How to Raise Money for Your Startup with (COLD) Email Outreach

Everyone you have spoken to and every article you have read has probably told you that in order to get a meeting with an investor you need to get an introduction. Well, I'm here to say that's just not true… well not 100% true. An intro is going to increase your odds tremendously, no doubt about it. What if you can’t get that intro though? What if you know for certain that Joe Schmo would be interested in what you are pitching and you can’t find anyone to introduce you? Being the entrepreneur you are, you keep digging around LinkedIn and networking until you're blue in the face. Now, what if I told you I have an easier way? One that's always been there, staring you in the face all along. Just email him?  It isn’t going to hurt, as long as your email isn’t… well..awful. Even if Joe doesn’t respond, you can still keep networking, hoping you’ll find someone to make that intro.

But how do you write a powerful email, something that grabs Joe's attention when he is catching his Uber?

Cold Email: What Not to Do?

Let’s start with how not to do it, and keep something in mind… as intelligent as you are, you are not the first person to discover cold outreach. Investors receive hundreds of emails and linkedin Connections every week from starry eyed founders thinking they will be changing the world. Maybe you actually are, and this is exciting, but at first glance, to Joe you are no different than message 535.

How to Not Get a Response

On the plus side, I made the email somewhat personal and overall kept it short. But short is not necessarily a good thing, so much is missing. I didn’t explain what my company does at all! Looking closer I was incredibly vague and vagueness to investors creates the assumption that you're trying to hide something. Even worse, and one of the biggest criticisms I have with founders is their belief that they need to keep everything in stealth mode, even going as far as requesting Joe to sign an NDA before knowing what the company does!  Lastly every message needs to end with a firm ask.  “I would love to connect when you're free?” That isn’t an actionable task. Overall the email comes off as unconfident and vague. Pathetic.

Cold Email V2.0: The Right Way

Now Lets go about this the right way. Take a step back, and ask yourself why Joe is such a great investment partner? Why do you feel so strongly about messaging him and introducing your company?  Maybe his firm has a sole focus on your industry? Could he be the founder of a similar company? Would he be able to provide unmeasurable strategic guidance to help you grow your business? All super strong reasons to get excited to contact him, and let's make sure to play on that in the email.

I’m going to break down the structure of this email and why it worked:

  • My first paragraph not only clearly explains who I am, but what I'm offering, and the problems I am solving. Remember that Joe is an industry expert, and will know that this is in fact a HUGE problem and will instantly be curious how you will be going about solving  this problem.
  • Next, I hit Joe with some numbers and milestones. We want these to jump out to Joe, and smack him right in the face.  Many readers simply skim messages, and a bulleted list is a perfect way to get Joe to notice our traction. After reading this list, Joe can see that you are in fact post revenue, that you have a strong client list (and Growing) and that you have clear plans on the road ahead.
  • Next, I make it personal. This is crucial! This is how the investor knows that they aren’t getting hit with an email sent to a database of investors. People love to talk about themselves, it's human nature, they want to feel special. We make it clear that we know that Joe is an expert and that we would be honored to speak with him. He can also see that we mean business, and are actively raising  $1M in funding.

Finally, I wrap it up with an ask for a 30-minute  video call, and supply him a PDF version of our pitch deck (For the love of all things holy…. Do not send a Powerpoint or word document!) this can often get distorted and make you look like a mess. Better play it safe with a PDF.

Final Takeaways:

  • The email is relatively short and concise (you're not creating a novel)
  • It highlights all the basics: what we do, what problem we solve, what our traction is, and why the investor would be personally interested.
  • It includes our deck, and does not request a silly NDA!

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