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Cold outreach done properly

Guest article by Eva Dobrzanska

In any given year, investors see 2,000+ pitches.

 

They look more closely at 400 to 600 pitch decks.

 

Eventually, they end up doing between 10-20 deals.

 

Personalising your cold outreach to investors specifically to your target keywords - and the words that the investors use themselves, across their Tweets, blog posts, articles, speeches, and LinkedIn posts is crucial. 

 

We live in a world of incessant information overload, where attention is currency, and thanks to the infinite social media scrolling effect, you roughly have only around 7 seconds to make your first impression.  

 

This applies to your cold outreach too.

 

Mark Cuban has revealed that he has invested more than $100 million in companies through cold outreach alone. Most famously, Tim Ellis, founder of Relativity Space, cold emailed him at the age of 23 asking to invest in his project. The Subject Line said, 'Space is sexy 3D Printing an entire Rocket', and Mark Cuban replied minutes later, with an investment offer five times bigger than what Ellis asked for. Today, Relativity Space is worth ~ $5.2b and is one of the most important names in SpaceTech. 

 

In a world where you only get one chance to make that powerful mark, a perfect first impression is paramount.

 

Personally I'm a huge fan of Cold Outreach for one simple reason: cold outreach, done properly, works.The methodology I share in my Fundraising Playbooks Course is nested at the intersection of a number of strategic playbooks: 

 

(1) build a relationship with the individual first,

(2) don't play all your cards at once, and 

(3) do the right research to avoid spraying & praying. 

 

I've seen these strategies used by professionals who landed investment with a16z, raised from the likes of Sequoia, True Ventures, and Lakestar, and in one of my Masterclasses, a Founder who cold emailed a VC with an email built on this methodology received a reply just 20 minutes after he hit 'send' and went into successful fundraising discussions. 

Cold outreach as a viable alternative to warm intros

 

Whilst a warm introduction to an investor can go a long way, I like the cold outreach approach as it presents an opportunity to build a more egalitarian access to capital. Using shipshape.vc has become an integral part of my cold outreach drafting, precisely because it allows you to access the exact words and phrases used by your target investors - and mirror it back to them in your outreach.

 

Looking at some popular shipshape.vc searches from last month, let’s take a look at how your first 7 seconds of a Cold Email could look like:

 

Fintech: “ Hi <Name>. I read your article on brand authenticity lessons learned from fintechs, and I’m seriously impressed with the insights. You mentioned merging of the UX and UI as comp advantage over traditional finance sector. What we do at X is precisely…”

 

Web 3.0: “Your tweet from a couple of weeks ago with the Views of the 2019 blog post is so on point. I’ve been seeing a similar in trend in…., which is why I decided to…. ”

 

AdTech: “One of my advisors recommended to check out your TechCrunch’s article on Big Data. I especially enjoyed your input about Products morphing into Platforms. I think just as the birth of smartphones enabled the eCommerce boom (Products), it’s the birth of Cloud that preceded the explosion of Platforms - the SaaS-ification of everything, I’d say ”

 

Life Sciences: “Congrats on your recent sale of X. I think it really goes to show how it takes a village to build a startup, especially in the life science sector that’s so often challenged with high R&D and Capex costs. According to our interviews conducted with X number of Biotechs, R&D can account for 25% or more of a biotech company's revenues - which is why we decided to build…”

 

CleanTech: “I watched your fireside chat where you talked about how you find good deals and I liked the distinction you made between CleanTech and GreenTech. I’ve also seen an opportunity lie between bridging the two - our prototype product at X can reconcile the challenge of …. faced in those sectors by …..”

 

In your drafts, how you reach out to an Associate will differ from an email sent to a fund Principal, or Partner. And also how you reach out cold to Angel Investors differs from how to reach VCs. There is a different playbook to reaching both of them. Angels typically invest in what they know (based on their past experience, background, skillset) and often syndicate a bunch of small cheques to spread the risk. Angels would see a potential early exit (within 5-7 years) as an incentive to invest as well.

 

VCs follow a specific investment thesis usually delimitated by geography, stage of growth, sector/vertical, revenue criteria, amongst other requirements. They prioritise long-term scalability potential behind your business as they seek outsized returns, typically Seed to Series A: 100x return, Series B to C: 10x return, and Pre-IPO: at least a 3x return.

 

We’ve laid out 24 actionable step-by-step strategies in the Fundraising Playbooks Course, and its methodology for building Cold Emails that actually get replies is one that can be used at any stage, Pre Seed, Seed, or Series A, as well as to any investor target type, be that Angel Investor, Family Office, VC, an Angel Syndicate or others. 

 

Most famously, a Founder who sent a Cold Email co-drafted together during one of the masterclasses as part of the Course received a reply just 20 minutes later after hitting ‘Send’ and went into successful investment discussions with that VC. That email has been drafted using the Fundraising Playbooks methodology, and the investor target was found using shipshape.vc alongside with the personalised ‘hook’ for the first 7 seconds that an investor scans through your email. 


We’re hosting the Masterclasses regularly to showcase this strategy and you can sign up for the next one here.

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