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 awesome email subjects (and three awful ones)
2.2 Six rules to improve your email subject
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
- Avoid generic greetings, like "Hi there" or "Dear Sir/Madam". Use the first name of your recipient e.g. "Hi John". If you're emailing a generic address like [email protected], try something like "Hello SuperVC team".
- Don't call people Sir or Madam. In most cases, it's perfectly fine to go by first name. The only exceptions are with Dr titles (frequent in deeptech, biotech, medtech...) and in some specific geographies where social rules differ.
- Don't apologize for sending an email. No need for "I'm sorry to disturb you" or "I thank you in advance for reading this email". It's unnecessary. Just go straight to the point.
- Don't outsource VC outreach. Especially at early-stage, the email should come from the CEO and nobody else.
- Keep the email body under 1,000 characters. It's a universal rule: the longer the email, the less reply you get.
- Don't ask if you can send your pitch deck in the next email. Attach your pitch deck to begin with.
- Don't add legal mentions to your company name like legal structure (LLC, SAS…) or trademark (TM, C). You are the CEO of Tesla, not Tesla LLC or Tesla TM.
- Use simple words when describing what your company does. Don't say "we're a mobile technology platform that empowers travelers by allowing them to search for the best-rated cars with chauffeurs while securing the financial transaction". Instead, say "we're a mobile app that connects drivers and passengers in a safe and convenient way"
- Don't make vague statements like "the growth has been impressive" or "traction is encouraging". Instead, give numbers "MRR has grown 25% MoM over the past 12 months".
- Don't mention a 20x growth when you've just grown from 1 to 20 users. Investors won't be fooled and it's a sure way to lose your credibility.
- Never write long paragraphs. Write short paragraphs.
- Use bullet points. If you want to expand on 2-3 key points, bullet points are great because they allow the VC to quickly parse your email for them.
- Don't close with a meek CTA, like "I'd love to meet and exchange notes in the spirit of networking" or "We hope to peak your interest for the opportunity to pitch to your fund.". Instead, try a more confident "Looking forward to show you how XXX will change YYY".
- Keep your signature short. There's no need for a fax number and 5 social accounts.
- Don't stuff the email with links and images. They will distract the reader. There should be 1 link (your pitch deck) and zero images. Also, links and images trigger spam filters.
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
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 😊