The DO’s and DON’Ts of Investor Email Etiquette
DO your research. Use tools like Angellist and Crunchbase to identify investors by stage and market. Read bios and click through portfolios.
DON’T cold email. Warm intros from portfolio CEOs are best, but if you are new to the startup landscape, search your personal network for industry, academic or peer connections. Intros from other investors work too, but make sure they are putting their money where their mouth is.
DO personalize your email. Explain why you think the investor is a good fit for your startup. Mention common interests, maybe you are alumni of the same university.
DON’T send mass emails. I wish I didn’t have to list this, but at least once a year I get a mass email that was obviously sent to hundreds of investors. Don’t be that asshole.
DO include information about your startup. At minimum include a brief paragraph about your team, product, market and traction to date. It’s better to attach a deck.
DON’T argue if the intro was declined. Perhaps there is a portfolio conflict or it’s just not a good fit. This is why it’s a good idea to do your research first.
DO propose specific dates & times for an initial phone call or meeting. We’re all busy people and we don’t need to exchange 4 emails to schedule something when 1 would suffice.
DON’T be rude to associates. Many associates are part of the investment team and they can be your biggest advocates. Plus, you’ll want them on your side because they will probably be making most of the reference calls.
DO keep track. Share a google spreadsheet with your co-founders and advisors. Monitor the progress of your raise, how many intros are converting to meetings, how many meetings are converting into commitments, etc.
DON’T be afraid to follow up. I like to include a column for last contact and next steps. If you were expecting feedback and didn’t receive any, it may be helpful to shoot over a friendly reminder email after a week or two. If after three weeks you haven’t heard anything, well, they are probably not interested.
DO update folks on your progress. Every raise has a “tipping” point, maybe it’s a commitment from a prominent investor or crossing the 50% mark. Investors can be uncomfortable taking funding risk and all it takes is a demonstration of momentum to give them confident that you are going to cross the finish line.