Now that I am a CEO of an Internet startup ( my email address is slowly spreading in the databases of app developers, PR people, recruiters, marketing consultants, SEO firms etc. Although not in the same quantities, I start getting the type of pitch emails that venture capitalists, journalists, bloggers must be getting.

Most of these emails actually get through spam and other gmail filters. In some way or another, the recipient will look at them. Especially now that mobile devices enable you to kill dead time with gracing through your email field.

The majority of these emails get totally ignored. First of all because of basic hygiene that has been discussed in thousands of blog posts before: generic subject line, generic "hello there" greetings, spelling mistakes in names, etc.

But there is a bigger thing that turns me of: the way they are written.

  • Too generic. The sender has not bothered to check out what my app does, what stage my company is in, what sort of services I might need. Instead, it could have been highly personal and relevant (what features my app lacks, which LinkedIn contacts we have in common, etc.)
  • Too complete. The email tries to do a full pitch of the company and its services. As a results things sound bland. You will never land a contract with a cold email. Better is to write something very short, but intriguing. Something that does not cover everything you want to offer me, but makes me hit reply to find out more.
  • Specific links to specific information are missing. A portfolio to look at, apps that you designed, not just the root of your web site.

A pitch to me good be. Hey Jan, we had a look at your app and you have set yourself quite a challenge by taking on PowerPoint. Your app requires a lot of client-side Java script, and that is our specialty. Have a look at [app], [app], and [app], examples of client work we did. We have a few ideas on how to improve your app, do you want to discuss?

When pitching investors you can do something similar. Hello VC. I read your blog post of last week in which you expressed interest in drones. We are the first company that has a solution for that issue. We can explain later in more detail, but the crux of the idea is that we combine [z] and [u] to do [d]. As you know, nobody has made that happen. Do you want to find out more?

Art: Hendrick Avercamp, on the ice, 1610

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