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- It’s hard to get a venture capitalist’s attention in a cold email.
- But Arlan Hamilton, a VC who launched her own firm after being homeless and teaching herself skills on YouTube, said there’s a formula for writing an email that will get responses.
- The key, she wrote in a blog post, is to “make it personal, but get to the point.”
Venture capitalists turn down thousands of offers a year from prospective investors.
But every now and then, a cold email will get their attention and lead to a response.
Take it from Arlan Hamilton, a 38-year-old venture capitalist who built her own firm in 2015 from the ground up. The self-made VC spent countless hours watching videos about investing on YouTube and reading books about the business at Barnes and Noble before launching Backstage Capital, a firm that invests in women and minority entrepreneurs.
Today, Backstage Capital has invested in more than 100 startup founders, and recently launched a $36 million fund for black female founders, according to Time.
The formerly homeless Hamilton doesn’t fit the stereotype of a typical investor, and in 2016 she wrote a blog post about how other aspiring entrepreneurs can stand out in a VC’s inbox.
In the blog post, titled “This Is How Long Your Cold Call Intro Email to Me Should Be,” Hamilton said she gets between 50 and 100 emails a day, most of them from people seeking funding.
Hamilton gives an example of the ideal email that would get her attention: It’s two paragraphs long, contains a brief description of who the writer is and what makes them unique, explains what they want the email to accomplish, and provides details about why they’re writing to her in particular.
The key part, Hamilton said, is the brevity.
“What happens when they’re too long? I skip over parts, I scan, it loses its punch, I save for later, and have a hard time coming back to it,” Hamilton wrote.
Hamilton said learning how to write the perfect cold-intro email is a skill that takes practice: “I used to write absolute novels to people when I was first emailing strangers. I mean, just … the longest, life-story-telling emails ever,” she said.
But she eventually developed a rule that led to better results – write out whatever you want to say, and then “cut at least 50%” of it.
“Make it personal, but get to the point,” said. “Leave room for more later. Make it an exchange, and not an allegory.”