Image: Pink Floyd

Update: Here’s a simpler approach I like.

Scheduling meetings with investors — this topic is so banal you may wonder why someone needs to write about it all. But since we started AngelList, we’ve been making daily introductions between investment-grade startups and top-tier investors like Satish Dharmaraj (Posterous), Jeff Clavier (Mint), and Aaron Patzer (Milo). We see a lot of first time entrepreneurs trying to schedule meetings with investors.

This is not how you do it (based on a true story):


It is a pleasure to meet you. I would love to tell you more about Yomommaco. Next week we are at DEMO but the following week is wide open. Please let me know if there is a date/time that works for a meeting.

BTW, I am big admirer of some of your investments… KISSmetrics looks very interesting. Gowalla too.

Looking forward to speaking with you,

Yngwie Malmsteen
CEO, Yomommaco


What’s wrong with this email? First, Yngwie proposes meeting in over a week — what’s wrong with right now? Second, he doesn’t propose any times to meet. Third, he doesn’t talk about the fact that he lives on the other side of the country. Fourth, he CC’ed me instead of moving me to BCC. Fifth, he makes an attempt to add a personal touch about KISSmetrics and Gowalla but he’s too colloquial (BTW?) and the touch isn’t personal at all — it’s just a list of company names.

How to do it right

This is how you do it (based on a true story):

Thanks Nivi (bcc'ed).


I'm back in SF on Wed 3/31. I could meet anytime the following day Thurs 4/1 after 3pm or Fri 4/2 before noon.

Since I won't be in SF for 10 days and we've already secured some commitments for the financing, why don't we get the conversation started with a 30 minute phone call anytime tomorrow Mon 3/22 after 2pm or Tue 3/23 after noon? My cell is 213.333.8923.

If you happen to be in Cambridge, MA anytime between now and 3/31, I could meet you there. Similarly, if you're in NYC in the next week, I could hop on a bus and make that work too.

I'm looking forward to talking.

Yngwie Malmsteem

The principles of scheduling meetings with investors.

Respond immediately and be available to meet immediately. BCC the introducer. If you don’t live nearby, find out where the investor is (Plancast anyone?) and let them know if you’re going to be there soon. If you’re not going to be near them soon, propose a phone call. Propose specific times to talk. If there’s a deadline on the financing or you’re going to be oversubscribed, politely let them know. Write less — you have no idea how busy a typical investor’s inbox is. Don’t be colloquial. Attach a copy of your deck. Use an email program like Gmail that generates narrow fucking columns. Don’t write HTML emails. Include a cell # and URL in the signature and not much more. Bonus: include one line of good news — or start the email with a substantive sentence about a mutual acquaintance or something about the investor’s portfolio or blog or whatever.

P.S. Good news: we just hired Steve Wozniak. / Barney Rubble just committed to the financing. / We just had our first $1000 revenue day. / I got hair plugs and they look great.

Seed financings get done through a positive feedback loop of social proof, scarcity and momentum. Focus on the financing, get it done, and get back to work.

Topics AngelList · Auctions

17 comments · Show

  • Michael Weiksner

    Important if mundane post. Your advice equally applies to sales as it does to fund raising. Follow-up emails in both cases should be prompt, confident, and direct.

  • Jason Wolfe

    Email comms are so, so vital, and yet so few people even attempt to master the art. I’d offer for consideration:

    1. Read the damned thing back to yourself, particularly if important, before you send it. Check for structure and edit out as much as you can.

    2. Be really, really careful about using humor; it often doesn’t translate in the medium of written text.

    3. One objective per email. You want them to do two things for you? Write two emails (some people don’t agree with this, but personally I like my emails to be action-oriented).

    4. Two sentences per paragraph (maximum). Nobody complains about having blocks of text broken up _too_ much.

  • Eric

    I would not hesitate one minute to invest in an Yngwie Malmsteem deal.

  • Sheng

    One general question, do I need to dress up when meeting with investors or participating in a venture capital conference? Thanks.

  • Christopher Kaminski

    This is a great post. Having a clearly-defined vision for what you’re aiming to accomplish is critical to achieving positive results. Being action-oriented moves you and others forward. Communicating accurately and concisely helps the whole process work smoothly.

    It’s curious how those principles work in everything from writing an email to running a business, right?

  • VC

    For what it’s worth, you need to qualify what type of investor. As a VC, I see lots of emails like the first one and they work just as well because (a) my calendar is full for the next two weeks and (b) my assistant will make the meeting. I really don’t need to see a list of times you are free because she will follow up with you directly and tell you when I am available.

    As a gut feel, that second email comes across as sort of desperate. “I’ll be in SF/NY/Boston but I’ll meet you anywhere” is what I hear from companies who generally don’t have financing commitments.

  • Hasan Luongo

    “get it done, and get back to work.” Great quote.

  • Jonathan

    I once learned a few rules:

    1. 100 words or less works the best.
    2. Don’t tell them anything about the company other than “we’re in the __x__ industry” (which usually makes #1 easy).

    If you have a good intro to them, any bit of information you provide in an email counts against you. They’re going to speak/meet with you, so don’t give them reasons not to in a message. Aside from the volume-of-emails issue, people will read into your words and often make a judgment on bits of information (as they presumably know the space well).

    BTW, seeing Yngwie in my inbox made my day a whole lot better.

    • Nivi

      Glad you like the Yngwie reference. I think you should actually include some info on the business, including attaching a deck and linking to it. I updated the post to reflect this. Agreed on 100 words.

  • Mark MacLeod

    Definitely agree that you should suggest immediate contact. I even go a step further and make my full schedule available to investors online:

  • Joey Flores

    RE: Sheng — Yes. I am definitely a work-in-jeans kind of guy but any meeting or networking event that is focused on or directed at investors is usually business attire. I went to the Tech Coast Angels Fast Pitch event in jeans and a nice shirt. It was not pretty. Everyone was wearing suits and one of the presenters was even asked why he did not have a jacket on.

    As it turns out, his wife was in the audience wearing his jacket because she was cold. The guy won big points for that one.

  • John Riley

    Agree with the approach of pressing for an immediate meeting, but I think there is one additional point that is very important. I’m talking about putting a statement in the email that introduces or recaps your primary selling proposition, for example, “Our independent market research shows we can achieve a 32% market share in two years with a 14% net margin.”

    The point is that these investors are loaded with business plans and proposals and they aren’t going to remember everyone’s so you want to remind them what you have to offer. Secondly, some of these investors have their staff handle incoming communications and you want to be sure they don’t sidetrack your meeting request because it doesn’t look promising. Also, prepare yourself for a somewhat lengthy process because it will take longer than you expect.

  • ZingerSteve

    What’s your advice for setting meetings “immediately” if you live in another state and cannot travel on short notice?