How to Ask (Me) for Help

Note: If I sent you this post in response to you reaching out, don’t feel bad. Read the post and use the template and I’ll be very likely to respond. I didn’t learn this method until someone taught me. I wrote an original post in 2012, this is the update.

I get ~100 inbound requests for help or advice each week. As Magma Partners grows, the volume keeps going up. Most of them are cold. The template I lay out below is how to get me to respond.

I have used this template to get advice from extremely, busy, successful people who I never thought would respond. I can’t remember a single person who has reached out using this method who I didn’t respond to. 

While I can’t guarantee that I’ll respond, if you want to improve the odds 10x that I’ll respond, use this template. I highly suggest trying it with other people too.

If you’re a founder, the absolute best way to get my attention cold is via a Magma Memo. Our investment team responds to 100% of these cold inbounds, and many of our best investments came in cold, including Albo, Yana, and many more. If you want to send an email or DM to say you’ve filled out the form, feel free, but the Magma Memo guarantees a response.

First, let’s cover what not to do:

Do you have 30 mins to connect?

This is almost always no, or no response. Why? I have too many calls already as it is with portfolio companies, our LPs, and some of our VC co-investors. 30 mins is a big time commitment because it really means at least 60 mins, between getting ready for the call and stopping what I was doing, and then after the call getting back into what I was working on. I just can’t do it anymore for a cold outreach, even if I want to.

Can you meet/do a call to pick your brain on X?

Same as above.

Hola, cómo estás?

This is mostly for Latin Americans, but if you send me a message that’s just “hi” and you don’t tell me how I can help, you’re extremely unlikely to get a response. Ask your question.

I’d like feedback or advice on my business…

If you don’t include any specific ask in your reach out, I can’t help you easily. It’s unlikely I’ll respond.

How can I contact you?

Again, mostly Latin Americans. You’re in contact with me if you found my email address, my Twitter DM or LinkedIn. Ask your question.

So how do you get me to respond?

  • Introduce yourself in 1-2 sentences
  • Tell me the decision you need to make and why you need to make it
  • Tell me the decision you are going to make, and why you think it’s the best option
  • Ask me if I would do anything different, or have any advice

It should be as short, and direct as possible. Write it out one time, then delete any extra information that’s not needed. If it’s more than about 200-300 words and you think you can’t get it any more concise, consider putting a 100-200 world Too Long Didn’t Read (TL;DR) at the top, followed by the full explanation at the bottom, but try to avoid this at all costs.

How should you ask me for help: An Example

Here’s an example of one that I got that I responded to, with a few details changed to protect the person who asked the question and the investor.

Hi Nathan,

I’m Founder X (with link to LinkedIn), co-founder of Startup X (with link), a SaaS for industry X. We have $500k ARR, mostly in Argentina, Chile and Peru. We started in 2018. The pandemic has helped us grow 2x in the past year, but we haven’t been able to raise from Mexican, Brazilian, or US VCs yet.

We have a term sheet from a family office that I don’t think will add much value other than money. They seem nice, but I don’t know them that well yet. They are asking for $4M valuation, a board seat and the following vetoes:

  1. Veto 1
  2. Veto 2
  3. Veto 3

We need the money to grow, and have about 5 months of runway left.

My decision is to accept the valuation and the board seat, but not accept the vetoes. We need the money. The valuation is not great, and I think they will be ok on my board, even though I would prefer not to have a formal board at this stage. The vetoes are a dealbreaker for me, because I think they could hurt our operations and this family office is traditional.

What would you do in my situation? Do you have any advice?

How I Responded to a Good Ask For Help

Hi X,

You’re thinking about it the right way. It will be very hard for you to raise more money with a SaaS of this size without having exposure to Mexico, Brazil, or maybe Colombia. I would try to avoid a board at this stage, but if you must, offer an observer seat, rather than a board seat , but I agree you should accept if a board seat is a deal breaker for them.

I would be ok with Veto 1, which is fairly normal and it’s likely many investors will ask for this, but agree you should not accept 2 or 3.

If I were you, I would try to close the deal with those changes, and then push to open Mexico, Brazil, or Colombia, and with some traction there, you will likely be able to raise at significantly higher valuations.


If you use this template, there’s a good chance I (and other people) will respond and hopefully provide some value. If I (or someone else) doesn’t respond, even using this format, it might be because we don’t have the expertise you’re asking for, we’re extra busy, on vacation, sick, or just missed your email.

Read this post in Spanish on the Magma blog.