Maybe you know the kind. It’s from someone you’ve never met, but it sounds like good news. They have an idea for new web thing. They know what you do, and they want your help. In fact, they want to cut you in on it, perhaps co-found this company. Control over the parts that matter to you. It’s a decent idea. Not mind-blowing, but lots of ideas seem kind mediocre at first right? It’s what you do with them, you think.
But the email is worded kinda poorly. Not a great sign for a first email, it seems like. Not quite spam, but it flirts with that vibe.
That’s what this poll is about.
It doesn’t matter if the email turns out to be legit or not. I just want to know what you’re next move is.
The poll question (and possible answers) are embedded on the site. Sidebar on largeish screens, somewhere down the tube on smallish screens.
I got the 4th vote!
Delete. Unsolicited emails like these are two a penny and I generally can’t be bothered to spend time following them up. Of course, if it was an unsolicited email from Chris Coyer, that would be different!
Coyier (excuse the typo)
It never hurts to have a chat, but as soon as I see the words “co-ownership” or “equity” I lose interest pretty rapidly.
Same here mate
Almost certainly delete. Almost always, it’s an ‘idea person’ who doesn’t know how much work is involved.
I get texts from second-hand friends and family about this sort of thing (grand ideas) every now and then.
I’ll point them to already-made solutions for inspiration, and offer some advice. Then I ask them, after they do a little homework and research, to provide me with a more detailed description of what exactly they want.
…that weeds out 99% of them.
A pretty elegant solution that I also try to employ whenever possible, especially when someone is telling me how their idea is going to be “Bigger than Facebook”, etc, etc.
Provide me some details and I may become your cheerleader- but I’m not going to get excited for vague, grandiose claims of your ideas merit.
In most cases, delete. However, since I use
[unique-identifier]@mydomain.comfor every site, I can usually tell the origin of the contact which does influence my decision regarding a reply. If it’s
[email protected]it gets auto-plonked. If it’s something like
[email protected]I give it a little more consideration.
… [email protected]… duly noted.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Spammer
Have a nice day!
And if spam starts coming to that address (assuming you can figure out my domain-name, something Chris may be able to do, but oughtn’t be visible to the public), I can just cut it off with a simple filter.
Delete. Only time I give these type of emails any consideration at all, is when they are referrals from trusted friends or clients. Otherwise “equity” just means – “I have a half baked idea, no money, and no idea what I am doing. Please solve all my problems for free.”
In the 20 yrs I have been doing this, I have been approached to build Amazon or eBay for a couple hundred bucks at least a dozen times.
“I just want to know what you’re next move is.”
Change that to ‘your’ right now!
As for my answer to the poll question, the email would get a swift delete.
Respond in a professional, business like fashion.
It’s a potential client after all.
The sender may not be a filthy spammer and may just be someone who doesn’t understand the system, or genuinely thinks you’ll find it a compelling offer.
Emailing them back outlining what you can and can’t do for them, costs you nothing but a few minutes.
…and then your email gets sold to god-knows-who. Before you know it, your spam box starts filling up by the hundreds. Those few minutes were very, very costly.
It’s a bit hard to say from your description, there’s more that goes into my assessment than you’ve described, some of which is detailed above. I’m between bin, investigate a little further before binning (which isn’t an option) and cautiously email back, with the expectation of it not developing as it goes further (much like Jeffrey, when you start talking about what needs doing, people start running, in my experience).
And some of that depends on how busy I am at the moment. We’ve just taken on four new clients so if it arrived today, bin is much likelier. If I’m just about to pat those clients on the back and no one has appeared to replace them, always a risk after all, the looking into this new offer becomes more likely.
That said – new startupville – no thanks. Not my thing. But that won’t stop me talking about doing it with a different funding deal in place.
I would do a quick research on the name/domain of the sender before making any decision.
Startupville? Been there. Done that. Have the T-shirts, mugs and battle scars. Never again.
I’m so thankful that my marriage survived.
Ignore it if it’s asking for cash or equity injection.
Consider answering it if it isn’t <_<
Haha, I guess I am the only one in the world that would Jump right in, ‘startupville here I come.’ I am all about expanding my knowledge so worst comes to worst, its a piece I can put in my portfolio.
I suspect that’s an age/experience thing.
In this field, 10 years ago I was desperate to expand my portfolio. Nowadays, less so. I still learn things in most projects but they’re detail things rather than big portfolio changing things.
25 years ago I was young enough to work for fun and not worry about getting paid and hope for a huge pay-off in 1-3 years. Now, I’d rather not take the risk and rather keep a roof over my head. And although I’m based in the UK, I’d rather not take my medical conditions into homelessness. If I lived in the US, I’d really not like to take my medical conditions into penury.
Please don’t take that as saying you’re wrong: if such an offer comes along for you, grab it and go for it, and all the best. But it’s a salutary example of how time changes us and the calculus of risks that we’re willing to take.
Yeah, I have a steady, rewarding job. But I just turned 30 and think about all the things I could have done by now/can be doing if I just took more risks. I mean nothing is going to make me quit my job without a guarantee of a paycheck, but at this point I’m not quick to snub my nose as anyone who seems serious and looks to bring skills and knowledge to the table. Personally, I’m full of ideas, I’d likely be that naggy email guy, I want someone with the boring business knowledge to hold things together while I bury myself in the much more enjoyable development process.
These type of emails usually go straight to the bin for me, unless I’d be looking for a job.. then it might be interesting to see where it goes.
Also, “worded kinda poorly” suggests that the author didn’t take the solicitation seriously. So why should I? Also, I’d likely have to put up with the same poor communications throughout the project. No thanks.
Delete it. This is an idea person, why do I need him? Even if it’s the most amazing idea in the world (xOMG, Facebook but pink instead of blue!!!11one) – I can build it myself or with other people that actually bring a skill to the table.
Maybe so you can come up with better ideas together than you could by yourself.
Forward to project manager.
Read it and discuss the idea with no intention of working on it.
If the idea is actually good/decent, there may be something of value in the conversation, regardless of my intention to help or not. If the idea is just “I want to build another Facebook”, it’s not a good idea and can be tossed in the trash.
If they want an NDA signed before discussing the idea any further, they’ll get a polite declination.
There is little harm discussing ideas with people. I’ve consulted several people on their ideas who went on to build out their idea and implement some of the details we had discussed. The people who truly believe in their idea will find a way to get it built, with or without your help. I see no harm in improving their idea before they go through with it.
Also keeping in mind not everyone is fluent in English. They may have difficulties communicating because their native tongue is German. (I’ve had this happen! We ended up getting one of his friends in the conversation to help translate.)
Heh, I signed an NDA once. Guy wanted to sign me into his LLC, but that was a bit too much too fast. It’s ridiculous how crazy people get about their baby before its even begun to materialize. Possibly the best products come from people who made it for friends not expecting it to be a “thing”.
I’ve jumped into those before.
Had a guy offer to put me up in his home when I was in college if I help him run and maintain this “eBay killer”. I even went to his house and met his family. Luckily I passed on that “great opportunity to get in on the ground floor”, and as far as I know he lost his house after taking out a second mortgage to fund this thing.
The second time was when a business-minded pastor wants to start a Web design firm. At the time he was running a decent local print shop selling ads. He knew nothing about Web design/development/server management/marketing/pricing. I worked as a “partner” for one month (right after college, couldn’t find work elsewhere) and got zero clients because most of our time was spent over-analyzing our “brand”. Parted amiably and to no one’s surprise.
I haven’t gotten hit up with partnership offers and brilliant ideas in the past 5 years (though East TN isn’t exactly Silicone Valley) so I actually wouldn’t be immediately opposed. But yeah, most people who approach you – “I’ve got this fantastic idea” – aren’t doers… you should know what you’re willing to do and not do, and if your “partner” can’t/won’t take up the slack, this project will not stay afloat for long.
Interesting, I never thought “delete email” would be the most selected question.
For unsolicited I would definitely toss it in the bin. The writers inability to articulate the project tells me they don’t have a strong vision for what they want.
In my experience that’s going to lead to endless revisions as the scope of the project expands with each new day. It also means that keeping momentum/direction is likely going to fall on my shoulders… and for someone I don’t know? I’m not sure I want to take that bet.
Different story ENTIRELY if it’s with someone I’ve worked with previously or otherwise have some sort of professional relationship with.
Assuming it’s not an outright ridiculous proposal (the next Uber for Facebook Amazon disruptor) I’d always willing to hear people out to determine if the idea actually has some real potential. There’s very little to lost in exchanging a few extra emails.
I’d further inquire, but if they’re asking some crazy over-the-top project and they aren’t a firm with a big name, I’ll politely decline.
If they’re a client who knows what they’re after and knows what the work is worth, we can certainly discuss things and reach a proposed timeline if the project goes forward.
I not only delete the email, I also mark it as spam, which should have been another option in the poll if you’d ask me.
What I find even more interesting is what such an email should contain for you to hear out their idea?
I mark as spam and delete. Probably a good 95% of those are spam just waiting to string you along and/or sell whatever info they gleam out of you. The few my project manager has entertained has usually ended up with some endless cycle of revisions. The solicitor doesn’t know the first thing about web design or development and we end up being the ones that steer the conversation/discussions. Just terrible. Had to back out at that point. Sucks way too much of our energy and time when we could be productive on other more legit projects with fewer headaches in the long term.
I’d be sceptical. Probably delete. Cause, there are those nifty contact forms I place on any kind of site I use, and if they’re not using it ..
.. yeah well, there is also SOME e-mail protection in place. And I do NOT use my actual e-mail address in the open. Even the one I’m usually adding to my comments is just a forward to my regular mailbox.
Nah, no spam for me ;)