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5 Secrets for Getting a VC to Respond to Your Email

3 min read

I get a lot of email. I mean a lot. Close to 100,000 emails last year.

And I try and read each and every email.

But it’s nearly impossible.

And responding to them all? Well, that is impossible. (side note: to learn why, read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People).

So which emails make the cut? Is there a secret for getting your email opened and a response?

Yes, in fact there is. And not just by me. The dozens of VCs I interviewed all agreed with what I’m about to share below.

So why am I sharing it? Simple. If more of my email came in this format, it would save me a significant amount of time, both reading and responding. I’d process more in less time. And founders, like yourself, would get quicker feedback, instead of the dreaded non-response.

Win. Win.

So, here they are, the 5 secrets for getting a VC to respond to your email.

1. Don’t misspell my name

Sounds simple, right? You’d be surprised at how many emails I get where my name is spelled wrong.

I triple check the names of new people I’m emailing to make sure I don’t type their name wrong. Misspelling a name is not only disrepectful, but it also shows a lack of attention to detail. It’s further magnified when you don’t know the person at the receiving end of the email.

My rule: If my name is spelled wrong, I delete your email.

2. Don’t be verbose

The longer your email, the less likely I’m to read it. And even less likely I’ll respond. Don’t send me something like this (and this is only the top half of the email from March!):

Or, in mathematical terms:

Probability of me responding to an email: 1/(word length of message)— Blake Commagere (@commagere) April 8, 2013
My rule: If your email requires scrolling to read, I’ll delete it.

3. Have a clear ask

Ever gotten an email where the sender goes on and on but it’s not clear what they are asking for? Or they bury the ask at the bottom of a super long email? Yeah, those are the worst.

My rule: If you don’t clearly ask, I’m not going to take the time to figure out what you want. Delete.

4. Do something first

These are my favorite. Emails where the sender took the time (or plans to) do something to create value. A funny video? Donation to a charity? Get creative. This guy below did and I took the meeting:

Ted, you are obviously a very busy guy.  But would you consider a $500 donation to your favorite charity for an hour of your time?

My rule: If you go out of your way for me, then I’ll go out of my way to respond to you.

5. Write with ethos, pathos, and logos

Lastly, you still need to convince me it’s worth responding to your email. And a cold email can be the hardest. So practice and write with these modes of persuasion to significantly increase your chance of a response.

My rule: If you take the time to craft a well thought out email, emotionally connecting me to a qualified and logical thought, I’ll take the time to respond.

Combining the 5 Secrets

As I went to publish this post, I received an email via AngelList. This email perfectly combined all 5 secrets and was one of the best cold emails I’ve received.

I responded immediately to this email. And I’ve traded a handful of emails with Nate. I’ve resposted this email with permission of the author to share with others.

Hi Ted,

I hope you are having a fantastic day! My name is Nate, and I’m a co-founder at XS. I am reaching out because you backed Miso Media, which I love, and I wanted to get your advice about our new company since we have just opened our seed round. To thank you for your time, if you’re interested in surfing and you find yourself back in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’d love to give you a lesson, or more traditionally, buy you a cup of coffee.

I know your time is really valuable so in the spirit of the 30 second pitch here is an overview of XS.

XS is creating a mobile community for action sports enthusiasts. Our app is a place where people can view and share high quality user generated & professional photos/videos. As we grow, we’ll leverage user behavior and information to sell discounted sporting goods. Think Instagram/Pinterest meets Fab for sports.

1. Pitch deck:
2. 3 min pitch video:

Thanks for your time and I look forward to meeting you in the near future! Best,
Nate Mihalovich Co-founder, XS

Do you have any favorite secrets for getting a VC to open your email? Or seen any great examples? Please share below in the comments for others.

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