Almost every startup out there says things like "we do x for y". For example "We're Twitter for Education", etc.
That seems to be too overused these days. Do VC's experience ad-blindness like syndrome when they hear such pitches or is it still an effective way of getting your point across?
The thing that really puts me off about such pitches is that you are not really saying what's unique about you and sort of devaluing what your building.
It's a starting point that quickly conveys your model and your market, and helps make an unfamiliar idea more familiar. It definitely shouldn't be your entire pitch. I'd disagree that it devalues what you're building; if you're making a comparison to a successful company you're in fact saying that you're working with a model known to work -- that's valuable.
Innovation and originality aren't the same thing. There are plenty of ideas that weren't original, but whose time had simply arrived because things had changed, at large or within a specific industry. VCs want to reduce risk.
I've written about this on Quora before: http://www.quora.com/Is-saying-a-company-or-idea-is-the-X-for-Y-a-good-or-bad-practice -- a couple of points from there I'd like to highlight are:
2) Make sure the connotations are the same, not just the model.
I'm sure Amazon wouldn't want to be known as the "Walmart for the web". If you tell others you're building "the Geek Squad for mobile phones", realize they might associate Geek Squad more with incompetence and untrustworthiness than an accessible, affordable repair service.
3) Make sure what you get from the comparison is the same as what others are getting from it.
What is "Yelp for real estate"? Is it property ratings? Realtor reviews? Real estate services directory?
You'll never be able to fully explain what you do with just one sentence. The idea with that one line should be to make someone understand in the quickest way possible what the overall concept it.
For that, the "x for y" really does work as it's the easiest way to give people a basic idea.
Uber for your chores
We allow you to get your tasks done with our army of local workers.
The former is quicker to get a grasp of IMO.