A lot of people will tell you that the best way to pitch a VC to invest in your startup is getting a warm introduction. We disagree. The reason warm introductions seem to work better is because founders really suck at sending great cold emails to VCs.
However, when cold-emailing is done right, some spectacular results can be achieved. There are many success stories of founders getting investors through cold-emailing. Leading investors like Jason Lemkin will tell you that they will occasionally do deals that originate as cold e-mails. Box raised their first outside capital by cold e-mailing Mark Cuban. Brian Wong of Kiip raised his first round with Amex using a cold email technique. Finally, Mark Cuban again invested in Datanyze after he was approached by the founder via a cold-email. Note: Do not harass Mark Cuban before you polish up your cold-emailing art.
So here’s the secret sauce – keep it simple and avoid mistakes that ruin your first impression and credibility. At early-stage rounds, investors are looking to invest in the founders and not just the idea or company. So pay attention to details.
Common Error to Avoid At All Costs
1.Do not, we repeat, DO NOT begin your email with, ” Dear Sir/Madam”. At least make the effort of researching the gender of the person you’re emailing for their money. In the startup world, a slightly informal “Hi Mike” is also accepted.
2. Avoid long blocks of texty emails. Stick to one paragraph; two at the most. If you cannot pitch your idea and why it deserves someone’s attention/money in less than a couple paragraphs, then you have bigger problems to worry about than investors.
3. Avoid cheesy subject lines (ex: “This is the unicorn you’ve been waiting for, Lowercase Capital!”).
4. Do not take numbers and figures lightly. Use a lot of data to backup your pitch.
5. We can’t believe how common this is, but do not address the email to the wrong person, or worse, misspell their name. Also avoid any other misspellings in your email.
6. Do not forget to write with ethos, pathos and logos.
7. Do not forget to check and then double check if the VC invests in your industry to begin with.
8. Do not risk sounding like a crazy person by using exclamation marks, smileys, all-caps very liberally (ex: “I think this app will TOTALLY disrupt the gaming industry!!! 😀 :D”)
If you can successfully avoid some of these common mistakes you’ll be well on your way to getting some VCs to open and likely read your entire email.
Anatomy of a Great VC Cold Email
Title: Name of your company, or Name + details of the raise (“FancyMail — Series B — Raising $10M”).
One intro sentence: (“Hi, I’m XYZ”).
Two to three sentences describing the problem you’re solving and how you solve it. The more concise you are, the better. It demonstrates that you’re a clear communicator.
Three to eight bullet points highlighting your traction, how large your company is, how much you’ve raised, any other important particulars, etc. Use numbers whenever possible.
One brief closing sentence with a clear ask (“Please let me know if this interests you as an investment and I’d be happy to connect you at your convenience.”).
Deck attached to the email.
Boom! This shouldn’t take more than a couple paragraphs and can even be read easily on a smartphone while they’re on the go. This also shows the recipient that you respect their time, at the same time, pack a punch of juicy details worth looking further into.
Finally, adopt the right attitude. Jason Lemkin, Storm Ventures hits the nail on the head with this –
Don’t expect a follow-up or response. Don’t go nuts with 70 follow-up emails.
But if the email pitch is perfect, and it’s an early-stage firm, you may get a response.
But—no VC has time to “meet for coffee” or “talk about your idea.” The email pitch has to stand alone, and just be perfect.
Cold-emailing is an art and you have to keep working at it to get better. As a founder, being able to communicate and persuade strangers to take interest in you must be on top of your list of skills to develop. Cold-emailing goes a long way towards that. Also, using the right tools like, QuickMail.io, can help tremendously in scaling up and automating large extent of your email outreach efforts in order to reach more VCs.
Recommended Further Reading