How to write (and not write) a cold reach-out to an investor

A.T. Gimbel, Partner at Atlanta Ventures, shares some tips and tricks for how to write a good cold outreach to an investor.

A.T. Gimbel
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December 21, 2020

Finding investors can be difficult, tips to help

As an entrepreneur, finding investors can be difficult. Few folks have such a powerful network that they can instantly get audiences with investors. Often, you have to reach out coldly and hope you get their attention. As someone who receives lots of cold emails/forms, some are extremely well done and others are done so poorly they do not warrant a response. I wanted to share some tips and tricks for how to write a good cold outreach. Remember, both your time and the investor’s time are valuable, so you want to be as efficient as possible.

Look at website vs. no research

The first place to start is to look at the investor’s website. Most will have websites, and be very clear on their investment criteria, deal size, industries, etc. You can also see their portfolio companies as examples of the types of companies they invest in or who is on their team. There could also be content in the form of blogs, tools, podcasts, etc. or events to attend that can show you more about how the firm thinks. This quick research will not only ensure you could be a good match, but will also give you important information to write about.

Write something personal vs. generic

In your outreach, it stands out if you write something specific based on the information you have learned on the website. Basics of even listing the investor’s name, why you match their investment criteria, referencing what they wrote about on a specific blog that relates to your business, etc. all make you as a founder more believable that you are willing to take the time to do your homework. You would be surprised at the number of generic inbound requests we get where the founders are clearly copying and pasting information with no personalization or effort to show why we are a good fit together.

Make an ask vs. unclear what you want

Some of the best written outreaches have specific asks. I am raising $500K to do XYZ, would you be interested in learning more. I saw your blog post on how to refine your value proposition; I would love your feedback on how to do XYZ in that context. I often read outreaches that it is still unclear what the entrepreneur is asking for. You would be surprised how with specific asks, you can at least have an investor respond to that ask in a helpful way or have a dialogue about the topic.

Be clear and focused vs. long winded or too short

There are all different styles of writing, so no one style is perfect. However, be very clear in your opening line or two about what you do and what your ask is. That very quickly helps someone reading make a determination if they can be helpful. You may have the best idea, but if all of it is buried in a novel, it could get overlooked. Conversely, writing just one sentence that says I have a consumer app and am looking for funding also does not cut it.

Find a connection for warm intro vs. cold

While cold outreach can work, nothing still beats a warm intro as a way to cut through the noise. With the power of LinkedIn, you can often find a shared connection that can create an intro for you and give you a much higher chance of getting through.

Scheduling time and not showing up (or moving multiple times)

Lastly, let’s say you were able to connect with your investor and schedule a time to speak. Life happens and things may need to reschedule. If it happens, just apologize, explain why, and you are fine. But when this happens multiple times, don’t expect the other person to believe you are prioritizing that relationship.

With a little bit of research and effort to craft a focused, personalized, and clear outreach I’m confident you can increase your chances of getting attention from investors!

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