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Rogue Research

Whoever knows he is deep, strives for clarity; whoever would like to appear deep to the crowd, strives for obscurity.

– Nietzsche

I joined Rogue Research when they were nearing the com­pletion of the initial development of their product and were starting to look for people to market both the product and the company.[7] Prior to my joining the company, they were using this elevator pitch...

Rogue Research is revolutionizing the way in which large-scale, mission critical applications will be delivered and deployed. Cloud technology from Rogue Research is architected for order of magnitude improvements in cost and perform­ance characteristics. Much like workers in a beehive, a Rogue Cloud brings together up to several hundred thousand workers into a single, high-availability computing environment perfect for delivering mission-critical applications. When com­pared with current approaches, applications developed with Rogue technology are significantly more available (Cloud­based applications have no reason to ever go down), significantly more scalable (capable of growing from a handful of CPUs to hundreds of thousands of processing elements), are inexpensive to maintain (all members of a Cloud are always administered as a single system, no matter how large or complex), and require at least 90% less capital to acquire. Multiple Clouds may be clustered or spread geographically, and can be linked to existing computing facilities.

As soon as I joined the company and started talking to people and judging whether this version of the Rogue Research elevator pitch was effective, it quickly became clear that there were a number of problems with it.

First, this version of the Rogue Research elevator pitch was much too complex. All of those parenthetical statements made it hard to deliver, much less listen too. To a large degree, this version of the Rogue Research elevator pitch assumed the audience was going to read or listen carefully to what we had to say. That didn’t turn out to be a valid assumption. At that time we were raising money from angel investors and this elevator pitch generally just left them confused. They couldn’t figure out what it was that we did or made. They also couldn’t figure out what type of company we were; whether we were a hardware company or a software company.

As a result, they generally tuned us out quickly.

A second weakness of this version of the Rogue Research elevator pitch was that it focused on the technology and pretty much ignored the product and the customer. This wasn’t surprising, given that the company was founded and run by engineers. However, while engineers love to think and talk about technologies, at the end of the day Ordinary People buy products and solutions, not raw technologies.

Finally, the biggest problem with this version of the Rogue Research elevator pitch was that it did not highlight the credibility of the team. This was a problem for two reasons. First, what we were doing was cutting edge and risky. As a result, the credibility of the team was a major consideration. Second, one of the things we had a ton of was credibility. The heart of the team was made up of people who had built another succesful product and company. However, the initial version of the Rogue Research elevator pitch never mentioned that critical fact.

After coming on board and familiarizing myself with what we had to sell, I developed a new elevator pitch that went like this...

Rogue Research has developed a software product, called Cloud Creator, which enables businesses and other organiza­tions to simultaneously reduce the cost, and improve the relia­bility, of mission critical applications.

Cloud Creator enables large numbers of commodity comput­ers to join together and form a self-organizing, self-healing, and self-managing system called a Cloud. A Cloud is more survivable, more scalable, and more affordable than existing solutions like fault tolerant computers and application servers.

Rogue Research is led by _____, former co-founder and CEO of _____, which was acquired by in 2000 in a deal valued at more than $100 million.

This new version of the Rogue Research elevator pitch worked much better for a number of reasons.

First, it put the focus on the product, not the technology. We did this because venture capitalists are usually reluctant to finance, and customers are reluctant to take a risk on, raw technologies because they can take so long to develop.

Instead, they prefer products that are close to shipping.

Second, this version of the Rogue Research elevator pitch retained a fairly technical flavor. This was because we were in the process of recruiting business partners and were interested in attracting the attention of both investors and geeks. As a result, it was important that we maintained a technical edge to our pitch. However, this version of the elevator pitch did a bet­ter job of making clear both the features and the benefits of the product.

Third, this version of the Rogue Research elevator pitch was very concise. While we could expand it if necessary to fill time, this version of our elevator pitch got our most important points across while explicitly estab­lishing the credibility of the team.

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