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After a few years of working in the television industry, particularly on the planet they call Hollywood, I was immersed in the “high concept pitch” language of the entertainment industry. The practice is meant to impart your idea to studio executives with nano-attention spans by equating the idea with another more familiar, popular and successful movie or TV show:

It’s Die-Hard on a Submarine
It’s Big Brother with Obese People
It’s Jaws in Space


One of my favorite movies, Robert Altman’s The Player, nails this culture perfectly (though many think the movie is a parody – the depictions are really spot-on). In one scene, a pair of writers start their pitch with “it’s Out of Africa meets Pretty Woman.”

Silicon Valley has also adopted the practice:

It’s MySpace for College Students
It’s Facebook for Professionals
It’s Google for Humming Songs

In fact, the practice has nearly replaced the standard elevator pitch for startups.

While I will cover the more serious and practical aspects of this technique in a future post, I wanted to showcase a site that takes this concept to an absurd extreme:

Go to the site “Wait what does your startup do” (with the equally appropriate URL): itsthisforthat.com – and start clicking as it produces a random “high concept pitch” for the typical high tech startup.

Written by CJ Cornell

CJ Cornell

Serial Entrepreneur. University Professor. Software Engineer. Media Executive. Venture Capitalist. Researcher. Marketer. Advisor. Mentor. Author and Speaker. Founded or co-founded nearly a dozen companies in software, digital media and television.

For the past few years I’ve been Co-Director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship and Professor of Digital Media & Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University, and the university’s first full time Entrepreneur-in-Residence. Currently Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at New York Institute of Technology and Managing Director at Propel Ventures LLC.


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