How to get intros

Rodolfo Rosini
5 min readApr 8, 2021

I advise a number of early stage startups, and some of what I need to teach them is the same, so I figured I would save some time next just by pointing at this, as well as sharing it with the wider community. This is not a guide about fundraising, but since most of the intros I make are about it, I have also added some VC-specific advice.

If you are getting an intro assume that someone is pulling favors to get you in front of that person, and you need to be on top of things. Here are few quick tips on how to optimize the process:

  • Only ask for intros when you are ready to get the intro, and prepare intro emails in advance. Don’t ask for intros and then go “ok I will get back to you in 2 weeks when the deck is ready”
  • Assume double opt in is the standard
  • Read this guide https://also.roybahat.com/introductions-and-the-forward-intro-email-14e2827716a1
  • The subject line should be “your name or company name / recipient’s” (this is very important because otherwise gmail clumps them all in one thread and it’s easy to lose replies)
  • If you need intros but don’t know from whom, do your research in advance. Don’t ask for things that are too vague like “any enterprise customer who might be interested in my products”. Be very specific. Try to imagine who would have a problem, prioritize a specific industry, company size, geography, or role of the person you want to speak to (e.g. head of innovation of the 10 largest banks in the UK)
  • Learn to use LinkedIn advanced search. You can for example craft a query that returns all the VCs in Kazakhstan, connected to someone currently working at ConceptionX, that mention pre-seed, enterprise, or deep tech in their bio. Use your creativity
  • Do not use LinkedIn mail for introductions. It’s garbage and almost all investors switch it off
  • Check Dealroom, AngelList, Nordic9, Crunchbase for previous deals. If they have not done a deal in the last 90 days then probably they don’t have cash, same as if all their deals are follow-ons for their existing portfolio (meaning that they are using their cash reserves and not a new fund). Check the website if they are only B2B or B2C or what investment thesis they have. This to make sure you don’t chase people that won’t talk to you, and take their refusal as proof that there is something wrong with your deck. The most important thing is 1) do they lead investments in your geography? And 2) do they lead investments at your seed stage. If not then you are wasting everyone’s time, including mine
  • Check also for portfolio clashes. In that case they can’t invest
  • Leave the top VCs and the ones you are most interested in last. This is counterintuitive, but if you can’t convince the mediocre ones, you are better off to go back at the drawing board. You only get one chance to pitch to each VCs for each stage of funding
  • If it’s an investor email include KPIs if you have them. If you don’t then why are you talking to investors? It’s a waste of time, yours and theirs
  • If it’s an investor email and you get a reply, REPLY IMMEDIATELY. This is the most important thing. You can’t sit on emails. You have a phone, unless you are asleep or some urgent family matter, reply immediately (anyway it’s probably going to be a request for a meeting). I cannot stress this enough. If you are not ready for this don’t ask for intros yet
  • Understand that it’s not their job to invest in your company. Their job is to be fund managers for OPM (other people’s money). They don’t owe you anything, not even a reply, and even if your startup is the hottest thing ever, they are human and they might decide to pass. Don’t argue. No need to be subservient either if they pass, as they are not really doing you a favor. Acknowledge their decision and move on
  • Do not be rude to the contacts that you are intro’d to. Because you are not only representing your company, but also mine in those emails, and burning bridges with investors makes it harder for everyone else in your peer group to get an intro
  • One the other hand if anything untowards or unprofessional were to happen please contact me immediately. Historically the amount of fuckery from VCs to female founders has been non-trivial and have no problem blacklisting VCs, and letting know their own investors (who are pension funds with zero tolerance for this stuff) and the rest of the community
  • If you are asking for multiple intros then create an Airtable (or other CRM) so you can track emails, also best to go through the target list before sending, and check with the person making intros before actually sending the emails, because they might not be able to forward dozens of emails right away
  • Try to send in clusters of 10s so you can get feedback instead of going through the entire list
  • Send your deck as a PDF attachment, or (2023 update) DocSend. Don’t wait to be asked for one. You only have limited interaction with the person so best to send relevant information in advance
  • Don’t send weird-ass formats, don’t send anything bigger than 10mb
  • At the same time do not send both decks and executive summaries or other redundant information. Most of these people have little time and zero patience, be thankful if they open your attachment, do not be presumptuous and assume they are going to open two (and even deciding which one should open first adds too much friction)
  • There is an advantage in sending a link, because you can update the content. But the content should have been final, and the only thing that can change are your KPIs, and a marginal data point won’t change much. Strong KPIs raise funding not pixel fucking

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Rodolfo Rosini

CEO and founder, stealth. Also working with Conception X helping PhD students become venture scientists.