This post was an email I sent to my other six partners at ONEVC a few weeks ago. The topic of conversation was how we should react & respond to cold emails in the workplace. I struggled with this in the first two years of my career as a VC.
Here it is:
I’m writing this response because it is worth in the “venture training” side of the house.
1 — NO FOMO
Wake up as if you have already lost the next Google, Uber, etc. It will happen to VCs. Always operate with no FOMO. For more on this, look at “BVPs Anti-Portfolio,” and you’ll know that even a VC firm with >100 IPOs often makes mistakes. It will happen to us, and we should never operate out of fear.
2 — You don’t have to be responsive to everyone
I used to think that I had to respond to every message and be responsive to everyone that wanted to get in touch.
At one point, I was accepting every LinkedIn request with a “how can I help you?” response, to test this premise to the fullest extension.
This strategy generated 0 deals. I did create mental anxiety and wasted my time. I wasn’t able to help anyone nor help our companies or our firm, due to the lack of intention.
3 — Be careful with cold emails
Never say no to cold emails. Read and treat them with careful attention. One of our companies (Rappi) wrote a cold email to Sequoia for their Series A and got the deal done.
I am saying no to shitty cold emails. Generally, they will not output anything good.
A lot of good things can come out randomness and cold messages in early-stage VC. I have had plenty of terrible meetings to understand when to respond to a cold note.
4 — Be memorable and of service
Anytime we interact with someone we are carrying the weight of our brand corporate and personal. All interactions must be remarkable. Venture Capital is hard.
On average, our funnel converts at 0.6% rate, which means that for the 99.4% that we DO INTERACT we have to be incredible.
After all, we’re saying no to their dream of building a new company.
When in doubt, add more value than what you can capture.
5 — Every response has a cost
It is expensive to spend a lot of time interacting with people in which there is no intention to do business with. Save your time and the firms by ignoring messages. It won’t impact your reputation negatively. Replying but not being incredible, hurts you and ONEVC.
6 — We should only respond when there is **no FOMO** and a real intention of being resourceful.
Time management is crucial in early-stage venture.
Given how little research this founder did on ONEVC, it is clear that we are a part of a comprehensive blast. It is a waste of our time.
7 — Try it for yourself
I encourage you guys to respond to these emails and have some terrible meetings. It is proper training for the long-run. Meet some crappy founders, and you’ll see it for yourself.
8 — Trust your gut.
If you believe that this company is the next Google, by all means, respond to this email and interact with them.
Time and reputation are more important than capital.