An investor receives on average 10 unsolicited emails per day. Almost all of them are irrelevant, awkward, or plain bad. No wonder most VCs hate cold emails.
But what if we could teach founders how to email investors the right way?
We at OpenVC built this guide with both founders and VCs in mind.
By providing clear, transparent guidelines, we hope to improve the quality of cold emailing, and ultimately see more success for both sides of the table.
Table of Contents
1. The 3 Golden Rules before emailing an investor
1.1 Are you VC fundable?
VCs have precise requirements about the types of companies they fund: market size, scalability, capital efficiency, traction... Make sure you qualify before reaching out. Don't pitch a VC without this checklist.
1.2 Is there a thesis fit?
Being VC-fundable doesn't mean that you are fundable by all VC firms. Filter your VC list by investment thesis: geography (where your company is incorporated), verticals (SaaS, biotech, web3...), maturity (MVP, PMF, growth...), and check size.
1.3 Do you have positive signal?
VCs won't invest in completely unproven projects. You need to show 1 or more positive signals: strong traction, significant IP, lead secured for your funding round, an exited founder in your team... Having a prototype or a waitlist is usually not enough. If you're too early, consider accelerators or angels instead.
2. Write an email subject that gets your email opened
2.1 Three examples of awesome email subjects (and three awful ones)
2.2 Six rules to improve your email subject
- Keep the email subject under 60 characters. The subject must be readable in full from the notification of a mobile phone.
- Don't write "investment opportunity" or "investment idea" in the email subject. You're wasting precious space with zero-value wording.
- Include one piece of information that shows the VC a thesis fit. For a SaaS VC, "SaaS for supply chain". For a biotech VC "Scaling up gene therapies", etc.
- Include one piece of information that show the VC your project is great. It can be growth (40% MoM growth), signal (lead investor secured), the team (2x exited founder)...
- Include your funding stage. This reinforces the fact that your company may be a good fit for the investor. It also explicits the purpose of your email.
- Include your company name. Not critical, but convenient when searching old emails.
3. Write an email body that gets your pitch deck opened
3.1 Our template for a great email body (and 14 good examples)
See below our template for a killer cold email. We've also collected 14 examples of actual, real-life cold emails that were sent to VCs. You can check them out in this post.
3.2 Fifteen rules to boost your email body
4. Share a pitch deck that gets an investor reply
4.1 Example of a bad deck VS a good deck
4.2 Six rules to strengthen your pitch deck
- Get the basics right. A pitch deck is not a business plan. Your pitch deck should be in slides (landscape format) and in PDF.
- Keep it short. 12 slides is the maximum for a first contact. Don't go into details. Keep things high-level and focus on the key messages.
- Keep the file name clean e.g. "Tesla - Seed round", not "V6 - Pitch deck".
- Host your pitch deck online: Google Drive, DocSend, etc. That way, you can easily track metrics and update the file as needed.
- Use the following resources to build your pitch deck:
- Invest in your pitch deck. Once you have nailed the content, pay a professional designer to redo your deck. It may be frustrating, but it will 2x the amount of time a VC will spend on your pitch deck.
5. Nail the cold emailing process
- Send your email at the right time. Email VCs on weekdays and during working hours to maximize exposure.
- Send from a professional email address. Don't use a generic "gmail.com" or "icloud.com" email address.
- Secure plenty of time for cold emailing. It takes ~15 min to craft one customized email. If you're emailing 100 VCs, that's 16 hours of boring work. Secure a recurring time slot in your calendar and stick to it religiously.
Conclusion: If you do it, do it right
Fact: Warm intros are always better than cold emails.
An intro will guarantee you at least 5 minutes of attention - versus 2 seconds for a cold email.
Having said that, even well-connected founders eventually resort to cold emailing: one cannot just get a personal intro to hundreds of VC firms out there.
There's no shame in cold emailing VCs.
Just do it the right way 😊