Chris Sacca’s Gimlet Pitch from the StartUp Podcast

The first episode of Alex Blumberg’s StartUp podcast, How Not to Pitch a Billionaire, has Alex going out to LA to pitch the Gimlet podcast network to legendary Silicon Valley investor Chris Sacca, early investor in Twitter, Uber, Instagram and Kickstarter.

After bumbling through his pitch for what sounds like the first time ever, Alex gets schooled on what a good pitch sounds like. Sacca gives the pitch Alex should have given. I thought it sounded extremely dope, and no one else has a transcript so I made one:

Chris Sacca’s Gimlet Pitch from Episode 1 of StartUp

Hey look can I get 2 minutes from you?

So here’s the thing…

You probably know me, producer of this American Life, a successful radio show, top of the podcasts on iTunes, etc.

So here’s the thing, I realized there’s a hunger for this kind of content out there and there’s none of this shit it’s just a bunch of jerk-off podcasts, nothing’s out there. Advertisers are dying for it, users are dying for it, and if you look at the macro environment we’re seeing more and more podcast integrations into cars, people want this content, it’s a whole new button in the latest version of iOS.

So here’s the thing: nobody else can make this shit, I know how to make it better than anybody else in the world and so…I’ve already identified a few key areas where I know there’s hunger for the podcast, we’ve got the subject matter, we’re gonna launch this shit, I know there’s advertisers who want to get involved with it.

But here’s the unfair advantage I have: because of what I’ve done in my past careers with This American Life and with Planet Money, people are actually willing to just straight up pay for this stuff and I’m not talking about traditional subscriptions, I’m talking we did this t-shirt experiment at Planet Money where we got $600,000 to come in where people actually gave us money to buy a t-shirt with our logo on it as part of the content, it was integrated directly and I know we can replicate that across these other platforms, so here’s what we’re doing:

We’re putting together a million and a half dollars, that’s gonna buy us 3–4 guys who are gonna launch these 3 podcasts in the next 12 months. We think very easily we could get to 3–400,000 net subscribers across the whole thing.

With CPMs where they are in this market right now I know on advertising along we could break even but as we do more of this integration and we get people buying some of this product, doing some of these integrated episodes, I know that what we’re gonna have on our hands here is something that will ultimately scale to be a network of 12–15 podcasts.

The audience is there, they want it, nobody else can do it like we can, are you in?

That’s the end of the pitch. But let’s break it down a little so we can use it for our own purposes:

  1. “You probably know me from…” conveys authority instantly by associating the speaker with well-known brand names.
  2. “There’s a hunger” sets up the mark to feel like maybe he’s missing out on something.
  3. “Advertisers are dying for it” really quickly conveys the business model and sets it up in plain language so it doesn’t sound like he’s trying to hoodwink you with fancy numbers.
  4. “Nobody else can make this shit” tells the mark that he’s dealing with a pro here.
  5. “Unfair advantage” is all about saying what you know that nobody else knows, and how you’re uniquely situated to make best use of that
  6. “We’re putting together a million and a half dollars” is the ask, and it’s said like a foregone conclusion. There’s no pause after it because we’re launching right into what that money will get us and how it will turn into success.
  7. “Something that will ultimately scale” gets the mark thinking way past the sale into a future of success and so much return on his investment he won’t believe it.
  8. “The audience is there, they want it, nobody else can do it like we can, are you in?” the quick summary and close. Don’t dance around it and give options, just ask “are you in or are you out?”.

Listening to Sacca do this off the cuff with Alex’s pitch sounds like black magic. But make no mistake, he’s listened to thousands of pitches so this is something he’s an expert in.

If you’re looking to get better at getting your ideas across, you’d do well to listen to this episode a few times and practice saying the pitch. Once you get the basic structure down, you’ll be able to reuse it in your own work.