Five Most Common Mistakes Made When Pitching Your Startup Via Email

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Provided your startup has good unit economics, tech enabled and increasing market share, then you have a good chance of receiving an invite to meet a VC for coffee. These qualities also make it more likely to receive funding. However, making sure your deck is opened or shown to the right people in the first place can be a challenge. In most cases, a VC will forward your email to another VC whom they believe may be more interested in investing in your startup. Once you click send, the content of your email will be doing all the talking for you.

Below is a short list of the most common mistakes founders make when pitching their startup via email:

The Email Is Way Too Long

VCs won’t be able to read through every longwinded email or open every attachment. It’s not because they don’t care. It’s really due to a lack of time. The single most effective way to get your pitch deck noticed is by writing a short and concise email. The email doesn’t have to be compelling, the content just simply needs to make sense.

No Pitch Deck Attached

First, if you don’t have a pitch deck, then you shouldn’t even be emailing a VC. Secondly, if you forget to attach a pitch deck, then it’s not representative of you being a good operator. A pitch deck can be your first introduction to your potential investor. The email is supposed to get them to open your pitch deck. Your pitch deck is supposed to tell the story. I’d recommend attaching your pitch deck as well as linking your deck via DocSend in the body of the email. DocSend enables you to track and control real-time document analytics. You’ll be able to see everyone who opens it.

Missing Contact Info

How are you expecting the VC to invest in your amazing idea when he doesn’t even know your name? Always introduce yourself with your full name in the first sentence. One way to prevent yourself from forgetting to provide contact info is to automate your signature into your email. To set up a signature that will be automatically appended to any email you compose in Gmail, click the gear button and select “Settings” from the drop-down menu. Scroll down to the “Signature” section and select the option below “No signature” to turn the feature on. Make sure to list address, phone number and website. Also, include social media icons to showcase your web presence.

Asking VC to Sign Nondisclosure Agreement (NDA)

A majority of pitch decks contain confidential information and this is why the sensitive material should be shared through email communication with trusted individuals and not headlining your landing page. Depending on a VC’s deal flow, they could receive 10–20 decks in their inbox on a daily basis. Although there’s no official honor code, a seasoned VC has seen it all and most likely won’t disclose any trusted info. Focus more on what your goals are instead of worrying about what your competitors are doing.

Omit Essential Details

If you get to the point, no matter the brevity, you can always provide enlightening specifics. Make sure to list at least four such as:

- Success/Awards

- Revenue

- Fundraising to date

- Fundraising sought

Let the details be your call-to-action for the investor to open your pitch deck.

Always assume that your pitch deck will be seen by more than just one VC. With this in mind, you should always include as much detailed information as possible to ensure your startup is clearly understood even when you are not present to defend it.

Written by

Harry Alford is Co-Founder of humble ventures, a venture development firm accelerating tech startups in partnership with large organizations and investors.

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