A VC at a firm that invested in Uber and Snap explains why highlighting your customers is the key to getting his attention with a cold email pitch

Uber IPO Dara Khosrowshahi

The best way to catch a VC’s attention with a cold email is to demonstrate that reputable companies are interested in your product, according to Aaron Jacobson, a partner at New Enterprise Associates.
“Get customers to buy into your solution before you even build anything,” Jacobson told Business Insider.
Jacobson said founders too often do the opposite, creating a product first and assuming they’ll find the demand later.

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Even when the stakes are low — say you’re looking to enroll your misbehaving puppy in obedience school — sending a cold email means making a series of educated guesses about what will earn your recipient’s attention, and their response. When the stakes are high — say you’re a startup founder vying for the attention of a venture capitalist — the accuracy of those guesses can prove the difference between thriving, surviving, and going under.

When Aaron Jacobson, a partner at the venture-capital firm New Enterprise Associates, opens a cold email from a startup founder, he always looks for the names of potential customers that have already expressed interest in the startup through an agreement for a pilot project or letter-of-intent (LOI).

Even before the startup has built a prototype of its product, Jacobson wants to see evidence of a potential market for its idea. Founders often make the mistake of doing the opposite, he said: creating a product first and assuming the demand will follow.

Forget “Field of Dreams.”

“Get customers to buy into your solution before you even build anything,” Jacobson said in an interview with Business Insider. “If you can get Fortune 500 customers to commit to pilots, LOIs, or whatever it may be, that really helps validate that there’s going to be demand for this solution.” And it’s demand that makes a business. 

Outrider, an autonomous-vehicle startup focused on making robots for distribution yards, caught the attention of New Enterprise Associates by securing interest in pilot projects from reputable companies. In 2018, the firm led a $9 million seed round for the company — which it followed in 2019 with a $53 million Series A round.

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Source:: Business Insider – Tech

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