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Hi I’m Maren Bannon, I’m the co-founder of Jane VC. Jane is a new fund to invest in early stage female lead startups in Europe in the U.S.
Before moving to Europe and starting Jane, I spent my career as an operator in San Francisco. I worked at large tech companies, startups, and I was also a founder. At university I studied engineering, and over and over again I was surrounded by rooms full of men. I got the idea of starting Jane from my experience as a woman in tech, and recognizing the huge untapped potential of female founders. I want the technology being built to be as diverse as the people on this planet.
Today I want to give founders actionable advice on how to cold pitch a VC.
60% of VCs are white men who went to Stanford or Harvard. If you went to one of these schools, chances are you have a warm connection. If you’re one of the other 7 billion people in the world you likely don’t have this network, but you still may be building something incredible. This is why we started Jane VC: we decided to let anyone cold pitch us because we believe that access to venture capital should depend on what you’re building, not who you know, or, where you went to school. I’m personally a huge believer in cold emailing, calling, pitching. I’ve gotten jobs, made friends, and acclimated to new countries this way. There’s something magical about the way a cold intro inserts you into a new network, and broaden the people that you interact with.
So today, I’m going to give some actionable advice about how to cold pitch a VC.
Tip number 1: tailor the email to the person you’re trying to reach. VCs are inundated with emails and impersonal emails are very obvious, so when you’re writing to a VC take the time to research that particular investor and explain why you think they would be interested. Have they made investments in adjacent industries? Do they have a past role at a company your competitive sat? Is there something unique about the way they think about the world that you think would resonate?
Tip number 2: nail you’re one liner. This is the old elevator pitch, it’s still highly relevant. You need to be able to describe your business in a ten second elevator ride. You should be able to describe who you are, what makes you unique, and what you offer, in one simple sentence. Until you can automatically and succinctly explain the heart of what you do this quickly you’ll be wasting your time pitching anyone.The important thing to remember with this advice is to be short and to the point.
Since launching Jane in less than a year ago, we’ve received 1,400 pitches. That’s a lot of emails in my inbox. When I get dense paragraphs of text, it’s really hard to get through it, and when I get short succinct emails with bullet points explaining why this company matters, that’s what catches my eye.
Tip number 3: list bullet points on your traction. This could be users or revenue numbers, notable customers, advocates, angel investors with relevant industry expertise. A bulleted list makes these bragging points easy to skim and gives VCs a quick overview of who you are and why you matter.
Tip number 4: make sure to explain why YOU. In this initial pitch you should have a brief description of your founding team. Make this easy to skim, again, highlight which parts of your background make you the ideal people to run this business.
Tip number 5: include and ask. Be explicit, why are you contacting this VC? Are you trying to raise a seed round? Are you simply looking for advice? Be very clear about what you’re asking for.
Tip number 6: include the right materials. Your letter can be very brief to a VC, but make sure to include more information in case it is something that’s interesting to them. This could be a deck or a one pager about your company. You could attach it as a PDF with compressed photos, or a link like Dropbox or Google Drive.
Thanks for having me on this episode today, I’m really excited about 50inTech’s mission of reaching gender equality in the tech industry. It’s very aligned with what we’re doing at Jane.