"Cover letters" that introduce a pitch are often poorly written. Think about the latest spam email that you received from a head hunter offering to help you with recruiting staff for your startup. You open it (maybe the subject line was decent), and as soon as you started reading 3 words you knew what was going to come and deleted the message.

A cold email is a shot at someone who is looking for the earliest opportunity to shorten the email inbox with that satisfying "delete", "archive", "done". The skill is to postpone that moment.

  • If your email is a huuuuge amount of text, people don't read but eyeball and hit "delete" after spotting the usual "that's why you should invest" at the bottom after pagedowning the text. A lot of text in one block is scary.
  • How did you get to the person? "[x] gave me your name", is OK, but "[x] told me that you should be really interested in this" is better if that is what she did.
  • Line break, then a super short and to the point sentence what you are: "Startup raising series A, with x in sales, in the drone market, with [famous investor] as a Seed investor"
  • Line break, this is a critical moment where you can feel the finger going to the delete button. You need to present the hook. "Yes, everyone know that drones will be big, but there is something that is blocking progress and we fix that [name of thing you fix]" Or "our team consists of [famous person, famous person, famous person]
  • Then point to a short slide deck that you attached that explains your company. The objective of that slide deck is not to land the investment, but to create enough intrigue to initiate a phone call. (Confidential) product details and financials, long market backgrounds, detailed implementation plans, are all for a later stage of the dialogue.

In short, avoid delete button triggers: long paragraphs of text, buzzwords, lack of clarity of what it is you do, what you want, lack of clarity of how you got to the person, generic pitch deck that is not tailored to the email stage of the due diligence process.


Image by freezelight on Flickr