Are Cold VC Submissions Worth it for Founders?Oct 30, 2023
What options are left for founders who want to get in touch with a great fit VC but have no intro path? Can a cold submission really lead to a first call?
You hear it all the time: investors prefer warm intros. Of course, plenty of founders are not well-networked enough in VC to find more than a handful of warm intros. What options are left for founders who want to get in touch with a great fit VC but have no intro path?
A common option is the dreaded website form submission. Having worked for a few VCs, I’ve had a lot of founders ask me if cold form submissions are ever actually reviewed, and if so, by who, how often, and what % ever see the light of day.
The bottom line is: if you’re submitting through a VCs website before making contact with someone on the team, you’re very unlikely to ever hear from them again.
Even the best intentioned investors struggle to comb through the hundreds of deals that land in their cold “inbox”. In my experience, only 1 or 2 deals out of every 10 will be in the ballpark of the firm’s thesis (stage and industry fit). And perhaps 1 in 100 will be compelling enough to take a first call.
The sheer volume of bad fit deals means the juice is rarely worth the squeeze for the investment team, so this pathway is more often than not a dead end.
So what should you do if you don’t have a warm intro and are deciding whether or not to submit through a form fill on their website? In my opinion, it’s only worth your time if you can make contact with someone on the team with a personalized, curated message about why it’s a good fit.
Whoever is managing the inbox is far more likely to see your deal if you make the effort to write a personal note about why they should look, short-circuiting an otherwise very annoying part of their job. If your message, expertise, and idea are compelling enough, they may go into the database just to pull your deal. After all, analysts and associates are trying to build their sourcing credibility, so if you’re able to position your company as a diamond in the rough, you’re playing into their ego (which, as a rule of thumb, is a great thing to do to align incentives).
Cold inbound monitoring falls to analysts and associates, so it’s their eye you need to catch. That said, if you find overlap in interest / expertise / fit with one of the partners, it doesn’t hurt to reach out to them as well to let them know you submitted - just make sure your email is punchy, has a catchy subject line, and gets to the point quickly in a compelling way (4-5 sentences max). And I’d let the partner know that you also plan to reach out to the analyst. Best case, the partner forwards your email to the analyst. Worst case, the partner doesn’t see or ignores your email and you’re no worse off.
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