How to Pitch Startups
There are a lot of rules, guidelines, and pieces of advice when it comes to writing a cover letter. Unfortunately, much of it doesn't apply to startups. Startups are grassroots, small teams, and unlikely to use resume Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). They're more interested in atmosphere and team dynamics than they are with "professionalism." As such, different rules will apply for your cover letter.
First of all, personality is more important than anything else. Be funny, be personable, show them that you're a good fit. While you still want to highlight your experience and education, mostly you want to sell yourself. Loosen up a little. Don't use buzzwords—let your voice come through.
With most cover letters, you want a 75/25 mix: 75% talking about yourself and your experience, and 25% talking about what you like about the company you're applying to. With a startup, it's more like 50/50. Do your research. Look at their website, their social media, and their reviews. Reference their products and use their voice. Look at how they conduct themselves—if their About page is formal, be formal. If it's casual, be casual.
Talk most about what you can bring to the table. Startups need to maximize personnel so that they can stay in business. Be upfront and clear about how you can help the company and what you're looking for when it comes to your future career.
Index of Cover Letter Examples