In the very first week of this summer’s accelerator, the MIT delta v teams located at the NYC Startup Studio received a visit from Joel Wishkovsky, founder and CEO of Simple Contacts, a service that provides contact lens refills without a trip to the eye doctor. Joel spoke about a simple and valuable habit he adopted in the early stages of his company: writing a weekly company update email to his investors, advisors, and employees.
The email might include performance metrics for the week and other company news. The key is for the message to be clear and interesting to read, so updates — whether new hires, a deal signing, or even a company retreat — are all fair game if they create engagement among your most trusted community. It’s also important to be honest; your community will appreciate your candor and understanding the steps you as a CEO are taking to course correct when you encounter obstacles.
Joel outlined many benefits of sending this weekly update, from getting internal alignment with your own teams to building interest from potential investors:
The weekly email, when sent consistently, keeps your company’s greatest champions (investors, mentors, and other trusted advisors) fully up-to-date and excited about your progress. This allows you to have more meaningful conversations with your network and strengthen your relationship. As Joel puts it, “If I grab coffee with an investor, I don’t need to keep updating them on how Simple Contacts is doing because they’re reading our emails.”
Because recipients value getting these emails in their inboxes (Joel’s weekly missives have a 99% open rate), this provides a great opportunity for a company to ask its network for help by including a request, whether it’s looking for an expert opinion or finding candidates for a new job opening. “Every request I’ve ever made through these emails, I’ve gotten a response from someone offering to help,” he says.
The emails can also motivate investors to act faster by illustrating that they are building traction with a trustworthy partner; they can see that your company is “moving, signing deals, building cool products, and that the founder is transparent and communicative.” Investors can even set your pitches up for success if you send the latest email as a primer before your meeting. “All of a sudden,” Joel notes, “you have a conversation that starts at what matters rather than rehashing your business model.”
Stay Motivated and Accountable
Sometimes, it takes a hard deadline to stick to your commitments, and that’s okay, which is why Joel emphasizes that making the email a part of your weekly routine is a helpful habit that holds yourself accountable to personal performance goals and commitments, giving you an extra push to meet the numbers and expectations you set the previous week.
Additionally, by including your employees on the list of who you are sending to, CEOs can establish alignment within the company. Weekly updates ensure that everyone is working toward the same goals in the short-term and serve as another way to reinforce company mission over time, as well as how your team’s work contributes to that mission.
The NYC delta v teams came away from Joel’s talk impressed by the benefits of the weekly email and inspired to try it out themselves. delta v entrepreneur Sam Barnsley noted that the emails felt even more meaningful coming “from Joel himself, rather than being outsourced to another employee. We love the concept; it’s a really good practice and it means you have to be fully open with your colleagues and investors.”