How to find ceo email addresses for free if you’re a digital marketing agency

We spent several months trying to find CEO email addresses so that we could send introductory emails and pitch Prelo to decision makers.

We had to do this completely free of charge and yes, I know this is kind of par for the cause when you are bootstrapping 😥

This blog was something I’d wanted to write for some time, so here it is. Like all of my blogs, this is coming from my personal experiences based on our previous Startup.

Stop Press, we’ve got some big news! We’ve started generating revenue. It’s extremely weird to type here, but in 5 years this is perhaps my biggest single achievement in Startup. 📣

If you’re reading my blog for the first time welcome to Startup Insights 🤗 *virtual hugs*. I used to be the founder of a job matching AI platform for jobseekers and Startups.

One of the things we tried to do was to find CEOs and founders looking for talent, especially interns and recent graduates.

Before we get into this month’s blog, I’d love to connect with you!

Soooo, let’s do it follow me on twitter (my DM’s always open) 📨

Find CEO emails addresses and create introductory email messages that will convert into sales for your business
Find CEO emails and create introductory email messages that will convert into sales for your business

5 Steps to finding a CEO’s email addresses

Back then, whenever I set out to create my list of email addresses for an outbound marketing campaign, I did it manually and followed a simple process. I always built a list with the sole intention of returning above 30% positive responses.

I followed 3 simple steps and I’ll list them down below:

1. I find Startups that are “likely” to be funded

2. Then I pick out the decision makers in those Startups

3. Finally, I create a number of email permutations

1. Find Startups on social media and gain easy access to CEO email addresses

Looking for funded Startups is perhaps the most arduous part of this process. So, I started by looking at data from LinkedIn and searched for Startups with 11 – 50 employees.

I figured that companies on LinkedIn with 1 – 10 employees were less likely to have been funded, I also found out that a broad search of companies with 1 – 10 employees returned way too much data, and I just didn’t fancy spending too many weekends going through the list.

So, aside from LinkedIn I also created a process to check twitter for funding announcements and general updates from the companies I had on my list. All of these processes can easily be created manually.

Buzz words I looked for were

  1. “Raised Seed Investment”
  2. “Series A, B or C”
  3. “Closed their round” / “Closed our round”
Use LinkedIn Company Search to find Startups by industry, location, company size and open jobs. Use this to find CEO email addresses.
Use LinkedIn Company Search to find Startups by industry, location, company size and open jobs

2. Categorize Startups by industry and location to target the right CEO email addresses

Now that you know where I find Startups, I’ll share my step-by-step approach of finding the Startups. I typically start with the industry I decide on an industry, let’s say marketing.

So, I open my LinkedIn standard account and type “marketing” in the search box (see image above)

This broad search will return a list of all the marketing companies available on LinkedIn with the word “marketing” in the company name or company description, therefore making the next step easy.

Then next step is to niche down, I choose specific cities, and search for companies with 11 – 50 employees.

This is a good company size. Companies with 11 – 50 employees are small enough to be a Startup but big enough to generate revenue

Then I double down on the industry option and choose “marketing & advertising“, if I feel that I want more data I’ll add “information technology” in my industry list.

Here’s the painful part, I manually go through as many of the result pages as my free account would allow me to and add this into a notepad.

3. Pick funded Startups to find CEO Email addresses

A good indication of a Startup that’s generating revenue or one that has received funding, is a Startup that’s actively hiring. So, I look for companies advertising jobs.

I setup my voice recorder and read out each company’s website address and/or telephone numbers, so that every time I click on the company profile on LinkedIn it shows up on my word document.

Using a simple voice to text tool, I convert the company email addresses to text. There are a few tools out there you can use to automate this, simply search on google to bring up a ton of tools some free ones too.

Here's a sample cut and paste from LinkedIn into text showing you Startups with open job adverts and potential Startups to identify CEO email addresses
Here’s a sample cut & paste from LinkedIn into text showing you Startups with open job adverts

4. Identify Decision Makers and CEOs in Startups and find their email addresses

Finding decision makers in Startups is fairly straightforward, I go through LinkedIn and find senior employees for my previously identified companies.

What I always found difficult was the manual process of getting that information from LinkedIn into a text format to create the email addresses I needed for my introductory emails.

Typically, when I set out to create a list, I look for decision makers with the job titles I’m sharing with you below.

Example employee job titles to look for:
1. Founder or CEO
2. Co-founder / CoFounder
3. Head of “something”
4. Director of “Something”
5. Managing Director
6. CFO or Financial Director
7. Global Head of “something”

This is where you need to do the “heavy-lifting” yourself. You can copy and paste the user information into a text editor like notepad.

You could also just use a similar process I described earlier and read the names of the decision makers into a voice file. Then convert the file into text.

My experience with some of these “voice to data” processes is that they are about 55% accurate, especially when converting less common names to text.

On the other hand, you could simply just pay a data analyst on Fiverr to do it for you.

5. The process of finding CEO email addresses

Once I have the list of the CEOs and decision makers, the final step is to find email addresses.

Creating permutations of email addresses is simple, there are a handful of combinations, and these are almost universally known.

What I do is to enter the first name and surname in quotes, then I’d add the word email or email address. Doing that for Joe Bloggs looks something like this:

  1. “Joe Bloggs” email address
  2. “Joe Bloggs” Prelo
  3. “Joe Bloggs” Contact Info

I have my email address everywhere and it’s relatively easy to find my email address, so I don’t have a problem with this, that’s what comes with trying to get Prelo in front of our customers.

There are a few useful permutations to find email addresses especially in Startups and small businesses. I know I’m not doing myself any favours by sharing this but I’m here to help you as a founder get your business and/or service in front of the right people

Again, if you were using Joe Blog’s details as an example to find email addresses it would look something like this:


What is also extremely useful is just reaching out on twitter, connecting and asking to have a meeting. The Startup community is extremely active on twitter and we’re a very helpful bunch.

Engaging with CEOs on twitter is a completely different topic and I plan on discussing this on another blog. Stay tuned by subscribing to my newsletter

I’ve seen a few companies register for our free product, then send me a sales pitch immediately after, this is not good. Please don’t do this, it’s a quick way to get your domain blocked and that’s not good for business.

Tired of pitching to Startups with zero budget?

👉 Try Prelo

Prelo‘s free version can help you find CEO email addresses of companies with big budgets. If you’re looking for a company that’s just raised investment, Prelo has their CEOs email address!

👉 Get Started For Free

💡 Access over 1 million highly curated decision makers from well funded Startups

😲 Discover Emails and Business Contacts in seconds

🎯 Send super targeted emails to well-funded Startups and 10x your revenue

Prelo is a self service prospecting tool built for agencies and consultants to find Startups with a budget
Use Prelo to prospect funded Startups and kickstart your marketing campaign

Until the next time.

Founder, Prelo
I tweet about helping founders win!