How to Pitch a Startup Idea by Email.

How to pitch a startup idea by email? I scoffed a bit when I saw the question, on Quora. Nobody invests in ideas, I mumbled to myself. And pitching by email? Fat chance.

how to pitch a startup idea

But then I read the answer here, written by Bret Fox, former CEO of Touchstone Semiconductor, and now a CEO coach.

Here is Bret’s answer:

And the following is Bret Fox’s answer to how to pitch a startup idea by email, on Quora. Direct quote.


When I was feeling really desperate (a common occurrence when I was raising our initial funding), I would build up a list of potential investors I had no way of getting a warm introduction to.

You can learn how to develop a cold email that works too. Just follow these three steps:

Email Pitch Step 1: Narrow the Target

Step 1: The first thing I would do was make sure I was targeting people who were investing in our product area.

It seems obvious. But you’ve got no chance if you target a random group of VCs.

So do your homework and make sure the firm is investing in your business area, and you identify the partner that actually does investments in your business area. Oh, and make sure the firm invests in the stage of operation your company is at.

Email Pitch Step 2: Make your subject line to the point.

In our case, we were making Analog ICs. So my subject line was: Analog IC investment opportunity.

That’s it. You can’t trick people into opening your email. They’re either interested or not.

Email Pitch Step 3: Make your message short.

Introduce yourself and tell them what you’re doing. A key point is don’t try and sell the deal in the email.

You want to provide enough information to let them know what you’re about, but not so much that you’re trying to pitch in an email.. The goal is to get a meeting or a phone call.

So, I did something like this:

Hi Name,

My name is Brett Fox. I am the CEO of Touchstone Semiconductor.

Touchstone is a high-performance Analog IC company (think Linear and Maxim) that achieves profitability with minimal funding.

The founding team, including the design team, are alumni of Maxim. The designers average over 20 years of experience.

We have a term sheet from a very good VC on Sand Hill Road, and we are looking for an additional investor. Please let me know how you would like to proceed.

Best regards,

Brett Fox

Let me break this down for you, so you can understand what we were doing.

Each sentence had a purpose.

Each sentence had a purpose. The sentences in your cold email should as well.

The first sentence was introducing myself and the name of our company.

My name is Brett Fox. I am the CEO of Touchstone Semiconductor.

The second sentence explained what we did, how to think about our company, and how we were different in a meaningful way:

Touchstone is a high-performance Analog IC company (think Linear and Maxim) that achieves profitability with minimal funding.

The two companies I referenced, Linear and Maxim, were considered the two most successful companies in the Analog Semiconductor space. The reference to minimal funding addressed a concern that investors had about the costliness of investing in semiconductor companies.

The third sentence showed that the team was strong:

The founding team, including the design team, are alumni of Maxim. The designers average over 20 years of experience.

The final sentence explained where we were at in the fundraising process:

We have a term sheet from a very good VC on Sand Hill Road, and we are looking for an additional investor. Please let me know how you would like to proceed.

Already having one investor in the bag, especially a highly regarded VC, is a good thing.

So what were the results of this simple, to the point, email?

It worked.

We got meetings with this simple pitch. I think we had about a 20% success rate.

Now we didn’t get an investment with this approach (the traditional warm-introduction approach eventually did the trick), but that’s not the point.

The point is you can get meetings with cold emails. Target the right investors and be direct and you put yourself in play.

For more, read: The Nine Facts Of Fundraising You Need To Know – Brett J. Fox

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get the Bplans newsletter:

Expert business tips and advice delivered weekly.