A mailing list can be a useful tool for founders in order to keep people updated on their progress and plans. A first-time founder and founders in general should update mentors, advisors, and investors regularly, but also be mindful of their time and not overburden them with unnecessary information. It’s important to be transparent and honest about the progress and challenges of the company and to clearly communicate any major updates or decisions.

This tool allows for mass communication and can be a convenient way to send updates, announcements, and other important information. However, it’s important to use a mailing list in conjunction with other forms of communication, mainly for the closest people, such as regular meetings and check-ins, and to not rely on it as the sole method of communication. A founder should also be mindful of the frequency of emails and make sure not to send too many or too few. Additionally, it’s important to ensure that the recipients have opted-in to receive the emails and to provide an option to unsubscribe.

Takeaway! Are there benefits of sending update emails? Absolutely! Consider it as:

  • A way for your mentors/advisors to help you solve problems.
  • No surprises; everything comes from you to them (remember that surprises are usually bad).
  • Letting close people celebrate your achievements with you.
  • Good news will spread faster and farther. After all, close people are the best promoters. Let them help you spread the word!

To ensure clarity, it is strongly recommended to create multiple lists to share the appropriate information with the correct people and select the appropriate frequency.

How many lists should I manage?

List for Mentors

We consider mentors all the people that are close to the founders but aren’t involved in your business day to day. This list can be used as a way to engage with them, and ask for help when needed.

This list is particularly handy when you interact with a lot of mentors in pre-accelerators or accelerators. When you are involved in such a program, you are trying to get a lot done, and being in the program you use a weekly frequency to get the most out of the mentors. After you are done with the accelerator, sending an update once a month is sufficient.

As Alex Iskold said in his blog:  “The key thing in the mentor update is to ask for help”. This channel you create is your way to keep these people along the journey with you. Ask for help, explain what you are struggling with, be vulnerable and open about what you need. In order to have more chance to a better response, don’t be afraid to use mentions in the text such as the mentor’s name. In this way, the ask is not generic and it’s addressed to specific mentors.

In your mentor updates, make sure to include shout-outs to thank specific mentors for their help. Provide updates on key performance indicators (KPIs) and milestones you’ve achieved, a short bullet list of non-quantitative wins, a short list of struggles and requests, and a set of your upcoming goals. This will help your mentors better understand your journey and successes, as well as any challenges you may be facing, so that they can provide the best support possible. Additionally, these mentor updates will also help keep you accountable and motivated to continue working towards your goals.

List for your Team

When you first start a company, you are just a few co-founders, it can seem like everyone knows everything that’s happening. However, it’s still a good practice for the CEO to send regular updates to the team, even if there are only two people.

As an early-stage startup, you should set goals and make progress every week. Sending a weekly update email, holding a weekly meeting, and setting weekly goals can help your team stay aligned and achieve their objectives.

As your company grows and expands, you may want to adjust the frequency of these emails to monthly or even quarterly.

The content of the email should be similar to the mentor’s email. Give shout-outs and thanks to employees who did a great job, summarize key performance indicators (KPIs) and successes, explain any struggles, ask for help, and set new goals.

List for Investors & Prospective Investors

Keeping your current investors up to date is absolutely mandatory. To do this, create one mailing list. Additionally, create a separate list for investors who expressed interest in getting to know you and seeing follow your evolution over time. They will have more faith in your capacity to carry out your plan as a result.

Proving yourself to investors is a great way to demonstrate your ability to execute over time. If an investor requests to be kept informed, ask if they would like to join your updates list. As these people are potential investors, name the list something straightforward, such as updates@company. Send updates every 4-8 weeks, but not more frequently than this as you want to have sufficient time to build up milestones to share. For a later-stage company, consider sending them quarterly updates. Avoid emailing any of these prospective investors separately; instead, communicate with them exclusively through this list. Doing so helps create a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out).

Show that you can set goals and strive to achieve them. Be honest about any difficulties you may encounter. Don’t just share the successes; be open about any challenges you face. Prospective investors may reach out with questions. If your revenue and customer numbers keep increasing, investors may want to meet again and potentially invest.

It is known that using mailing lists to engage potential investors is an effective strategy. It creates a sense of social pressure, as investors know that other people on the list are receiving the same updates and may act on them.

Do I need more lists to communicate?

We discussed four lists: mentors, team, investors, and prospective investors. These lists should be set up for every startup. Additionally, you can set up another list for communication with friends of the company—anyone who is not a mentor or investor but whom you want to keep updated.

In some cases, mentors can become closer to you and act as advisors. Alternatively, you can create a board for your company and create a separate mailing list for the board members.

It is a good idea to create a mailing list for your customers. This list can be used to inform them of important updates, share industry trends, and discuss upcoming product features.

How many emails should I send?

The frequency of emails to send as updates can vary depending on the stage of the company and the preferences of the recipients. As a general rule, it’s best to be conservative and not send too many emails.

A good rule of thumb is to send updates on a regular schedule, such as once a week, 3 weeks, or once a month. This can help ensure that recipients are aware of important developments and can plan accordingly, without feeling bombarded with too many emails. Additionally, it’s important to make sure that the emails contain valuable and relevant information, and not to send emails just for the sake of sending them.

If you have critical information, it’s better to reach out individually, a phone call, or a video conference can be more effective in these cases. It’s also important to be respectful of recipients’ time and not send emails outside of normal business hours.

It’s also important to note that sending too many emails can lead to recipients marking your emails as spam, or unsubscribing altogether, so it’s important to strike a balance between keeping them informed and not overwhelming them with too many emails.

Takeaway! When formatting and determining the frequency of updates, consider the following:

  • Place the most important challenges at the top.
  • Keep updates short to increase the chances of them being read quickly.
  • Make updates skimmable by using bullet points.
  • Aim to send updates every 3 weeks, unless major news or issues arise.

Should I maintain the list?

Managing communication with your team, mentors, and investors with mailing lists can be effective. Keep your lists up to-date and clean. Ask yourself why you are sending a particular piece of information, and be mindful of who you are sending it to.

Keep your updates short and sweet. Support your words with data. People don’t have time to read long updates. Start with the essentials. Be direct, ask for help, and engage and build an advantage for your startup through simple mailing lists.