The venture capital industry is largely driven by networking. Sometimes success is determined by who you know and less on merit. Warm introductions can appear advantageous to an investor because they pattern match against previous winners they’ve backed and it comes from a reliable source within their network. However, warm introductions are not indicative of founder ability. Helping founders that I believe in who aren’t as entrenched within the Venture Capital network is one of the easiest things I can do. But it’s even more seamless with a forwardable email.
My career has always centered around inclusion. It’s often people of color, women, immigrants, and veterans locked out from the traditional capital structure. There are many reasons, but one reason is that investors tend to keep teaming up with those who share their traits. Unlocking your network to champion “outsiders” isn’t charity; it makes financial sense.
I regularly receive emails and messages, usually on LinkedIn, from non-networked founders who see that I’m connected to a Managing Director at a firm whose investment thesis aligns with their business model and stage. If I like the founder’s approach, what they’re building — maybe have a phone call with them — then I’d highly consider making the connection. Subsequently, I’ll usually ask the founder for a forwardable email.
A forwardable email is one of the best ways to make an introduction. Below is a modified version of the best forwardable email I’ve received in some time. You can interchange the [content] with details that specifically pertain to your startup and who you’re addressing.
Forwardable E-mail Networking Template
Subject Line: [Startup Name] intro to [Investors Name]?
It was great catching up with you yesterday — we’re thrilled that you think we have a convincing business model.
I noticed that you are connected with [Investors Name]. I just took a look at their investments, and they’ve invested heavily in [Industry]. I suspect they are looking into using [Market Trend] better since many [Industry] investors are moving in that direction. Would you be able to introduce us?
I’m including relevant information below if you’re able to pass it along. Thanks so much!
All the best,
[Startup Name]is a [Business Model] for […]. We [State Mission Statement]. Early customers that we’ve acquired, perform […%] better, and stay […%] longer. We focus on [Target Market/Sector/Position] and are growing our metrics […%] month over month. We could complement their portfolio well.
Check out our case study with […].
View our pitch deck by clicking […].
This email provides all the necessary details for me to forward to an investor. It’s simple, clear, and concise. The objective is to make the introduction as smooth and seamless as possible. When I proceed to forward the message, I include a personal note about how I’m affiliated with the startup and why I believe in them. If the investor decides to accept the introduction, then I’ll add the startup to the thread. The founder then proceeds to move me, the introducer, to BCC to avoid cluttering the inbox.
This method isn’t just for seeking capital from investors, but it can be used for being introduced to advisors, mentors, accelerators, etcetera. It doesn’t have to be cold either but within your network. Regardless, by sidelining warm introductions and sharing your network, you stand to get an outcome better than the benchmark against which it’s being measured in VC today. We can all benefit, especially founders.