01/25/12

How to not approach a VC (or incubator or angel or seed fund or ...)

Every once in a while (and sadly more often than you would expect) I get an email from someone seeking an investment (be it through Mozilla's WebFWD program, FoundersLink, the VC fund in Europe I am a venture partner at or my own angel investing) which just riles me. Take this prime example (details have been removed to protect the innocent):

Dear Sir / Madam ! Please, examine the project searching for investments. The ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎ project is oriented to USA market and the company will be located in the USA. ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎ is the project in the mobile area of business, providing ∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎ (∎∎∎∎∎, ∎∎∎∎∎, ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎, ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎, ∎∎∎∎∎, ∎∎∎.) ∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎. ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎ is going to be an online ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎ ∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎. It has more than ten years of experience developing ∎∎∎∎-∎∎∎ ∎∎, ∎∎∎-∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎. ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎ project was implemented as a first attempt to ∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎. Its products are based on ∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎'∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎. ∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎, ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎. ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎ ∎∎∎, ∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎. ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎ ∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎, ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎, ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎, ∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎, ∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎, ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎, ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎, ∎∎∎∎∎, ∎∎∎∎∎, ∎∎∎. ∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎ ∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎, ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎, ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎ ∎∎∎∎∎∎∎∎. Investment costs - $867 549 Please, find Executive Summary of the project below. I will provide any other additional information if necessary. Thank you for your time and consideration. I am looking forward to hearing from you. Attached Documents: 3-Page Executive Summary & Financial Forecast

BEWARE - RANT FOLLOWS:

Here's what's fundamentally wrong with this email:

  1. You clearly haven't done your homework, because otherwise you would have known that WebFWD is an accelerator program, not a fund. We also focus on open web, open source and social good projects. Thus we don't invest in companies such as yours.
  2. To further point 1 you didn't do any research on who the right person within WebFWD to talk to is - instead you sent your email to "Dear Sir / Madam". This just shows that you very obviously sent your email to every VC under the sun.
  3. Your investment requirement is $867 549? Not $867 548 or $867 550? That number shows me that you are mostly clueless about financial forecasting. I bet you serious money that your financial requirements will *not* be $867 549 to the dollar. Stating precise numbers such as this is just silly.
  4. Your executive summary starts with a unilateral NDA. That's plain rude. A VC doesn't sign NDAs - and surely not unilateral ones. Don't believe me? Brad Feld blogged about this recently. I didn't read your pitch nor your financial plan but instead deleted them immediately.
  5. Don't send me all this material. I don't care. Send me a short (!) summary and a one-pager. Focus on making your pitch exciting. Starting your pitch with the fact that your company is in the US is a wasted opportunity - nobody cares where your company is located but WHAT your company does and why the world should care. If a VC is interested, they will ask you for your financial model and all the other documents.

RANT OVER

So - do yourself a favor (and significantly increase your chances that people will actually read your pitch) and do your research, tell us clearly what you do, why we should care and what you want from us.

P.S.: Found my rant a bit harsh? I just don't want to waste your (or my) time. Read this.