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Cold Email: One of the Best Kept Secrets in Silicon Valley

How Founders Can Use Cold Email To Initiate Early Traction

Reach out to industry experts for research help.

Before you get started, you need to truly understand where you can find your potential users. Omni is your own personal, on-demand storage concierge, Spot helps you find the best places in the world according to experts and friends, and Nuzzel creates a news feed based on what your friends are reading and sharing. I don’t have much experience in storage, location discovery, or media so I decided to reach out to experts in each field so I didn’t waste time targeting the wrong groups.

Use short and descriptive subject lines.

When crafting your subject line, remember to keep it short and clear. It’s also important to provide context and possibly mention a topic the recipient is familiar with. Personalize when possible and ask yourself if there’s a way to tailor the subject line more towards the individual. Lastly, it’s essential to align your subject line copy and email copy. The email message should deliver what your email subject line promises. When readers don’t get what they’re actually promised in the subject line, they feel deceived. Here are some subject lines that worked for me:

Personalize. Personalize. Personalize.

Everyone knows that in order to increase the probability of a response or action, personalization is critical. However, not many people actually put this into practice. Most people don’t want to take the time to put in the work and perform the research on the individual they’re emailing. I sent 267 emails and they were all personalized. This may seem extremely time consuming and daunting; however, I only spent a few minutes researching each prospective user. I looked over their blog or website until I found an article or section that resonated with me. You don’t need to spend a substantial amount of time searching for the perfect article. Just find something you can identify with. Ryan Graves has explained the connection could be a common past (e.g. fellow alumni) or a shared experience. Here are some examples from the emails I sent:

Write content that connects to their pain point.

After personalizing, it’s critical you understand what motivates the recipient. Once you understand what motivates them/what problems they’re truly encountering, you can deliver your solution and explain how it suits their needs and resolves their issues.

Get scrappy.

One of the experts I spoke with when researching for Omni mentioned I should target professional organizers. After looking through some pro organizers’ websites, I learned that most of them don’t have blogs. So I needed a clever way to reach out to them while still making a personal connection. I decided I would have the best chance to sign them up if I could get them on the phone. Here’s my initial email to set up a call:

Rejection happens. Push through it.

It was extremely hard to get people to sign up through cold email because I don’t work at these companies. I experienced a substantial amount of rejection during this project. However, you’ve got to have a short memory and you have to have the grit to keep pushing.

Key Takeaways:

Cold email won’t scale, but it’s a great way for founders to initiate early momentum and develop personal connections with early users. Here are some key points for founders to remember when doing cold email:

  1. Personalize the first few sentences of the email. Do your research and find a common interest.
  2. Write content that resolves the recipient’s pain points. Understand what motivates them and explain how your product suits their needs.
  3. Be brief and make sure your ask is clear.
  4. Get scrappy and push through rejection.



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