FounderTalk · Rejection

A Founder\'s Constant State of Rejection

Hayden Tay Marketing and Customer Success Manager at ChargeSpot Wireless Power

November 13th, 2012

Hey everyone!

We\'ve released a blog post today and we want to share - Mike Greenfield
writes about his experiences facing constant rejection as a founder<>

Check it out, and let us know your thoughts! What\'s your experience with
rejection as an entrepreneur, and how has that affected you?


P.S. If you would like to help us out, give us an upvote on Hacker News<>!
The post title is "A Founder\'s Constant State of Rejection"

Nick Pontacoloni Online Media Sales and Marketing

November 13th, 2012

I\'ve been in direct sales my entire career from selling credit card processing door to door to multi-million dollar advertising deals.

Here are two things that have helped me conquer the fear of rejection:

1) The Law of Averages

2) Separating the I from the O

1) The law of averages is something to always keep in mind in every selling situation. Simply, the more times you pitch, the more times someone will buy. Your average can be 1 out of 20 (great) or 1 out if 100, but no matter what, there is a direct correlation between the number of pitches you make and the the number of deals you secure. As you mature and learn from experience your batting average goes down, but no matter what there will always be a 1 to many correlation. Accepting that and knowing that every pitch gets you closer to a deal is motivating. The more times you get rejected, the closer you become to securing a deal. It\'s a law for a reason.

2) In business you have to separate your individual life, personality, fears and inhibitions from your professional life. No one typically rejects you as a person. They may reject your idea, stage, revenue model, customer base or general market. Try hard to separate your I-Individual from your O- Organization. You will always have friends and family who believe in the individual. The organization should always be second to family and health. Let people reject your organization and don\'t take it personal. Accept the feedback, learn from it and pivot if necessary. Its not about you personally.

On Nov 13, 2012, at 5:22 PM, Jia Jiang <> wrote:

Seth Kaplan Healthcare Technology Executive, Product Manager, Enterprise Architect, IT Strategist and Intrepreneur

December 8th, 2012

Don\'t know if it helps but when I used to sell tv\'s in high school and college, being rejected was such a part of the norm you actually expected to hear "no" before anything else. It\'s part of any sales process that unless you ever actually had a job with the title "sales", a little desensitization is definitely a good thing.

But I would make one small adjustment to your thinking process. Look forward to getting your first "no" so you can learn what sales people call how to "overcome the objection".

Just ask the nay say-ers why the said no (use a survey or another tool if you can\'t just ask outright for technical reasons) and list them out. Then come up with one or more different tools for overcoming each objection type. One size definitely doesn\'t fit all.

Some common objections are:

"I can\'t afford it" - then you could push a free version (aka the freemium model)

"I don\'t need it" - you could tell them to try it for 30/60/90 days for free and then decide (the shareware model)

"I need permission to buy it" or "I need a second opinion" - thats someone that needs an ego boost. you could pump them up by saying they\'ll be a rock star if they use your stuff (in the office or with their friends). But if they\'re not convinced, return it for their money back (or discount or whatever) (the no-risk guarantee)

Anyhow, rejection "therapy" is cute. But I would use rejection as an opportunity to work that muscle to learn how to overcome the objection. All sorts of self help books on this stuff too.

For what it\'s worth anyhow...


-- Seth

On Dec 8, 2012, at 1:20 PM, Sam Feller <> wrote:

Geoff Phillips Entrepreneur and Outdoor Adventurer

December 13th, 2012


Your post is dead on. It is all a numbers game. A zero sum numbers game
where the value of lost time is huge. What we all need to do is look for
ways to prioritize our efforts and maximize the wins in the game.

The way I focus my effort is to evaluate each potential sale by two
factors: "Probability of Occurrence" and "Probability of Success".

"Probability of Occurrence" relates to the question of is this even a real
potential deal versus a potential client just window shopping.

"Probability of Success" relates to how closely what I am offering is to
what the client needs/wants and how stiff the competition is.

The product of these two factors tells me how hard to work this potential

For example:

- Having a 100% Ps on an opportunity with a Po of 1% means I can
definitely win this deal if I can get the client to make a purchasing
decision. Sometimes this means finding the real decision maker.

- Having a 100% Po (meaning that this is a very real and imminent
deal) and a Ps of 50% (meaning that there is only one other credible
competitor and we are roughly equal in capabilities) tells me that I need
to find a way to discriminate my offering from my competitor�s in a way
that is meaningful to the potential client. Sometimes this means strengthen
the client relationship, sometimes highlighting my offering�s capabilities
where they are strong vs. my competitor�s weaknesses, and sometimes cutting
the initial price.

I find that using this very simple approach allows me to concentrate on the
real deals that I have a chance to win and to quickly cut bait on the deals
that are never going to happen or the deals that are slanted toward my

Doing this allows me to work the numbers game and focus my limited time on
the deals that really matter.



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Alan Peters VP Product and Technology at BusinessBlocks

December 12th, 2012

Hey Jia

I would consider myself having gotten over this -- well, in business

Years ago I was bootstrapping a service business. I had referral
customers, but I really wanted a predictable scalable model for generating
business - and part of my model included working a direct call list of cold
leads I would buy. I would call up marketing executives, navigate to the
right person, wrangle my way to a meeting, work towards a proposal, pitch
them, and close.

Hearing "no" -- sometimes clearly, sometimes subtly, sometimes rudely --
over and over at every stage of that funnel was part of the game.

Facing this if you\'re new to BD (I started as an engineer) can be daunting.
Plus I\'m a nice guy and always cared a little too much about what
everybody else thought about me.

Here\'s what did it for me:
Every day my walk to work took me across the line of day-laborers on Cesar
Chavez street hustling up work rain or shine. And then past the
shoe-shiners on Market St hustling up one shine after another - with a
smile on their faces even after being on their feet all day.

They always inspired me. Thinking, "if these people can bust their ass to
get business every single day -- then I can surely muster up the
wherewithal to hustle up some business from the comfort of my own office."

I started to really enjoy the numbers game -- being ready to hear "no" 100
times in a row. Working the funnel, reading a situation, thinking on my
feet, sharpening my game, honing my story. Now it\'s fun.

The business became a 7 figure consideration that I started by stuffing
envelopes on my kitchen table.

My advice:
Find your inspiration, strap on your crash helmet, and jump in. And again.
And again. And again. You just might learn to love it like I did.


Hayden Tay Marketing and Customer Success Manager at ChargeSpot Wireless Power

November 13th, 2012

Oops, forgot to mention this, but Mike is also a member of FounderDating!
You can check out his profile here:

If you have a great personal story to share about your entrepreneurial
journey, email me and we might be able to feature you next!

On Tue, Nov 13, 2012 at 10:47 AM, Hayden Tay <>wrote:

Joshua Butner Founder / Partner at Vulk

November 13th, 2012


I would have to say- for me- the ultimate rule for getting over fear of rejection- in any scenario- is to know what you\'re presenting/selling/creating inside and out. This not only conveys your competency but also your passion about whatever \'it\' is.

Secondly, I\'d have to tie into my first and emphasize that you be passionate about your product/service/project and make certain that you are conveying that. People will remember your passion when they need to recall who you are. Even if their opinion of your product/service/project wasn\'t the greatest, your passionate presentation will leave an indelible impression.

Lastly, experience rejection. You have to know your enemy. Experiencing rejection allows you to better understand what your weaknesses may be- whether they are in your product/service/project or in your presentation. Each bit of information you learn will help you to conquer rejection. Remember: practice makes perfect.

Joshua Butner

Clynton Caines SharePoint Developer at Discover Technologies

November 13th, 2012

Great question.

First, I totally relate to Mike\'s article. Working for the man can often
be a torture you endure to keep the family fed. On the other hand,
"selling" your own startup can be its own special kind of hell -
especially for (us) introverts.

A mentor gave me this advice to help overcome stage-freight and
rejection-anxiety: Try to picture the complete surroundings in your mind
before any "sell" - sales call/presentation/social event/meeting/etc -
even better if you can do a quick run-through before the crowd arrives.
If they\'re already there, then try to give impromptu mini-pitches to
anyone who will listen - which for me, sheds nervous energy.

I can\'t say that I ever "got over" my fear of rejection, but I try to
always remember one thing: I am the best at what I do! See if that helps
you too...

Good luck,

Jia Jiang Entrepreneur, Author and Keynote Speaker Who Turns Rejection On Its Head

November 14th, 2012

Thanks everyone for sharing some really good points.

Hayden, this Rejection Therapy idea is fantastic. I want to give it a shot and have some fun!

Now, if the aim is to make a crazy request and get rejected by someone everyday, and thus desensitize oneself from the pain, what are some of the requests you can think of?

Jia Jiang
(919) 816-5611

On Nov 14, 2012, at 12:26 AM, OwnerAide <> wrote:

Jia Jiang Entrepreneur, Author and Keynote Speaker Who Turns Rejection On Its Head

November 26th, 2012

Thanks, Geoff. This has been a surreal experience. I want to thank everyone for engaging with my original question and inspired me to do this.

Jia Jiang
Twitter: @jiajiang

On Nov 26, 2012, at 7:18 PM, gphillips <> wrote:

Alexander Ross Head of Business Development at Verifide

November 28th, 2012

Surreal because you found some success and recognition by trying to get rejected? That is pretty funny...

Just saw your PM exam video and that was pretty damn funny too.

Keep up the good work, I totally respect what your doing...


On Nov 26, 2012, at 10:20 PM, Jia Jiang <> wrote: