Having been in venture capital for only a measly six months, it may be a stretch to say I know how to pitch a VC properly. However, I have seen enough email pitches to tell you how not to pitch a VC. Pay attention, aspiring entrepreneurs, because these happen a lot more often than you’d think:
- Don’t make your pitch email sound like a Nigerian scam email – Before you send an email, ask yourself: does this sound like a Nigerian scam email to someone who doesn’t know me? Does it start with “Dear Sir/Madam”, or have “GREAT BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY” in the subject line, or have anything that would make a rational human suspicious? Then chances are, you should re-write your pitch email.
- Don’t ask me to invest in things which have nothing to do with what a venture capitalist actually invests in. Oil? Gas? Real estate? Bonds? A movie? Listen people, VENTURE CAPITALISTS INVEST IN STARTUPS, not commodities, not real estate, not bonds, not Nigerian princes. (Before you laugh, in the past month, I have seriously gotten emails asking me to invest in all of the things I just mentioned)
- Don’t send me an email that is not remotely personalized. Are you sending the exact same email to multiple people? Then let me ask you a question: what makes you think I (or anyone) is going to care what you send if you don’t take the time to at least type out my name and say something semi-tailored to me? Answer: unless your life was featured in a movie starring Justin Timberlake as a paranoid, drugged-out version of the Napster founder, your chances are pretty slim.
- Don’t denigrate or blow off a junior VC team member (associate/analyst) just because they’re not a partner. Yes, the higher-ups make the final decision, but guess who drives a lot of the actual analysis/diligence on your company? Guess who has the ear of the too-busy-and-is-juggling-fifty-other-things-at-once general partners who you want to side in your favor? You wouldn’t insult your boss’s spouse, so don’t insinuate that the junior team members are beneath your concern.
- Don’t leave me unable to understand/explain your business concretely by the end of the email. I’m amazed at how often this happens. If I don’t have a concrete understanding of your business by the end of the email, to paraphrase an internet meme, “ur doin it rong”. Even if I were motivated to pass the idea on for investment, I wouldn’t be able to explain it in a compelling enough fashion to rally others to be supportive.
Paying attention, class?