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Broadening the On-ramp for Women-run Companies

How to Ask for a Startup Investor Intro

I am asked to make an introduction to people in my network several times per day, but unfortunately, I can’t say yes to most of these requests. I thought it might be helpful to share why. Here it goes:

My intros are a reflection on me. Because of this, I typically only make intros when I have spent a significant amount of time with the person requesting the intro and/or would be willing to make an investment in their company myself.

I have to limit the number of intros I make to avoid network fatigue. Therefore, I have to prioritize intros to companies I have or will be investing in.

I want to show respect for people’s time. I only want to forward relevant and easy-to-respond to email introductions.

I receive hundreds of emails per day, so I am much more likely to make the intro if the email is easily forwardable.

This last one is especially important. I, like many VCs and active angel investors, am constantly battling a full inbox. I have a hard time keeping up with requests that I can’t answer from my phone in the few minutes I have between meetings.

Since I don’t think I am unique in this, here are a few tips for crafting an email request for an intro:

Subject Line: Craft it so it doesn’t have to be changed.

Intro: Write an intro from the introducer to the person they will be sending it to so it can easily be forwarded along.

Body: Follow the tips in this blog post to increase your chance for success and to show that the introducer has respect for their contacts’ time.

Don’t expect direct intros: Ask the introducer to see if their contact is open to an intro. Don't assume they will make a direct intro.

Think about whether you have or should offer the same opportunity to the person introducing you. Sometimes companies I would be interested in investing in ask me to make an intro to another investor before they offer me the opportunity to invest. It doesn’t feel great, so watch out for that.

And here’s a sample email. Hope this helps.

———

Subject: Bill Smith open to an intro to MergeLane? - VC fund focused on authentic leaders

Email:

Hi Sarah.

We’re so glad that you’ll be joining us as a MergeLane investor. We look forward to investing in some extraordinary entrepreneurs with you. I recently came across Bill Smith’s profile it seems like he might be interested in investing as well. Would you be willing to see if he is open to an introduction? 

Below is a note from me that you can pass on for context. Thank you so much for your support – Elizabeth

———–

Hi Bill.

My name is Elizabeth Kraus. I am a founding partner at MergeLane. We invest in exceptional startups and venture capital funds led by authentic founders. Because we've seen the performance data, we only invest in opportunities led by at least one female leader.

We are looking for a few additional high-value investors to add to our network. It looks like you have an interest in women-led companies. Would you be open to a quick phone call? I am available between noon and 3pm PST every day this week. Just let me know if you’d like to connect and which number I should call.

About MergeLane

- Since its 2015 founding, MergeLane has invested in 48 opportunities and recruited a network of 300 mentors and 600 investors.

- MergeLane leverages this network and its focus on Conscious Leadership to drive superior investor returns.  

- Our 2015 investments (which have had the most time to mature) are now valued at 5.8x our investment. Our entire previous fund portfolio is valued at over 2.6x our investment, net of fees.

- MergeLane returned capital to our first fund’s investors at a rate 60% faster than the industry average. 

- Our investors and close advisors include Seth Levine a founding partner of Foundry Group, one of the world’s top ranked venture capital funds; David Cohen, the founder and CEO and Nicole Glaros, the Chief Investment Strategy Officer of Techstars, the largest network of startup accelerators; and Kat Cole, the former President of Cinnabon.

Looking forward to connecting,

Elizabeth Kraus

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