Race to Saturn

Cold Email Examples


This page contains examples of successful cold emails. The goal is to provide templates for us to follow when reaching out to people we don’t know well yet.


Harry Stebbings booking his first guest

The Email: Asking Guy Kawasaki to Be His First Guest

As Harry Stebbings shared on Twitter here, after starting an email conversation with Guy, Harry sent Guy this email:

Dear Guy,

I am sorry for reaching out to you seemingly out of the blue, I am emailing you because I am creating a podcast, ‘The Twenty Minute VC’, which delves inside the world of Venture Capital in a easily digestible and informative 20 minutes.

When thinking who I would be most interested to interview, it was simple, your work with Apple and journey to the VC world is truly inspiring and I would be delighted if you would be my first interview guest. Let me know what you think?

Guy said yes. And Harry was off to the races.


Harry Stebbings hosts the popular and excellent VC and startup-focused podcast, The Twenty Minute VC (20VC). Harry got excited about venture capital when he was 13, and started the podcast in 2015 at 18. Harry recounts his background on The Seedcamp Podcast, episode 91. He’s also become an active VC investor himself.

For his first guest, Harry focused on Guy Kawasaki, given Guy’s prominence and his distribution channels. Guy is a successful author, founder, and investor. Harry read Guy’s books, and reached out to him with the goal of starting a conversation.

Guy’s email is on his website, and Harry used that to reach out to him. For his first contact, he emailed Guy with an email along the following lines:

Hi Guy. I’m sorry to bother you, I’m sure you get a lot of emails. But I loved your book, and I was especially inspired by page 278, where you talked about the evolution of mobile with the rise of social, and I’m intrigued to see how that will develop with emerging platforms like VR and Bitcoin.

(Harry talks about this on “The Seedcamp Podcast” episode 91, from around minute 5:00.)

He emphasized that his goal was just to start a conversation, and it was important that he not lead off with an ask. Instead, keep the ask until the conversation is already going. After they had a good conversation going, only then did Harry ask whether Guy would come on his show, and Guy said yes.

Harry notes that once Guy came on, that enabled Harry to get the next 10 guests. (He shares a related piece of advice: After getting a big win, go for confidence. So focus on getting other smaller wins so you can keep momentum and build up your track record.)


In detailing how the app OpenPhone got its first 1,000 paying customers, co-founder Daryna Kulya discusses her cold email strategy. First, segment potential recipients into different groups, and develop a form email for each group. And then send out the emails with a slight amount of personalization per email.

Here’s an example (reaching out to other startup founders):

Subject: quick question about [company name]

Hey Nathan,

By means of quick into, my name is Daryna and I’m one of the founders of OpenPhone. We’re in the current YC batch.

I see you have a 415 phone number on your website for customer support.

Would you mind sharing what service you are using for this number and how happy you are with it?

We’re building a simple and modern phone system for businesses at OpenPhone.

Let me know if you’d be interested in checking it out. Would love your thoughts!

Much appreciated,

PS - love the design of your website, incredibly well done!

Note the “By means of quick into” - minor typo in the first line. But yet the company still stands. In other words, don’t be too tough on yourself if what you send out is not perfect.

Tyler Bosmeny of Clever: His Sales Email

Tyler Bosmeny is the CEO of Clever, which provides a single sign-on platform for education apps to use. Clever is used in about 65% of all US K-12 schools, and was purchased in September 2021 by Kahoot for about $500 million.

In an excellent talk to Y Combinator in September 2018, Tyler talks about his sales process, and shares this cold email example:

John - my name is Tyler and I’m the CEO of Clever. My company has developed new technology that reduces the time spent doing SIS integrations by 80%.

I figured this might be of interest to you given the new middle school reading software Scholastic just released.

I’d love to get your feedback even if you’re not in the market for this right now. Do you have 20 minutes this week? I’m open Tuesday at 1 or 2pm ET if either may work.


As Tyler says: “It’s short, it’s to the point, it’s personal, it’s actionable.” The goal is to get a conversation.

**Note: On a recent Founders Project call, we discussed that the last part of this email - requesting a specific time to talk - is appropriate for some, not all situations. In some situations, your first goal is to start a conversation over email, so your priority is to get them to reply. In that case, it may be better to limit the amount of decisions a recipient needs to make before replying. (Decision = “Am I interested?” + “When am I available”). So you might want to wait until your second email in the exchange to propose a specific time, while leaving the initial email with a simple question, like: “Does this sound helpful?” / “Would you like to learn more?” / “Let me know if you’d like to chat sometime”.

Michael Seibel

Michael Seibel is the CEO of YCombinator, and has provided a bunch of great examples regarding cold emails.

To start, he wrote a helpful article about how he views cold emails here:

Here’s a hypothetical he provides from that article:

Hey Michael,

My name is Tim and I’m building Twitch for cooking. I previously ran programming at the Food Network and my technical co-founder is a college friend. We’re working on our mvp and were wondering whether we should build out private messaging in addition to group chat or just group chat alone.


Michael also provides a great video overview here:

And in a separate talk he provided a simple guide to follow: Michael says that if he receives a cold email, he will try his best to reply, especially if: “I can read and reply in 30 seconds.”