VCs receive so many emails that it is frustrating to open an email and not see enough information to understand if this merits a phone call or meeting. It is VERY frustrating if the email I receive requires me to reply asking questions to get more information to made the decision if I should take a meeting or a phone call. The worst of all is if I receive an email with not enough info, I then email back asking what stage they are at with revs, expenses, past funding history and the current round and I can see they are holding back info and this is already pulling teeth…I save myself more time and just pass. That is time I can never get back and it’s frustrating.
For example, every day I receive emails from entrepreneurs or some kind of advisor saying “Hi Andrew, I have a great startup and we will be in Silicon Valley on the following dates. Can we buy you a cup of coffee and meet with you for 30 minutes?”
If they don’t know any better I should not be upset, but this is horrible! They have not told me what stage the company is at or maybe they send me a deck that is all vision for the future and I don’t know the basics to know if this is a possible fit with our fund strategy or not.
Keep in mind, I get more emails than I can open. Saying “no” to a meeting or conference call provides me with more time to open these emails. I also do a lot of pubic speaking at night, during the day, travel, helping existing portfolio companies, raising new capital for our next VC funds, etc. Like anyone else, I can keep myself busy.
So…it is greatly appreciated if the very first email I get contains enough information for me to quickly triage it and see if this merits a meeting or call. If the initial email is not good enough I generally ding it on the spot to save myself time. Not to mention decks that look like they were created using Windows 95.
I would like to ask entrepreneurs to email me with the name of the company in the subject heading. Say in 1 or 2 sentences what the company does. Then in bullet points list out the following:
· Monthly and annual historical revenues
· Monthly and annual expected revenues
· Monthly and annual historical and expected operating expenses
· Historical funding history. How much have you raised to date when, how much and list the names of any notable VCs and angels
· Help me understand what stage the company is at. Are you pre-seed idea stage with 45 slides of vision or is this already a real business?
· Where is the HQ located and where are employees and engineers located?
· How much are you raising and what stage are you at in this process?
· Key milestones of the business…a timeline history is always great
· I’d really like to know your cash runway, but that’s probably too rude for me to ask for when we have not even met yet
Founders that say they never share the deck via email and only show it in person? Forget that, because I will never take that meeting and don’t want to go back and forth via email. That’s a ding. Asking for an NDA? I’ll quietly set my email to send your emails directly to my deleted folder.
Unfortunately many entrepreneurs send me a deck with 45 slides and somewhere on slide 38 they mention their revenues or past funding history. Guess what? I never made it to slide 38 and gave it the gong before getting that far, because I came to the conclusion that this startup is not skilled at fundraising, which is a major survival skill for startups. Keep in mind I have over 1,000 unopened emails in my inbox to get to and it’s already late at night coming home after an event.
I personally like to get the key info in bullet points in the text of the email and a detailed investor deck with historical and pro forma financials. I take my job seriously and put in the work. No need to send me a 2-page teaser. Send me the info so I do not need to email back and forth pulling teeth. No one has the time. If the bullet points are good, I will read the deck with care. If there are no bullet points I will fly through the deck trying to locate the info of what I am asking for in my bullet points without even reading the vision which has no value to me absent knowing the stage of the deal.
Running out of cash is the number one cause of death. How you email or get introduced to a VC is very important.
I am taking the rest of the afternoon and evening off to work on my new book designed to help startups raise capital in the hope that the emails I get improved and we can all be more successful. Fundraising is how I have spent most of my professional career and my new book is all about that complex topic. In reality it can be rather simple. We are understandably just not born knowing all of this. One must learn.