How to Cold Email an Investor

For many founders, getting a warm introduction to an investor might not be possible if you lack the community connections. In those cases, you may have to reach out to investors directly via cold email — here’s how to maximize your chances of getting that meeting:

Research

What: Before reaching out, research the target investor thoroughly. Check whether they prefer online applications versus emails, their prior investments, their content (if any), and any other affinities that might exist between you such as shared education, community groups, or location. You should also find their direct email address, if it’s not publicly available, use a tool like RocketReach or Hunter.

Why: Inserting nuanced research in your email demonstrates to the investor you’re not going to waste their time. Email is more effective than social media channels, which tend to get clogged with spam and go unread by investors.

Subject Line

What: There are lots of options for the subject line and you should test at least 3 versions (not with the same investor!). The core components are: your company name, company one-liner, credentials, metrics, and a mention of fundraising or pitching. Include phrases like “Pitch Feedback Request”, “Growing 20% monthly”, “YC S21” or “Just Graduated TechStars” if you recently completed an accelerator like Y-Combinator.

Examples, using grocery delivery service Acmecart:

  • Acmecart — On-demand groceries — Pitch feedback request
  • YC S21 — Acmecart — Currently fundraising
  • Acmecart — Groceries on demand. Growing revenue 20% a month.

Why: If investors see your email, they will not give it more than a few seconds of attention. In just a few words, you need to show investors something compelling, to get them interested to learn more. At the beginning of the fundraising process ask for feedback, when you have momentum you can be more direct.

Opening

What: Begin with the investor’s first name then immediately highlight any affinities or overlapping investment sectors you found. Next, provide your company one-liner and ask for feedback.

For example:
“Hi Samantha,

I’m reaching out as I saw you invest in marketplaces and we’re both Dropbox alumni. My company, Acmecart, is an on-demand grocery service. We’re currently fundraising and I would love to get your feedback.”

Why: Telling the investor why you’re emailing and why they should care at the start of the email, is the best way to encourage them to keep reading.

Company Overview

What: Include more information about your company with a few sentences covering your team, traction, vision, and a short deck. I recommend using DocSend to share the deck link.

For example:
“Acmecart provides groceries on-demand. We’re live in 4 cities, generating $400k GMV, and growing 20% per month. Our team includes alumni of Amazon, Walmart, and Dropbox. We help stores offer 1 hour delivery to their customers. Here’s our deck with a little more info: [DocSend link].”

Why: Now that the investor is interested, they will want to know the most important information about your company, in order to decide if a meeting is worthwhile. Using software like DocSend for your deck allows you to track overall views, time spent on individual slides, and prevent broader sharing.

Schedule Request

What: Ask to schedule a meeting, offering 2 specific times as well as a link to a calendaring service, e.g. Calendly.

For example:
“I’d love to schedule a quick call to show you what we’re building. Would Thursday, March 9, at 2pm PT or Friday, March 10, at 10am PT work for you? Happy to work around your schedule or feel free to book here, if preferred: [calendar link]”

Why: Some investors react negatively to being given a calendar link, some investors love them. Cover both viewpoints by offering the investor a way to schedule on their own, or with you directly.

Closing

What: End with a polite closing, including your name, title, contact information, and any informative links.

For example:
“Look forward to chatting!

Dominique

Co-founder & CEO, Acmecart
Dominique@acmecart.com | 650–555–5555
Check out our reviews!”

Why: Show the investor they are communicating with a founder and thus a decision maker. The contact information helps them reach you in the future and the links allow them to quickly explore more.

Full Template

Put all the elements together and you will get:
Hi [Investor],

I am reaching out because [affinities]. My company, [company name], is [one-liner]. We’re currently fundraising and I would love to get your feedback.

More information on [company name]:
[company overview and deck link]

I’d love to schedule a quick call to show you what we’re building. Would [time A] or [time B] work for you? Happy to work around your schedule or feel free to book here, if preferred: [calendar link]

Look forward to chatting!

[Your name],
[email signature with your title, contact information, and links]

Example:
Hi Samantha,

I am reaching out because I saw you invest in marketplaces and we’re both Dropbox alumni. My company, Acmecart, provides on-demand grocery delivery. We’re currently fundraising and I would love to get your feedback.

More information on Acmecart:
We’re live in 4 cities, generating $400k GMV and growing 20% per month. Our team includes alumni of Amazon, Walmart, and Dropbox. We help stores offer 1 hour delivery to their customers. Here’s our deck with a little more info: [docsend link]

I’d love to schedule a quick call to show you what we’re building. Would Thursday, March 9, at 2pm PT or Friday, March 10, at 10am PT work for you? Happy to work around your schedule or feel free to book here, if preferred: [calendar link]

Looking forward to chatting!

Dominique

Co-founder & CEO, Acmecart
Dominique@acmecart.com | 650–555–5555
Check out our reviews!

Grinding out cold emails to generate fundraising meetings is time consuming and tough, but for most founders it is absolutely necessary. Use these tips and the template to maximize your chances of getting a response, a meeting, and hopefully the capital you need.

Thanks to Kaego Rust for their help with this article.

Sterling Road invests in pre-seed B2B startups based in the US, UK and Canada.
Full investment process. Contact: ash@sterlingroad.com

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Pre-seed Investor. Email: ash@sterlingroad.com. B2B, US only. I work with founders for 3 months before investing. More info: http://SterlingRoad.com/process

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Ash Rust

Ash Rust

Pre-seed Investor. Email: ash@sterlingroad.com. B2B, US only. I work with founders for 3 months before investing. More info: http://SterlingRoad.com/process

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