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Poll Results on the Unsolicited Startup Idea Email

In this last poll we asked:

You get an email from someone you’ve never met (poor communication skills, but a decent idea) and they want to cut you in and give you control over a new web company they want to start. Do you:

And listed some potential responses. This is how you over 27,000 of you responded.

See the Pen Pie Chart with Conic Gradient by Chris Coyier (@chriscoyier) on CodePen.

The most common response was “Delete the email.” with nearly half the votes (46%). I don’t find this particularly surprising. I said in the premise that the email was worded poorly. That often scans as spam, which we have little tolerance for. Even if you can tell it isn’t, it’s not a good start. We are so busy these days, we don’t typically have time for even the best of ideas, let alone questionable ones. 6% would respond with “Thanks but no thanks.”

The second biggest slice was “Email back to discuss, but skeptically.” at 31%. This is the most pragmatic choice, assuming you don’t have so many of these the few minutes it takes to type up replies would eat up your whole day. Between outright rejecting the idea and being skeptical of it, we’re at 83%.

9% of you said you’d “Email back to discuss, all business.”

The remaining is split, 4% and 4%, between the two positive answers “Email back to discuss, flattered and positive” and “Jump right in, startupville here I come.”

Doesn’t bode well for our poor unsolicited email.

So what should they put in the email if they are trying to do better at finding help with their idea? I’m not sure our limited data can speak to that, but a little life experience and common sense could. I’d say:

  • Be clear, direct, well-spoken, and honest in the email.
  • Keep it short.
  • Offer some evidence that you are real and your thing is real.
  • Be excited and optimistic.
  • Explain exactly what you need.
  • Explain why it could be good for both of us.

New poll in next few days. Always open to ideas!


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