How Not To Pump Out Your Pitch


So I caught a BBC World Horizons science half-hour, Water The Liquid Life Saver. The journalist in charge writes an interesting blog on his baby.

Along with washing machines that use only a fraction of the normal water due to polymer beads, we learn of a wonderful foot/hand-pump innovation. Adam Shaw asked KickStart CEO Martin Fisher that most deceptively tricky of openers; ‘What do you do?’

What we do is design and sell very low cost human-powered irrigation pumps to very poor farmers in Africa and what this does is it allows them to use these pumps to irrigate their crops.

And as a result they can grow multiple crops and harvest them all year long and especially in the long dry season when the prices are high and there is no other food on the market.

Astonishing. I wept inside. Yet another example of a chief exec, founder and salesman-number-one being completely unable to articulate the marvel of their new machine. Even more galling in this case because the gizmo in question is truly amazing.

My angst was compounded further by the misfiring delivery of said pitch. Not only were the mere words misplaced, the speech itself was also wayward. A quick monotone is still monotone. 20 seconds of garbled impactless verbiage.

The trap is to forensically edit these 70 words.

But it is the entire premise that needs an overhaul. Not merely forms of words.

Even the first line of their website does better;

KickStart’s mission is to lift millions of people in Africa out of poverty, quickly, cost-effectively and sustainably.

Albeit still too marketeer.

Let’s take a simple lead from the reporter’s own writing;

KickStart estimates that farmers using irrigation during dry seasons increase their annual incomes by over US$1000. It’s why they’ve called their foot pump – The Money Maker.

That’s your framework right there.

What do you do? We raise African farmer’s income by over $1,000.

Wow! How…?!

By letting them grow and harvest in the long dry season.

With our new take on the humble foot and hand pump.

Which waters their land so well, they call it The Money Maker.

Something like that’s a good place to re-kickstart the pitch.


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