How cold emailing got me in trouble.

Maybe spending too much time bantering in the LinkedIn comments was to blame, but I woke up and, for some weird reason, couldn’t think of anything but Open Banking.

So I disappeared and two weeks later, I’d resurfaced slinging a website with 60 Open Banking use case examples in a directory format. 

Context: everybody had been talking about the potential impact of Open Banking but no one could point me at how that looked like in real life, so I built a site to show this to people curious about using Open Banking in their business. 

Despite getting zero traffic to the Open Banking directory, I still felt like I could sell premium listings to Open Banking API providers in the directory. #MistakeNumberOne.

(Why I thought anyone would pay me to list their company in a ghost-town directory is still a mystery yet to be solved but the feeling I remember was, “I can cold email like crazy and that’s all that matters.”) 

So I:

  • Built a list of relevant companies
  • Identified the right people to talk to about the directory 
  • Fished for their email addresses online and shot my shot. 

A sequence or two later, the VP of marketing at Finicity, a Mastercard company, was expressing interest in listing on my ghost-town directory and asking how much traffic I had in my Open banking directory—and how much I charged.

That’s when I realised that cold emailing had put me in trouble again, watching yourself type “I have zero audience but I’ll charge you $503 to list on my site” will bring you back to reality, no matter how excited you are about an idea.

Needless to say, this campaign did not go very well 🙂

Anyway, that’s the power of outbound; new companies can test new value propositions, get feedback quickly, and know whether to go on or open the window and throw their startup out. While those with proven products can scale conversations with people in relevant target accounts.

If you’re here, you know the value of outbound too, that’s why I started this site, so Let’s connect.

I'm Gabriel Onyango--the person behind this blog. I've been a freelance writer for fintech companies for a while and on the side I cold email more than I should admit. I also sip Kenyan tea a lot. Email me at, say hi, share feedback, suggest topics you want deep dives on, etc.