Return to site

How to Email Early Stage Investors

Originally posted on

As an early stage investor I want to help startups succeed. Whether or not YC invests in the company, I still want to offer any helpful advice or introductions that I can.

If you email me - or anyone, really - your job is to succinctly communicate your situation and how I can help.

My Perspective
Every day I receive hundreds of emails. Of those I probably need to read 250 and respond to 50. I reply to most of the 50 but I’m not always at my computer, ready to dig in and write a lengthy response. Short, concise emails average much faster response times.

A Framework You Can Use
Sentence One
Clearly explain what you do. Avoid any jargon or complex terms. Remember, I’m probably not using 100% of my brain when reading your email so optimize for that. I’m sorry if this sounds like I’m disrespecting your communication. That is not my intention. It’s just that I check my email all the time and I cannot guarantee that I won’t be distracted or that my mind won’t be focused on other things.

Sentence Two
Sell me on why I should be excited. A huge market, a launched product, solid growth, or notable, technical founders are all immediately appealing. Highlight and share only the best things. I am not interested in your resume, awards you might have won, or your personal story at this point.

Sentence Three
Ask for what you want. Being upfront about wanting advice, investment, or an introduction will help me provide more helpful feedback. Don’t ask for a phone call or a meeting. Let me escalate things. Your goal here should just be to get a conversation going.

Hey Michael,

My name is Tim and I’m building Twitch for cooking. I previously ran programming at the Food Network and my technical co-founder is a college friend. We’re working on our mvp and were wondering whether we should build out private messaging in addition to group chat or just group chat alone.


Common Mistakes
• Poorly communicating what you do.
• Writing too much. Walls of text result in slow/no replies.
• Spending a lot of time trying to get a warm intro. You’re better off just following these rules and emailing me directly.
• Spending time convincing me to help or complimenting me. I want to help already.
• Not using your email.
• Asking me for advice through LinkedIn/Twitter. I’ll just ask you to email me.