Tl;dr: You need to raise money and know you should have warm intros but you have no network. Now you need to reach out to investors cold. Your chances of getting a response are low, but you can improve them if you write your email properly. In this blog we go through the ins and outs of writing a cold email. I will share some examples that worked and will share a cold email template I have written for you (of course). I’m going to help you learn to think and make interactions more effective with any email you write. Let’s do it!
You have started your fundraise and now you need to open up your funnel by populating it with investors. But you need to access investors the right way.
You have read that you need to have warm introductions to investors (Read this!) and that makes total sense!
There is a catch though.
You literally don’t know anyone and you don’t have the time to build your network presently (Note: You HAVE to make the time, buddy).
So the last resort is cold outreach. Only, what’s the in and outs of spamming investors? I’m sure you would like a cold email template.
If that is the case, this blog is for you. I’ll tell you what to do, what not do and give you some examples that can work.
Be warned, your mileage from cold outreach is going to vary a lot.
I say this a lot, but fundable startups are fundable. If you don’t have enough to grab investors by email, this whole exercise is futile and you are better off investing time in getting traction and then doing fundraising later.
Does cold outreach work?
In short, it can. It is generally a waste of time.
Two examples on why you shouldn’t spam from fellow Quora Top Writers:
- Paul Cohen: “Your cold email will get a reply 0.5% of the time.”
Brett Fox: “I tried cold emailing when I was raising money, and I even got some meetings set up. I only had one meeting produce any results (2 additional meetings). Yes, by all means try it, but really go and exercise your network for warm introductions. Your success rate will be much, much greater.“
There are people who get meetings with investors through spam (That’s what it is) and even have been funded through the process.
It is just the exception, not the rule!
The three examples of successful funding through cold email are all from Mark Cuban
- My friend set up a company with him
- Aaron Levie raised from him for Box
- Datanyze (Acquired Zoominfo)
The people who generally get responses from cold emails (Excluding Mark, who seems to be an outlier):
- Reach out to non-super tier 1 investors: Dudes at a16z are far less likely to respond than an upstart VC firm trying to make waves (or espousing all this diversity stuff). VCs even have a hard time getting a meeting with a top tier VC (I know from experience)
- Put in time writing very specific emails: If your email is specific you will be more likely to get a response as it doesn’t feel like spam
- Have something to sell that comes across as impressive to elicit a response: You can state traction, how impressive your team is and the like and that catches the eye like magpies to shiny stuff
I’m going to admit to you that I have cold emailed investors in the past. I have a pretty large network, but I, of course, don’t know everyone. I was raising for a fintech company and wanted to get in touch with some corporate VCs. I had around 25 shared connections, but having reached out to my contacts, they either they didn’t respond fast enough, or said “I’m not best placed to make an intro. We met briefly at an event.” Pointless introductions are in fact almost worst than a cold approach in my opinion.
Linkedin is your friend
Linkedin is going to be key for your outreach. You are going to be able to learn about VCs including:
- Who works at the firm
- How many staff are there / how many juniors
- How many shared connections you have, including whom (for intros either on LI or via email)
- What the person is interested in (Volunteers at, what he posts)
But you can also use it to reach out to people.
When doing cold outreach I try Linkedin first and email second. Why?
LinkedIn can show you have shared connections, so there is some social proof. The InMail goes to their inbox and their Linkedin messages. If they use LinkedIn, there is a better chance of getting noticed. Now, I have no empirical data to back up what is better. I tend to use my judgment as to what the best approach is.
However, watch out as there are a lot of people that are not active on LI (Mainly senior people). In which case, find their email.
How do you tell if LI is a waste of time?:
- They have less than 500 connections
- Their profile is shabbily filled in (weak flag as some are lazy or too senior to care)
- Doesn’t look like they have done anything since 2010
- Their current role is not up to date, and you know their real position
If they don’t respond on LI, I email them a week later.
Note: Adding people and adding a note is my last ditch attempt (Never add without a note you numpty!).
What if you can’t get in touch with the partner you want?
If I know the Partner at a firm but I can’t seem to get to them, what I do is approach tangentially. There are two paths:
- Scout for a junior: Don’t look down on anyone below partner level. They are being paid to support partners and want to get promoted. Yes, only partners write checks, but you need and can work your way to them. If I don’t know a VC and want to know them generally, I make friends with a minion and see if they will then intro me up the chain over time (I play the long game). The downside of analysts is that they might not get your business (You prob suck at pitching though) as quickly as a partner. Don’t assume they are idiots. They may not have experience but they are smart.
- Try another partner: Funds are structured differently. The downside is that they may operate ‘finders keepers’ so the partner that ‘finds’ you may be the one you keep. Meaning you want John, but you reach out to Mary in the hope she responds and then intros you to John. Maybe not. Your best hope is the firm directs deals to subject experts. Otherwise, Mary may be your partner on the deal. You still get $, just not the board expert you were hoping for.
How to think about cold emails
You need to understand your prey to make cold emails work.
So let me intro you to investors:
- They are busy
- They get a lot of emails / pitch decks
- They invest in very few deals, talking 1-3 a year (mostly)
- They don’t care about you until they do
- They like warm intros as the founder prob has a great background so the deal is prob worth looking at
- They have no reason to trust anything you say
- Founders frequently lie to them and talk so much shite they have no reason to trust you
- They only want to know enough to filter your email
- They know a lot about startup and industries, but never the amount a founder does on a specific business
Now let’s introspect on you:
- You are not a big deal. You can’t even get an intro to them
- You are asking someone you have never met and spammed across the internet to give you millions of dollars. Read that again. It’s crazy when you think about it
- You are frequently lazy and didn’t even try getting an intro
- You are ‘too into your startup’. You know too much and want to say everything
- You rarely keep things simple and high level for the right stage
- Your deck is probably rubbish
- The earlier you are, the less traction you have. If your traction was amazing, investors would have found you already (I’m serious for 80% of cases)
- You know it is a numbers game and plan on hitting up every investor you can
- You have a startup to run so are prone to take short cuts, even if you know they may harm you
- You love your baby. Everyone else thinks it looks like the ginger baby from Homeland
- You are probably too early to be funded by anyone
That was pretty harsh, wasn’t it? Yeah, it was meant to be. I want you to take this cold email seriously.
Each cold email should take you a minimum of 5 minutes. It may take you hours. That is going to add up, so prioritize people!
Ok, I’m going to teach you a really important concept. It needs to become your mantra.
Escalation of commitment
I do not care about you now. The more I get to know and like you, I will care more. I will spend more time getting to know you, the more I like you.
The first interaction needs to grab attention and ‘leave em wanting more’.
The first meeting is the first date. The investor is learning the ropes of your business.
Every additional meeting is to then learn more and more.
If you can’t grab my attention in the first cold email, it’s over before it began.
Think of it this way. If you were an investor and you got 50 emails in a day, and you responded to one email, why would it be yours?
Yes, every other startup is your competition for investor time and money. Hopefully, you are understanding how all the details in your outreach are forming a picture for why you are the one in 50 to even get an email response.
Anatomy of a cold outreach email
There are three parts that you want to think about:
The content is what sells you. It is what gets someone (if they read your email) to respond to you.
There are things that you need to touch on in this email, these include:
- What you do / industry you are in
- That the market is large
- Your business model
- Traction is worthy of attention
- Ideally, the team are ballers (I know most of you are hoping to become the next big thing, which doesn’t help now)
You only need to say enough to get them to want to know more. I’m going to keep repeating that as it is important. You DO NOT have one shot to say everything in your email NOR in your pitch deck! I keep having to explain this to founders when I do decks at Perfect Pitch Deck.
The appearance and ease by which one can parse your email impacts your conversion rate. If your email is not approachable, no one will even read it.
You want to be as structured as possible in your email to make it easy to read. Bullet points, bolding in headers, some white space, t-shaped email structure, lack of paragraphs aid in this.
Don’t make your email an essay! No one wants to read it. Leave em wanting to know more! Shorter is read. Longer is not read.
Finally, illustrating to investors that you are reaching out to them specifically matters in passing the ‘why the feck did I get yet another email‘ filter.
You cover this by mentioning their name, firm, deals they have done, as well as random shite like you met at an event, you have a Shiba too, or your mothers go to the same church (whatever you can work with).
Those are the headlines. Now we are going to get into more detail.
What should be in an email?
Start with what you do
You get a normal sentence… maybe two, max! Less is more. Get the actual core across. If you aren’t sure how to write a short pitch summary, read this blog on how to make writing a startup description easy.
Your goal is for the investor to have a decent idea of what your startup does and the sector is so they can filter for interest. If you do healthcare and reach out to a SaaS investor, they can delete your dumb email fast.
Mention the problem you solve
Either in the second part of your description, or the next sentence (sentence!) explain who you solve a problem for and why it sucks for them. You want to explain this in terms of the problem a customer has and that an investor can understand (Don’t use jargon).
Why did you reach out to this investor specifically?
Investors know many founders spam every investor in hope naive hope of getting a response. Being very specific about each and every investor shows that you put in some time thinking about that investor and so will give you a shot.
The best things to mention are:
- VC name: Casually say, “I reached out to Accel because”
- Why this partner: Mention deals they have done and insinuate that means you are a fit. “You did some great deals in the SaaS space like Uber, which I really like”
Traction is what investors care about. If you don’t have any, this is going to be tough for you. You are going to have to have some to tell a story that intrigues them.
How much you are raising and stage
Investors want to know how much you are raising so they can again triage. Are you raising $500k, or $25m series-B? Tell them we are raising “$2-2.5m series-A”.
More detail in the deck
You have a line which says you have attached the pitch deck to learn more. Simple. I write “Kindly find pitch deck attached”.
What do you want?!?!?!?
Make it clear what the ask is. If you reach out to an investor they know you want money, right? Excuse the reference, but if you go to a strip club, the strippers are waiting for a dance. You just need to say the word ‘dance’.
Say how much you are raising and ask for the meeting to progress. Do not be shy. You are reaching out for a dance, I mean a transaction.
Next, we are going to talk about some of the details of what to do and what not to do.
How to structure an email (The basics)
Personalise the name
Your cold email will be more effective if you add anything that is unique to the recipient in an introductory sentence or ask them a question that you know is relevant to them.
Personalisation has been shown to increase response rates.
Personalise the subject header
Short and to the point is what you want to aim for. According to Campaign Monitor, 65 characters is the sweet spot for email subject lines.
Before your recipient can read your email, they need to open it. Choosing the right email subject line greatly affects the chances that your recipient opens your email. Write something like “RAISE: SaaS, 10% WoW on growth, CS Stanford grads, $500k raise”. It’s a bit better than writing “Startup name” which no one has heard of.
Add social proof
Who do you know on Linkedin? “Socially, we know 25 of the same folk on Linkedin”… though that begs the question why you didn’t get an intro?
Build trust with your recipient by using existing customers as evidence that your product works. Include a recent, measurable, positive result that your product has had on an existing customer. “We recently signed Sony, Facebook and Flexport as pilot customers.”
Use whatever you have!
Bullets are structured. I like them a lot. When you are making a series of points, you want to use bullets. I use them ALL the time.
- Problem: Getting carrots on demand for children is a pain
- Market size: $15b SAM, growing at 15% per year
- Team: 3 Stanford CS grads, Xooglers
Note the bold headers and the bullets.
No one wants to read long emails, and studies seem to back this as they have shown that the average person spends 10 seconds reading an email. Keep your cold email short to increase the chances that your recipient will read it in its entirety.
How do you know if an email is too long? Simply put, it should fit on, or be less than a viewable screen (i.e. no scrolling).
The probability of you getting a response from an investor, mathematically is: 1/ (Length of the message)
Why are you reaching out to them… specifically? I love you for your money is generally not endearing, despite what your ex-girlfriend from Russia says.
Typically you want them because:
- They do deals in your sector/stage
- They have done deals you like which are not competitive
- They have deep sector experience
- They were an operator
Say something like “I love your blog. I’ve learned so much about SaaS sales tactics. I would love to have you as our partner guiding us!”
Call to action
Always provide an action that the recipient can take in the last sentence of a cold email. Examples include: scheduling a phone call, visiting a website, replying to a question, or signing up for your service.
“Let me know if you are interested?” is a lame way to end an email. Better to be specific about the outcome.
- If we align with your mandate, I’m happy to schedule a call with you later this week?
- There are details in the deck (attached). I’m in SF next week. Are you free on Tuesday at 1245?
End with your name
“Hi John- My name is Alexander.” No shit Sherlock. You say that in closing. You do not need to say it up front. This is not something that pros do in any part of their life.
Tips on sending emails
Keep the message simple
If you have a complex business with a few lines, don’t share them all. You just need to say the absolute minimum to get their attention. You do not want them to be thinking “what exactly do these guys do? Sounds like a lot.”
Schedule your email delivery time
The time that you send your email will also affect your open rates. A study of email open rates () summarised that Tuesday & Thursday are the best days to send emails, with 10am & 8pm the best time of day.
Use bold text
You can use bold to make a point or to structure your information better. I prefer for structuring as founders typically bold stupid shite like “we have the best team”.
Use bold in structure (with bullets) like this:
- Traction: $200k MRR, 3% annual churn, 15% WoW growth
- Problem: Men are forgetful. Our SaaS platform is set and forget so cats get fed daily
- Market: 400m users in China at ARPA of $50 = $20b. Target portion is 18-25, which is 10% of TAM = $2b
Unless you are only reaching out to Indian investors, don’t use Rupees. No one can convert that to USD. Use USD unless you are German/French and EUR is fine (It’s only 10% different anyway). Indian investors understand Dollars too.
Plain text email
Don’t spend any time making a HTML email with images. Not only is your email less likely to get through the spam filter, but it will seem like a marketing email. Keep your email in plain text and simple. The most complex thing should be a hyperlink.
Always attach your pitch deck
If an investor is interested you want them to be able to utilize that interest immediately to learn more about you. Meaning, attach your deck in case they will read it!
If you are worried about an investor sharing your deck, don’t reach out to them in the first place.
You have two options:
- PDF attachment: This is my preference. It’s the easiest for investors
- Link: You can use something like DocSend. Means you can get analytics and see if an investor reads, but it is a bit annoying and restrictive tbh. Mark Suster wrote a blog backing up my point to not use a tracking link
Do not ask investors to sign an NDA!
Sentences are better than paragraphs
Never make an email look like a wall of text. I get emails from clients offering to pay me $5k and I literally ignore their emails as I honestly can’t be fecked to read them. I’m not joking.
Look at how I write my blogs. There are more sentences than there should be because I make it easier to parse (hopefully!). I really try not to use paragraphs. Key to this is one idea per line.
Part of this is also using bullet point as I have mentioned before. You want to make an email ‘appear’ easy to read by how you structure with white space. I think about this every time I send an email.
I don’t fricking trust you! I honestly don’t give a shite about your ‘mission’.
Use numbers and be specific (with few words). If you have positive metrics, show them. I’ll find out if you are lying, but I LOVE data. It feels like you are real and data-driven.
What not to do
Don’t use a Gmail address
You are raising money for your company. If you are sending from a Gmail account it immediately flags you are super early stage and may not even have bought a domain name. Impressions matter and this is a really easy one for you to deal with.
Never write an essay
NO ONE wants to read your essay. Investors have little time and a lot of emails to conquer. Less is far more. You want to escalate commitment with a little detail, so you get the chance to share more information.
Never mail merge / bulk process outreach
There are not 20 million investors to spam. Investors will notice immediately if you are ‘saving time’ by spamming investors in a batch. It’s just too risky.
Spend time curating each and every outreach email you do.
Never write ‘Hey,’
‘hey,’ or ‘Hello,’ without their name screams a lack of attention to detail and mass spam. Use their first name.
I get a lot of people doing this to me for non-investment reasons and I immediately think the founders are lazy and not taking reaching out to me seriously. You’re emailing me at alexanderjarvis.com. What the frick do you think my name is, dude?
For the love of god… spell their name!
People care about their name. Dale Carnegie wrote:
“Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language…Using a person’s name is crucial, especially when meeting those we don’t see very often. Respect and acceptance stem from simple acts such as remembering a person’s name and using it whenever appropriate….We can make people feel extremely valued and important by remembering their name.”
Aaaand you are going to spell their name wrong? Yes, people do this.
If you get this wrong you proved you did not give a shite. Most will delete your email straight away.
Never ask for coffee
Everyone hates being asked for coffee. Mike Butcher (Editor at TC) wrote on FB last week that “The world would be a better place if founders stopped asking me for a fucking coffee and just got to the point!” (I wrote that, but 95% close)
Never ask to:
- Tap their brain
- Grab a coffee
- Chat about my idea
Don’t supplicate yourself
Don’t write any salutation with a title such as Mr. ‘Mr. Alex’, ‘Mr. Jarvis’. Don’t do it. You want to come across at their level. Furthermore, remove any content that is self-deprecating. You want a healthy dose of confidence (but no arrogance).
The only exception might be in say Germany or Switzerland if you are emailing anal people (likely in healthcare sector) who have doctorates. Some of these people expect the ‘Dr. John’ thing. You probably know if you should or not already. Just don’t use titles otherwise.
Also, my guess is it’s ok in India since I get a lot of Indians emailing me like that. I actually don’t know though. If you’re Indian, tell me in the comments so I’m not ignorant and I will update the blog.
Actually, do the same if you are German etc. Interested to know!
Don’t use jargon
This email needs to be easy to read. Things like MRR are OK for a SaaS investor… but there are angels who don’t know what MRR means. I’m not kidding. I had an investor ask me to write a blog to clear up MRR, booking, billings etc.
Don’t say you are an AI, Blockchain platform that leverages AR… I actually had a founder email me with some BS like this and they did none of it. They were a food delivery company.
MMC released research that 40% of AI startups that pitched them did nothing with AI. You are only fooling yourself.
Write a lame ass subject header
My friend Patrick at Toba Capital mentioned this one, which is hilarious actually and didn’t think to add: Lengthy/cheesy/silly title (example: “Is Toba Capital ready to help us change the world???”).
Don’t be that chick.
Know how to spell and use grammar, good
You just lose credibility. Do I really need to explain this?
I’m dyslexic, but how many errors are you going to find in any of my long-ass blogs? No excuses. Show you care and have attention to detail.
Who am I kidding, there are some…
Never use CAPS in business communication.
You will see I occasionally do it in these blogs. It’s to make a point though and usually max 3 words. You will frankly scare investors if you do.
My final do not here is not to be a freak.
If you do not get a response after 1-2 weeks. Follow up in a logical manner, with ideally an update on the business (“We have closed 50% of the round“). You can then send an email 2 weeks later (with another positive update on the round) to see if you can hook them again.
If you email every day for 5 weeks with “Why didn’t you respond, you are rude” or some lame ass shite like that you are never getting a dime from them. Ever.
Founders in startup land have somehow developed this entitlement mentality that is nauseating. It will get you nowhere.
Now I’m going to show you some examples.
Example of a founder trying and failing… then succeeding
Allie Janloch, Founder of Mapistry wrote on Medium the following example of a cold outreach after briefly meeting an investor at an event. She shares some of her learnings.
On the plus side, I made the email somewhat personal and mentioned something that he had talked about during the event. But a lot is missing. I didn’t explain what Mapistry does, I alluded to it, but didn’t provide a clear explanation. In the second paragraph, I was pretty self-deprecating, which looking back at, I hate. I didn’t brag about our progress; I mentioned our MRR but essentially said “our traction is pretty lame, and I’m sure you wouldn’t want to talk to me now,” which might be true, but why did I say it? Finally, my ask is awful. “Can I reach out to you in a few months…” That isn’t an actionable ask. Plus, I didn’t follow up in a few months! Overall the email comes off as unconfident and vague.
Two years later, I was ready to make a real pitch. I had worked on my confidence, my social anxiety, and Mapistry had made a ton of progress. But I still didn’t have anyone to make that warm introduction to Jason, whom I really wanted Jason to invest in Mapistry.
I started by putting together a template email that I used whenever I was emailing an investor cold. I shared this template with lots of mentors and got feedback. This was not a quick email I threw together. I spent hours and hours honing the template.
Next, for each investor I emailed, whether it was an intro or cold, I modified the template to personalize it for them. For Jason, who was my number one choice for an investor, I spent a couple of hours researching and putting together the later part of the email. Here is the final product:
If you want to learn from her learnings, you can check out her blog here.
Jason lemkin, the recipient said:
It does a good job of summarizing the opportunity, early customers and traction, growth profile, and market size. Perhaps just as importantly, it is truly personalized.
Also for me at least, it’s low drama. “Do you have any time the week after next?” The confident and relatively data-rich but low drama emails work best. Knowing there’s a little time makes it much less risky to meet a founder you’ve barely met before and dig in.
Example of an immediate response
This investor, Ted Serbinski says in a blog that “I get a lot of email. I mean a lot. Close to 100,000 emails last year” (Which sounds BS if it pertains to startups).
He shares an example of a cold email that he liked:
I responded immediately to this email. And I’ve traded a handful of emails with Nate. I’ve reposted this email with permission of the author to share with others.
I hope you are having a fantastic day! My name is Nate, and I’m a co-founder at XS. I am reaching out because you backed Miso Media, which I love, and I wanted to get your advice about our new company since we have just opened our seed round. To thank you for your time, if you’re interested in surfing and you find yourself back in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’d love to give you a lesson, or more traditionally, buy you a cup of coffee.
I know your time is really valuable so in the spirit of the 30 second pitch here is an overview of XS.
XS is creating a mobile community for action sports enthusiasts. Our app is a place where people can view and share high quality user generated & professional photos/videos. As we grow, we’ll leverage user behavior and information to sell discounted sporting goods. Think Instagram/Pinterest meets Fab for sports.
Thanks for your time and I look forward to meeting you in the near future! Best,
Nate Mihalovich Co-founder, XS www.xsapp.co
How one founder did it
Brett Fox is a fellow Quora writer. These are his thoughts:
I can show the cold email pitch I used to get meetings with VCs. It had about a 20% success rate.
There are three steps that allowed us to have success with cold emails. Here are the steps:
Step 1: The first thing I would do was make sure I was targeting people who were investing in our product area.
It seems obvious. But you’ve got no chance if you target a random group of VCs.
So do your homework and make sure the firm is investing in your business area, and you identify the partner that actually does investments in your business area.
Step 2: Make your subject line to the point.
In our case, we were making Analog ICs. So my subject line was: Analog IC investment opportunity.
That’s it. You can’t trick people into opening your email. They’re either interested or not.
Step 3: Make your message short.
Introduce yourself and tell them what you’re doing. A key point is don’t try and sell the deal in the email.
You want to provide enough information to let them know what you’re about, but not so much that you’re trying to pitch in an email.. The goal is to get a meeting or a phone call.
So, I did something like this:
My name is Brett Fox. I am the CEO of Touchstone Semiconductor.
Touchstone is a high-performance Analog IC company (think Linear and Maxim) that achieves profitability with minimal funding.
The founding team, including the design team, are alumni of Maxim. The designers average over 20 years of experience.
We have a term sheet from a very good VC on Sand Hill Road, and we are looking for an additional investor. Please let me know how you would like to proceed.
You can follow the same process, and modify the email I developed for your business.
OK, me again. So his email is not great and doesn’t follow the best practice I taught you. But the bar for a response is binary- reply or no reply. Who cares about great?
The thing going for Brett is that he says he has a term sheet from a VC. That’s all a VC wants to hear!
Thoughts from a VC and a real example
, VC at Runa Capital shares his thoughts:
Attracting investment from a VC can feel like a daunting task, especially when reaching out for the first time. If you decide to send a cold email, its contents are extremely important, as it is the first impression that the VC will get of you and your startup.
For a high response rate, a cold email to a VC should include answers to 3 questions:
- why the startup has a good fit with the VC investment focus
- why the startup is exceptional – outstanding traction is the best proof
- what the founders plan to do – a short version of vision & opportunity
And of course, some call to small action would be a perfect ending to the email.
About a year ago I got an almost ideal cold email from a promising European startup – eventually, we decided not to invest in the company but were very close to a positive decision.
Date: Thursday, 15 February 2018 at 23:18
To: Konstantin Vinogradov < >
Subject: 22% MoM growth rate for a company trying to transform [TARGET INDUSTRY]
I hope you’re having a great week.
I know that Runa Capital has invested in [PORTFOLIO COMPANY], so I wanted to show you our early traction as a [CITY]-based startup.
My name is [NAME], and I’m a co-founder at [STARTUP] – a [essense of the business] with nice traction:
• From 0 to 2 mln unique visitors in 18 months;
• +$220k monthly revenue (broke even one year ago);
• CAC in Adwords is $6, and our LTV is $12, and our sales cycle is < 2 days;
• Nov 2016 to Nov 2017, [STARTUP]’s revenue has been growing at 22% MoM.
With so much detailed user data, we plan to get into [PLANS}. I’d love to tell you more.
Do you mind if I send you a short deck?
If you follow the instructions above, and make sure your cold email clearly answers those three questions, you are more likely to grab the VC’s attention and generate interest.
Me again. Ok this email is very traction driven. That’s great too as I mentioned. Again, sell what you have. If you have traction, sell that. If you have a term sheet, sell that. If you have an amazing team… you aren’t cold emailing…
My cold email template
Feck it fine. I’ll write something for you…
I’m going to do Jason Lemkin since I mentioned him. His Crunchbase profile is here: https://www.crunchbase.com/person/jason-lemkin. I’ll use this to get the data points.
Will make up some random startup.
Big fan of SaaStr. I learn a tonne! We’re both Top Writers on Quora. I’m looking for a lead, so it’s fab you were the lead in companies I admire like Mapistry and Automile.
I’m the CEO of Savemyass. We’re a subscription flower business for forgetful people that want better relationships. We do this by scheduling flowers. It’s a funny idea but it works!
- Traction: 15% WoW growth. $100k MRR. 5% negative MRR churn. ARPA is $120
- Metrics: 6x CAC/LTV (fully loaded). 27 day payback time. $7 CAC through partnerships
- Team: Ex- core product managers for Google Flowers
- Funding: Bootstrapped. Founders invested $300k
We’re at the point where we are scaling our sales team. I’m coachable and would love to have you as my Partner to help us apply best practice.
Raising $1m with $300k soft from angels so far. Looking for $500k from you which is your sweet spot according to your Storm site investment thesis.
Kindly find our deck attached.
I’m in Palo Alto in three weeks time on Tuesday and Wednesday (6/7 June). If of interest, I’d love to show you the product and take you through our business.
My thoughts on the cold email template
So this isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough, right? Let me share my thinking:
- Start with ego. People like to be liked, especially if you work hard. I mention SaaStr which is his blog/conference.
- I know Jason writes a lot on Quora. I’m a Top Writer so I say that to imply we have something in common.
- I mention he is a lead and I’m looking for one. I’m saying what I want.
- I mention Mapistry and Automile which are listed on CB as companies he led. I was lazy as I don’t have a clue about the companies, you should do a little more work 😉
- I intro myself as the CEO. I felt it was good to add context. I could have said “Savemyass is a subscription…”. It’s not a big deal
- There is a short elevator pitch which hopefully explains what the startup does.
- I wrote “It’s a funny idea but it works!” as being personable is something I do (or try).
- Now I have bullet points to mention what I think are the most impressive and relevant things about my startup.
- Traction is all investors really care about so I start with that
- I have metrics on a separate line. I know he is a SaaS investor so I want to feed him metrics that I know anyone care about
- Team is random BS. I made up that Google does flowers because people like to back Xooglers. Adding flowers makes it appear I know about flowers
- I mention we are bootstrapped and the team have put in $300k as investors love to see founders have real “skin in the game”
- Now I take a risk to play to his ego and emphasize I am coachable. We are at the point where we are scaling – investors like this as you are at an inflection point. Investors like coachable founders as they listen. What’s the point of smart money if you don’t listen!? The bit about applying best practice is an attempt to show I want to build my startup smartly.
- I now say what I am raising. This helps Jason triage if this deal is even something he would do. Storm doesn’t have an investment thesis (I’ve collated all the VC investment thesis’ I can find), but you can figure out what their investment sweet spot is with a bit of research, or looking at CB and seeing the size of check they typically do. You could say “I see you typically invest $600k looking at CB, so I presume we fit your mandate”. I’m saying things I know investors care about and showing I get how VC works. I’m raising $500k and know that is the sweet spot of his investment thesis.
- I mention the deck is attached. I’m stating the obvious, but this is important.
- Now I close out with an “ask” which is a meeting. I said three weeks as his calendar is unlikely to be booked out then. Yes, I am in a rush, but I don’t want to seem desperate. I checked CB to see where he is based so I know he is in Palo Alto. I mention that.
- I say I would love to take him through the product and the business. This is an excuse to meet. You can write whatever.
I wrote that quickly, but I think it’s good enough to get a response if he is interested in my traction. Or rather, enough to get him to open the pitch deck and learn more. I only want small commitments from him. If he doesn’t like the deck, I’m screwed anyway. If he says no I save time and I keep plugging away on more investors.
Get warm intros. Read the blog I mentioned on how to do that. It makes a big difference!
If you can’t then you can do the cold email thing. Remember to write for each specific investor to give you the post potential conversion. You are going to get a lot of nos and no responses, so play the volume game. Maybe 100 angels for each $500k.
Raising sucks. If you need to do it, do it properly.
If you want to learn about how to raise, book a call with me and I can teach you more.
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