It kind of bums me out when investors say they won't chat with a founder without an introduction from someone they trust. I understand why a VC would do this; if you've been around long enough -- and are halfway good at what you do -- you're bound to have so many entrepreneurs pitching you that you have to have a filter of some kind. I'm still new.
But new or not, my goal is to always be accessible because while anyone can have a good idea, not everyone has connections. I remember what it was like being on the outside of all this stuff and how much it meant to me when people I respected would agree to chat just on the basis of a cold email. So I've committed to keeping the filter open, even if it means dealing with a lot of email rather than ignoring it.
In that spirit, here are some suggestions on how to send me a cold email:
Use my contact form. It's easier than digging around for my email address and I have a Gmail filter setup to make sure I see everything that comes in this way. If you have my email address it's also fine to email me directly.
Don't try to sell me something. I don't feel bad about ignoring these emails.
Looking for investment? Let me know that you're raising money (or thinking about it) and give me an idea of what the product is. Also, take a couple of minutes before you write to familiarize yourself with the what kind of investing we do at betaworks ventures. We may not be the best fit for you in terms of stage/market/check size. Of course, if you're not sure, it's completely fine to ask. If you're working on something that's relevant to me as an investor, odds are that I'll be happy to meet with you. It's kind of my job, right?
Looking for advice on something you're building? Give me a brief description of the product and the kind of advice you're looking for.
Looking for career advice? I can't guarantee I'll have anything useful to offer, but I'll try to be helpful.
Want me to speak at your conference or event? Sure, please ask!
Want me to try out your product? My gadget reviewing days are long past, but if you'd like me to check something out I'll probably say yes.
One last thing: Don't ask me for an introduction to someone else I know. It's hard for me to make introductions for people I don't know.
That's about it. I promise I'll do my best to get back to you.