Is your company looking for funding? Are you thinking about emailing your company’s executive summary or business plan to venture capitalists? Stop and read this first. It might help you increase the chances of a favorable response.
Stating the obvious, venture capitalists receive a lot of email from entrepreneurs looking for funding and it arrives in several different ways. Some of the email looks like a form letter with the name of the recipient dropped in – most likely a mail merge blasted out to hundreds of individuals. Even worse is when an entrepreneur uses a large list of venture capitalists’ email addresses and sends them all the same email by using the bcc email function. This style of sending an email rarely engages a venture capitalist. How many emails have you responded to like that? Those who have tried this strategy will attest that response rates will be low.
If you are contacting venture capitalists and plan on sending out your executive summary or business plan by email, here are four suggestions to make sure your email stands out and receives the attention it deserves.
1. Get introductions to venture capitalists.
The chances of getting a venture capitalist’s attention in reviewing your business plan increases greatly if you know someone that can make an introduction for you. This will really make a difference. The business plans that arrive with a referral are often reviewed first and the response time to the entrepreneur is much faster. Even if you’re just starting out and you just hired an accountant and lawyer – ask them to put in a good word for you. Many of them work with local venture capitalists and some have venture capitalists and angel investors as clients.
This is the first opportunity to prove to venture capitalists that you have the ability to open doors. It is a key skill that venture capitalists specifically look for since your network is going to be increasingly important as you grow your business with customers and partners.
2. Thoroughly understand the criteria.
Before sending a venture capitalist your business plan, make sure you thoroughly understand their criteria and geographic preference – which is available on the firm’s Web site. As an example, if you are in Atlanta, avoid the mistake of sending a business plan to a firm in Silicon Valley when the firm clearly states on their Web site that they only invest only on the west coast.
3. Send individual emails.
If you choose to send your business plan by email, build specific emails and customize each one to the venture capitalist you are targeting. The bulk email strategy mentioned earlier may be deleted or caught by the venture capitalist’s spam filter. This is the opportunity to position your company in the most professional way.
Also, I would recommend against sending your business plan to every partner in the firm. Using your network, find the best contact within the firm and send it to that individual.
4. Be persistent and follow up.
If its been more than a month since you emailed the business plan and you haven’t heard back from a venture capitalist, send a brief email to make sure they received your plan and maybe attach a recent press release to show how your company continues to make progress.