The “always find a warm intro to a VC” axiom is misunderstood. Its intent was to suggest that a mutual connection who can vouch for an entrepreneur’s abilities, experience and perseverance would be of value to the process. This is still true. It did not mean “find someone who happens to have the VC’s contact info and get them to forward an email without much context or relevance.” At least one third, and maybe as much as 50%, of the “warm introductions” I receive fall into this category.
What happens in this case? Something like the following…
Me: Hey thanks for the forward. Are you vouching for this person or just passing along? Are you investing as an angel, or would you if you could?
“Warm” Intro: Met him at an event somewhere but don’t really know him… Worked with her but she’s actually not that good… [or variation of these]
From my standpoint, it’s a negative signal for an entrepreneur to take this route. It suggests lack of self-awareness or strategic thinking – you prized someone having my email address (which is publicly available anyway) versus knowing what that person would actually say about you. It’s like supplying a bad reference to a potential employer.
What would I prefer instead? Send me a great cold email. One which tells me why you’re reaching out, directs my attention to something, and suggests what you’d like as a next step. Provide proof, rather than claims (show me code, a blog post, a deck). And don’t start off by apologizing for sending me a cold email.
I’ve funded companies off of cold emails. I’ve taken coffees off of cold emails. I’ve sent (hopefully) thoughtful replies to cold emails. There’s nothing wrong with a solid cold email.