Just Got Rejected-These 9 Inspiring Stories Will Help You to Bounce Back
Just Got Rejected-These 9 Inspiring Stories Will Help You to Bounce Back
Credit: Unsplash

There is a multitude of struggles that are involved when running a successful business venture. The road to glory is both hard and tiring, and sometimes they may end up taking a toll on you to the point of throwing in the towel. One of those struggles is facing rejection. You should not drive yourself nuts and make any hasty decisions just because someone thinks you’re no good. You might have heard of prominent unicorn companies, the billion-dollar ventures that are always trending and making a huge impact in the world of startups. What you are not aware of is how much struggle the founders had to go through to get to that pinnacle of success. Here are insights to some of the iconic companies that had a rough start and were rejected multiple times before finally landing their elusive deals.

FanDuel (Rejected 80 Times by Investors)

This US-based fantasy sports provider is a relatively unknown company that came up from grass to grace. Before its rise to glory, this company was known as Hubdub, and it started from humble beginnings in Scotland. They underwent quite a huge number of rejections before they landed their first investors. Now FanDuel is the second largest billion-dollar fantasy sports company in the US.

Adaptive Insights (Rejected 70 Times by Investors)

This is one of those unicorn companies that also faced massive rejections from potential investors before defying the odds and becoming a billion dollar company. The founder Robert Hull advice startup founders not to pay close attention to the rejections but focus on their business. He says that many people were vocal on how his business would fail. He also goes ahead to give an account of how he had to sacrifice and go for months without a salary. At one point the struggle became unbearable that Hull considered selling the company and that is when he got his first investor who offered 7 million dollars to keep the company going. He is now a respected businessman all over the world.

Hotmail (Rejected 20 Times by Investors)

Hotmail was developed by Jack Smith and Sabeer Bhatia in 1996. Bhatia came up with the idea of sharing emails through browsers that were both fast and convenient. Since the idea was not tested, every investor they approached turned down their offer with no interest at all. Despite rejections from some credible investors, they did not lose hope at all. They knew the idea was great and all they wanted was funding to keep it even better. After an intensive and extensive search, they came across Draper Fisher Jurvetson who agreed to offer them a total of $300,000 for the project. They finally finished the project, and Hotmail became one of the most widely used mailing platforms across the world. It had millions of users in no time most of whom were Americans and later the world. Its popularity made Microsoft make a move and agreed to purchase Hotmail in 1997 for a whopping $400 million.

Harry Potter (Rejected by 12 Publishers)

Harry Potter series of novels is one of the most sorts after children’s books of all times. Dubbed as the world’s first billionaire author, JK Rowling spent five good years putting the series together.  She thought that the hardest thing was finishing the series of books but she didn’t know the number of rejections she would go through before getting her first book published. Now, she is a well-known writer, and her books live on through films, a theme park and a couple of video games. If JK Rowling had given up following the rejections, we would never have the coveted series of Harry Potter books.

Airbnb (Rejected 7 Times by Investors)

This is one of the biggest unicorn companies in the 21st century. Airbnb an online website that enables you or anyone to list your bed and breakfast service. The founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia started it with nothing but a couple of dollars, after some convincing, they landed their first customer. The founders went through a lot of criticism some of which were posted online. The first person they approached to invest gave the idea a pass, but that didn’t stop them from looking for more investors. Airbnb founders overcame all these challenges and went to be one of the biggest ventures of the century after being rejected 7 times.

Apple (Rejected 5 Times by HP)

Apple is one of the most successful companies of all time and has its products spread across the globe. Before Apple became a household name and a multi-billion dollar tech company, they went through
quite some struggle. Its founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak made their first computer from parts they had borrowed from Nolan Bushnell, the Atari founder. After developing the computer, Steve and his co-founder offered Bushnell a third of their company at $50,000 but he had his priorities were elsewhere, so he decided to decline the generous offer. Wozniak then tried to offer the design to his employer HP(known as Hewlett Packard at that time) for absolutely free but they declined the offer five times. Apple went on to be the company behind the iconic products like the iPhone,iPod, and iMac. It is now the most valuable company in the world and continues to make headlines with its unique lines of products. This company is one of the best companies that revolutionized technology.

Dropbox (Rejected Twice by Y Combinator)

The owner of Dropbox, Drew Houston, attended MIT and wanted to get in the coveted Y Combinator program but was rejected twice. The first time he came up with the SAT prep idea and he’s rejection letter noted that “There has to be something you can build better than an SAT prep company.” He then spent a year trying to come up with the idea that will get him direct entry to the Y Combinator. He later made a third application with the Dropbox idea that would put an end to uploading or emailing attachments. This finally got him the opportunity he wanted, and now Dropbox is one of the most valuable and widely known companies in the world. Drew Houston is one of the youngest billionaires in Silicon Valley. If he had quit after the rejections, we would never have come to interact with the simple way of file sharing.

Honda (Rejected by Toyota Motors)

The founder of Honda Motors Soichiro Honda had a passion for cars and parts during his young age. He went to Tokyo and started working in an auto shop as a cook. This is because he lacked the formal education that would enable him to work as an engineer. Seeing how passionate Soichiro was about cars, the auto shop manager decided to give him a try. Soichiro proved very worth it and spearheaded the success of the auto shop that he was appointed as a manager in one of the branches. He started developing a new piston ring, but none of the directors approved his project.

So he left the auto shop and a few years he completed his invention. He then approached Toyota motors to sell them the idea, but they turned him down claiming that the piston ring was substandard. After being disappointed a couple of times, he gave up and started attaching a motor to bicycles. The idea proved worth it, and he sent letters to 18,000 motorcycle shop owners, and only 5,000 of them responded. He then started importing the motorcycles to Europe and USA. He later ended up building a multi-billion dollar company called Honda Motors that has become popular around the globe.

Google (Rejected When Trying to Sell Itself for $1 Million Dollars)

While developing Google, the owners Larry Page and Sergey Brin were studying at Stanford. They thought that this project was taking too much of their time and they wanted to sell it so that they can focus on their education. They approached Excite’s CEO George Bell with an asking price of one million dollars and he was too quick to reject the offer. George Bell later approached the two entrepreneurs and offered them $750,000 which they refused and instead asked him to add a little more for investment but not to buy it out. Without any word, Bell walked away.

That was when five months later two companies agreed to inject in a whopping 25 million dollars and Google went on to be one of the world’s biggest and most successful businesses that continues to make big strides around the world.

The above true business experiences are supposed to remind you that when someone says “No” to your business, it doesn’t mean that it is all bad, but it’s just that they don’t understand it yet or unable to grasp its value.  These true stories show us that even the founders of iconic companies had to undergo some sort of disappointment before their dreams came true so don’t give up on yours.


  • Melvin Wong



    Melvin Wong is the founder of LiveKrowd, a platform that empowers singers and musicians to be booked for live streaming. He's an award-winning entrepreneur with global business experience in 17 countries covering U.S, Europe, Asia and South America. He started his entire startup all by himself in a small rented room with only $3,000 and grew it to an eventual acquisition. He is proud of his startup’s diversity, where he hired about 100 people from 19 countries.