How to cold-email me (or anyone else)

How to cold-email me (or anyone else) – by Thomas Korte

If you need to send a cold-email, here is how:

Being on Angellist, roughly tripled the amount of “pitch emails” that I usually get. It inspired me this post about how to contact me or anyone you don’t know and can’t get an introduction to.

Here is the “cold-email” (as in cold-call) format that I find most useful when being approached. I use this format myself if I can’t get an introduction. The example in italics is an imaginary email.

  • Who are you and where are you located?
    Hi Thomas,
    I am a engineering student at MIT, I will graduate in 2010 and ….
  • How do you know me or who introduced you?
    … I saw your presentation about “social search developments at Google” when you visited MIT in 2007….
  • Why are you writing to me? What is your idea/ product/ vision/ company?
    This is your elevator pitch – do yourself a favor and spend $9 on the Pitching Hacks book.
    … Inspired by your presentation, I started to work on a product that aggregates a user social graph (FB, LN, Friendfeed), analyzes the content of posts to determine the users subject knowledge and uses that information to rank users for specific subjects. So, imagine you need to plan a wedding: You just login to FB and find your friend most likely to be helpful with weddings. Your friend might not even be aware that he/she is the most knowledgeable person you know about the subject matter in your social graph ….
  • Give me additional info (attachment)
    Or even better, send me a login to your alpha site
    … Attached is a presentation/ document/ thesis/ article that explains the idea/ product in more detail…
  • How can I help you and why do you think I can help you?
    … I am currently looking for $50k to work full time on the alpha product launch. You would be a great person to get on board, both as an investor and advisor given your background in social search at Google and the patent you published in 2004 …
  • What is the next step?
    … If you are interested, I am in SF on …. and would like to show you an early version of the product.
  • (Extra Credit) Get me excited!
    … During the visit I am also meeting with xxx (smart angel investor) and yyy (smart product person at great company e.g. google)So, you’re still reading – like it?? Please click to
Apart from cold-emailing me, you should consider this:
1. Get introduced to me by someone I know, your chances of getting a response are very high.
2. Get to know me before contacting me: read my blog, my tweets, my FF stream and hackernews, my shared Google Reader. If you dig, you’ll find a few more places where I post and share my thoughts. (On a related note, if you are/want to build a product that can aggregate and distribute all my social streams – email me *right now*).
3. Respond to my posts, comments and other creative outbursts – start an online conversation with me.
4. Catch me in person – (well, unless I pick up my son from school or have a romantic dinner with my wife.) I use 4square, Rummble, Gowalla (rarely), placepop (as of last week), yelp check-ins (sometimes) and mytown – sometimes soon I will decide which one to exclusively. Also, most of my tweets are geo-tagged. If I attend conferences or other events (hint:, I usually tweet it a day or so before. UPDATE (3/15/10: I decided to use Plancast if I am at events where I want to meet people.  Come and talk to me.
5. Consider the venturehacks startup list.  Their email has almost *everything* I need to know. And if you go through the hassle to answer all their questions, I certainly appreciate the effort and realize that you are serious.
You made it this far, so here is the real secret to get my attention:  Use the venturehacks startup list and their form to email me with the format above.  That way I really have everything I need.
written by Thomas Korte,