4 ways i handled rejection as an entrepreneur

The other day I was reading how AirBnB was rejected by 7 investors. Ben Chesky went ahead and posted the 7 rejection emails of course hiding the source but the message was clear. Some were out right NO. Others were regrets as travel did not fall in their thematic areas while others doubted the market for AirBnB. Look at them now.

Rejections are hard. I cannot remember the number times I received emails of rejections or calls of rejections. It got to a point where I was just happy that they took time to read my proposal. I have also been granted audience with CEOs and managers and got rejected on my face. Ouch, right?

Are there lessons I learned from these rejections?


When I started my business, I got too excited and I went ahead and pitched the idea and sent proposals of the idea to hundreds of people. Most of them did not respond but the few who did encouraged me to do a prototype and approach them with a working prototype.

Some directed me to other organizations that would work with my company while some pointed out what was wrong with my proposal and approach. Others wanted me to get a team while others suggested changes in my business plan. All these feedback was good for me as it helped grow as an entrepreneur.

It was never a NO

When you are starting up, a rejection is an automatic NO. Since I received so many of them, I stopped seeing them as a NO, but as a maybe or a later. I have learned to take NO as ‘I am not ready yet’ I have learned to hear ‘we do not have a budget now…’ instead of a NO. In my mind, they mean ‘refine your idea then come back’ instead of a NO.

This has taught me to leave their offices with a spring in my walk and determination to go back and refine my plan, improve my product and work on all the feedback that I received.

It’s not me, it’s them

I am an entrepreneur! I believe in myself. I believe in my product. How dare they not see what I can do! All these thoughts run in my mind whenever I get rejected. However, in most cases, it was never about my great idea. Maybe the investors had already invested in the same business. Maybe my product did not fall in line with what they do. Maybe they were not ready to take on such a small project at that point in time.

I never gave up. I still went on to improve my product.


Have you ever just sent proposals to every venture capitalist address you came across? You deal with clean energy and you sent a proposal to VCs who deal with maternal health? Well, it happened to me when I started. This has taught me to really research who I should send a proposal to. Do they fund companies like mine? Are they a good fit with my company? Do I like what they have invested in before? Will they change the vision of my company in their quest to get back their investments?

All these questions have helped me narrow down the individuals and companies that I can approach for a possible partnership.

How else have you handles rejection?