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How to Cold Contact a Venture Capitalist

Every day I get many unsolicited emails asking for either my time or my checkbook.  Most of them make me feel like I’m on a mailing list, as they clearly are from folks whom have done little to no research on me or Foundry Group.  It’s not like I’m looking for entrepreneurs to do a lot of research on us and try to kiss my butt, rather it’s attractive when someone does their homework and understands why further conversation may be relevant.

So what should one do if cold contacting a VC?  I’ve always counseled entrepreneurs to try to personally connect to the VC.  Find a similarity in backgrounds, a common hobby, tell a good joke, etc.  Today, one such entrepreneur hit a home run in this respect and I’d like to share what he did correctly.

1. He acknowledged that he’s read Venture Deals and after reading an interview I did with the Berklee Music Business Journal, thought that I might make a good fit for his company that is loosely in the music ecosystem.

2. He didn’t just throw out the book and article, but referenced them.  Quote:

I read an interview you gave to the Berklee “Music Business Journal” in May in which you said,  ”I answer every email that says, “Dear Jason, I’m a former drummer and I’ve started this company.” Well, sad to say I’m only a piano player, however for one semester when I was at Michigan I had the key to the back door of Hill Auditorium, and used to sneak in in the middle of the night to play the concert grand on stage. (The security guard who caught me one night let me stay, so I must not have been completely terrible…?)

3. Then he went the extra mile and made a parody of our I’m a VC video.

It’s a must watch, especially the end, where he cons a family member to renact our shower scene.  (If you haven’t seen our video, it’s here).

4. After the attention-grabbing intro, he listed 5 bullet points of what he is working on including traction numbers.

5. Then he dove a bit more deeply into the market and then closed with letting me know that I’m the first guy he is contacting.

How on earth could I not take a meeting?  He’s got a good sense of humor, he’s clearly done his homework and he’s put some effort into the email.  I haven’t even had the call yet, but I’m looking forward to meeting him.

Yes, it’s a sample size of one, but he did a great job.

August 27th, 2012     Categories: Entrepreneurship, Venture Capital    
  • http://www.biggerpockets.com Joshua Dorkin

    Personalized and creative, what more would you want. Thanks for sharing, Jason!

  • http://freepository.com John Minnihan

    Clever, direct + honest.

    Also apparent from the video (assuming it’s his family): they’re all on-board. That’s a huge plus when jumping into a startup w/ a family.

  • http://twitter.com/andyidsinga andyidsinga

    Hi Jason – really straight fwd relationship building advice. + you guys are very approachable!

  • http://abdallahalhakim.tumblr.com/ Abdallah Al-Hakim

    I also find that many VCs are accessible through their blogs and social media outlets and it might be beneficial to nurture a relationship along these channels. This helps break the ice if you end meeting them at some event and more importantly the continued online relationship gives you a bit of an insight about their thoughts and investment strategy.

    • jasonmendelson

      Totally agree

  • http://www.facebook.com/richard.rodman.71 Richard Rodman

    This is some great advice. You would think people would do their homework on potential investors and put some effort into an email, but then again….