This is How To Make Sure Your Cold Email to a VC Doesn't Get Overlooked
Updated: Oct 26, 2018
It's true that your first course of action in contacting an investor should be to find a warm introduction. Cold emails to VCs have a low success rate, but sometimes you have to do it. Two great articles you should read on how to cold-email VCs are this one from Founder Collective, and Allie Janoch's, How I Turned A Cold Email Into A $2.5M Seed Round. Even if you have the perfect cold email, did you realize that where you send your message/email is just as important as the content itself?
Where inbound emails to VCs go to die
...generally, when a VC firm doesn't publish any obvious contact information, it's code for, "get a warm intro please."
I was searching through my personal inbox the other day and I stumbled across several unread cold emails from founders seeking funding. I'm not sure how they found my personal email or why they sent their emails there since we publish email@example.com on our website as the best way to reach us. This prompted me to search my overloaded LinkedIn inbox as well, and sure enough, I have some stale cold startup pitches in there as well because I don't check my InMail very often. Perhaps founders contacted me through those channels because they were trying to follow conventional wisdom and "stand out from the crowd" but this is one area where you don't want to get creative.
How inbound emails are handled
Contacting VCs through LinkedIn, personal email addresses, or other social media channels actually lowers your chances of receiving a response and here's why.
Firms actually go through great lengths to try to manage and track potential portfolio companies using a combination of email rules and a CRM system of some type. VCs put these systems in place so they don't miss opportunities and drop any balls. You want those tools to work in your favor, so don't circumvent them.
Those systems are almost always tied into a VCs individual and public "contact us" emails. At Companyon, our public email is firstname.lastname@example.org. We have a Gmail rule set up to tag inbound messages to that email address with a label called "Streak CRM" that feeds our own deal pipeline in Streak, a free Gmail-based CRM system that we use. Streak then creates workflows to help us track inbound inquiries and remind us to evaluate and respond to inbound emails. Any inbound inquiries that bypass that system are at risk of being lost or forgotten.
Yes, embrace "email@example.com"
This is why you should approach a VC through their "front door" and not try to get creative or bypass the firm's or partners' published work email addresses when cold-emailing a VC. If you circumvent their CRM system, you're significantly increasing the odds that your emails will remain unread or get forgotten (although you may still get ignored).
What if a VC doesn't publish email addresses?
You can try a lead generation tool like Skrapp or hunter.io to find a VC email address, but generally, when a VC firm doesn't publish any obvious contact information, it's code for, "get a warm intro please."
Angel investors are a different story since most probably don't have dedicated CRM pipelines to manage startup inquiries. If you can find the email address of an Angel investor, use it. If not, you can try your luck with any other channel available to you.