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These Entrepreneurs Were Rejected Hundreds Of Times Before Bringing In Billions

These Entrepreneurs Were Rejected Hundreds Of Times Before Bringing In Billions
Forbes - Leadership - Entrepreneurs

Struggling with trying to raise money for your startup? If there is one big lesson to learn from the most successful startups and entrepreneurs, it’s not to let it get you down.
In fact, many of the most notable ventures that are now valued at or have sold for over $1 billion were turned down by investors dozens, if not hundreds of times.
Below are seven case studies were founders went from rejection to building something meaningful.

According to Formations Factory, Google’s cofounders didn’t find their startup days easy either. In fact, they approached an investor with the idea of selling the company for a measly $1 million so they could go back and focus on their school work. George Bell turned them down as both a buyer and investor.
Just five months later they raised $25 million. Today, it is one of the most valuable companies in the world. Imagine if they had given up on fundraising or sold it back then.
Adaptive Insights
According to Digital Trends, Adaptive Insights founder was turned down for funding by at least 70 VCs. No one believed people would start storing data in the cloud. Its founder had to cut off his own salary at one point, and considered selling.
In 2017 the company passed the $100 million a year in revenue mark. It was bought in 2018 by Workday for $1.55 billion.
Ring first appeared on Shark Tank as ‘Doorbot’. Only one shark (Kevin) made an offer. One that was so low it was turned down by founder Jamie Siminoff. He says he nearly cried that day. He lost count of the number of rejections from investors after that.
Recently Ring sold more than 144,000 units in a single day on QVC. The volume was worth $22.5 million in just 24 hours. Ring is now valued at over $1 billion, and has attracted investors like Richard Branson.

Viewlogic Systems

Will Herman says he struggled a lot and put in a ton of time trying to fundraise for his startup. He spent around 50% of his time just trying to get the capital needed for the venture in the first year. Just to get a check for $50,000.
That company ended up going IPO and selling for over $500 million. Then Will scooped back part of the company for just around $50 million, before rolling it up and taking it public again.
Now as an angel investor himself he has invested in almost 100 other companies.


Kevin Ryan first led DoubleClick which ultimately sold to Google for over $3 billion.
That was followed by MongoDB, with a $1 billion plus valuation that went IPO. He now advises many other companies and has been named one of the most influential New Yorkers in the venture space.
Yet, even despite having done now probably over 50 fundraising rounds he recalls some of those in which his companies were literally begging for money and were thin on runway.
Today, if anyone hears Kevin is raising, they’ll probably be breaking out their checkbooks before they’ve read the deck.

The Founder Institute

Adeo Ressi, the founder of the Founder Institute still recalls how it can take six to nine months of banging your head on the wall to just raise half a million dollars.
This is a guy who sold two businesses for $1 billion before he was 30 years old. Then went on to creating over $25 billion in shareholder value through the launch of 3,000 tech companies through the Founder Institute.


Kevin O’Connor says he remembers bootstrapping ICC back in college and just trying to raise $25,000 from friends and family. It soon became a $30 million company. He took that money to invest in ISS, which sold to IBM for $1.5 billion. Then he cofounded DoubleClick, which Google ultimately bought for over $3 billion.

Improving Your Chances of Getting Funded

Even if you’ve got a great business idea you can face hundreds of rejections and spend months of your life trying to scrape together a few dollars to keep the lights on and get to the next milestone. Yet, the return on your time and effort can be massive.
It is important to listen to feedback. In fact, many of the most successful entrepreneurs say they have learned to walk into investor meetings expecting a no, and just seeing the opportunity as a good way to get feedback and practice their pitches.
So, having the right mindset can really help insulate you and keep you in the game to achieve the big outcomes you are capable of. Yet, at every chance it is only wise to look for ways to improve your odds of getting funding, and better terms and investors.
That can include:
- Learning the fundraising process
- Learning what investors want and which are a good match for your offering
- Finding proven pitch deck templates to use
- Mastering email updates to prospective and current investors
- Getting introductions to investors
- Leveraging outside expertise to position your company to attract capital
Without a doubt the most critical factor at an early stage when you are fundraising is mastering the storytelling. This is essentially done by putting together a great combination of 15 to 20 slides that tell the story of your business in a compelling way. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash. Moreover, I also provided a commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400 million (see it here).


If you are considering raising money for a startup expect to hear no. A lot. Listen carefully to constructive feedback. Just don’t be deterred by the failure of investors to act immediately.
Just imagine if these entrepreneurs had given up. Focus on what you can do to improve your odds, and build a business that attracts investors. Then keep pushing ahead.

This article belongs to: Alejandro Cremades
Published: February 2019
Link to Article: Forbes

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