This Is How Long Your Cold Call Intro Email to Me Should Be…

3 min readAug 20, 2016

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Hi awesome entrepreneur,

My name is Arlan, and I’ve launched a new venture capital fund called Backstage Capital that invests exclusively in underrepresented founders (specifically women, people of color, LGBT). A few years ago, while working in the live music touring industry (my dream job!), I became fascinated with the startup world and started lending my assistance to several startup founders and angel investors as a hobby. Over time, I noticed that there seemed to be an investor “blind spot” to a huge group of innovators that didn’t fit the stereotypical founder mold, and realized there was an opportunity to capitalize on this. Traditional investors’ loss could be my gain.

Today I have invested in a dozen companies from around the country out of a $5m seed fund with the help of an amazing list of LP investors, will see 1,000+ deals in 2016, and plan to invest in several more companies over the next few years. Here is a story about Backstage that featured on their front page a few days ago. I’m also attaching a deck that highlights our team and sheds more light on our vision. I love what you’re doing with your company and I hope one day soon that you’ll want us to invest in you. Please get back to me if you have any questions.

Arlan, Managing Partner, Backstage Capital

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I receive 50–100 new emails per day, with the majority being intro emails. I love getting them, and I welcome them. But sometimes — a lot of times — those emails can be too long. What happens when they’re too long? I skip over parts, I scan, it loses its punch, I save for later, and have a hard time coming back to it. This isn’t always the case, but it happens more often than not. There are only so many hours in a day, and while I have lots of patience in general, I have to maximize efficiency and effectiveness if I’m going to do my job well.

So…the above is an email I just wrote to you, the reader, the entrepreneur, and it is a good yard stick for how long an email to me “should” be if you want me fully engaged. If I received an email of that length or shorter, I would read each word. I would be compelled to learn more.

I used to write absolute NOVELS to people when I was first emailing strangers. I mean, just…the longest, life-story-telling emails ever. I still do sometimes. But what I’ve found has been that the most effective, and the ones that get the most response, are of the length above. Make it personal, but get to the point. Leave room for more later. Make it an exchange, and not an allegory. Don’t have me traipsing through Narnia to find your point.

One thing I do that has been super helpful is write out what I want to say, and then…edit/cut at least 50%. It’s actually fun to do that now bc its like developing a skill. Blogs, screenplays, letters to your ex…those are places where long monologues are appropriate. Not the inbox of the person you’ve never spoken with but want to get back to you within a decent amount of time.

Of course, don’t do this either:

Hey miss *Arlene,

I’ve got a billion $ idea. You can have up to $1million of my $1million raise. Sign the attached NDA, then let’s have coffee today or tomorrow and I’ll tell you all about it.

-Your future unicorn**

I want us all to win. I want to find the best and the brightest. I want to learn and I want to share my learnings with anyone who’s interested. I’m building Backstage brick by brick, day by day, and for every 100 companies I see, I only get to invest in 2 or 3. I’ll miss out on a TON and it’ll probably haunt me for a long time. But let’s not miss out on meeting each other over a technicality.

Short and sweet, so we can meet:)

Arlan is the founder and managing partner of Backstage Capital, a seed investment fund that backs high-potential, underrepresented startup founders. She is also a music tour manager, currently working with New Zealand Music Award winner Janine & the Mixtape.

For interviews or other questions, please email