Approaching a VC by email

There was a good post on Techcrunch Europe earlier this week with practical tips for entrepreneurs on how to construct an email to a VC they don’t know.

Building on that advice, which was all solid (and worth reading), I would add that it is important to bear in mind that most VCs get a tonne of email and that means it is important to get your key messages across quickly.

I try really hard to get to all my mail in a timely manner, and mostly I do a good job of that, but in order to manage my days effectively I put emails in different priority buckets. If I didn’t do that I wouldn’t be able to respond quickly to my partners and portfolio companies – an obligation that must rank ahead of my duty to entrepreneurs I don’t know. The system I use to manage email is pretty structured and not everyone operates the same way, but most all VCs have a similar requirement to perform some sort of prioritisation.

That means it is important for entrepreneurs sending emails to VCs they don’t know, or don’t know well, to structure their message so that in the few seconds I’ve got to decide which priority bucket your email goes in I see something that makes me rank it highly. A good ranking can mean the difference between getting a reply in a day, a week, or longer, and occasionally much longer.

Good ways to catch my attention are:

– drop the name of a mutual friend in the subject or first couple of lines of the email

– link what you are doing to something I’ve written, done or said – again early in the email

– make a compelling 25-50 word pitch for your company in the first paragraph or two

– make it crystal clear that you are looking for money (or whatever it is you want)

I hope that helps

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