad.com/500blogs/2009/08/your-solution-is...


Dave hammers the 'tell me the problem' side. Does this pitch do that?

EDIT: patio's rewrite seems to nail the problem side pretty hard.


Two alternatives in 15 seconds.

Problem-oriented: Severe weather kills people and breaks things. Our customers entrust their lives and property to Stormpulse. Its us and humanity versus death and destruction. Join our side.

Solution-oriented: We made a really cool AJAX/Flash mashup which combines a bunch of publicly available weather data sources. We'd like more money to develop a bunch of awesome features we have in the pipeline. How about it?

They're equally true. They're by no means equally effective.


Thanks again from Matt and I for the feedback. You've made your point loudly and clearly, and we will most definitely tweak accordingly.


I've read all the comments, checked out the website, and I still don't have the slightest clue what "human-consensus forecasting system" means.


We began the program in 2007, halted it in 2008 (lots of traffic meant read-only), but will begin it again in 2010: http://stormpulse.wordpress.com/2007/08/19/human-consensus-h...


I agree with jakecarpenter, leave out the URL plug - interested parties can Google. I'd also drop the "Briefly," from the front end, it weakens the whole phrase. The actual length of the pitch speaks for its own brevity.


interested parties can Google.

Interested parties have better things to do with their time than fix the bugs you introduced into your own elevator pitch. Lack of a prominent call to action is a bug, not a feature.

Give them a link front and center. (I would personally link to a specially prepared landing page, not the front page. If they've demonstrated enough interest to click then they just might be interested in stepping through a brief guided tour.)


IMO, you ought to add regular weather to your site, too - people are more likely to see your data if they're visiting your site for information regularly already.


I think it is important that every business have a good impression of what they do, and what they do not do.

Weather.com is for knowing whether you should carry an umbrella when you go to the office tomorrow. Stormpulse is for knowing whether you will still have an office to go to. When serious professionals need to make critical decisions to protect lives and property, they trust us to give them the data they need in a form they can use.

Stormpulse: We Don't Even Have An Icon For "Partly Cloudy"


> I think it is important that every business have a good impression of what they do, and what they do not do.

If this is the case, they should ditch the banner ads. On my laptop, with a vertically maximized browser window I can see three ads (EyeQ, LifeLock, and a google text ad that promises to let me know a shocking secret about coffee), but I can't see the legend.

That seems like the model for a site that is trying to make money by having a large volume of visitors clicking ads, not the model for a site that wants serious, important people who have some reason to care about weather.


We are freemium--so if you care that much, you can pay.

We also get a large volume of traffic, so it doesn't make much sense not to monetize it.

By the way, the eyeQ ad is a direct sale to someone that cares a lot about severe weather. I agree it would be great if all three were severe-weather-related, but we're not there yet.


I like it, but saying "Check us out at www..." at the end of the first paragraph seems like a tacky segue. Maybe move it to the end of the 3rd paragraph?


Actually I've heard that it was good email etiquette to include a link in the first paragraph where applicable. It allows the reader evaluate the product/service on their own, then come back for the sales pitch.


I like it. Although I think you were going for "affects."


Yes, thank you.


Sp., "effects" -> "affects"




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