When Airbnb was getting started in 2008, the company’s founders met with seven top Silicon Valley investors. The founders were looking to raise $150,000 at a $1.5 million valuation.
“That means for $150,000 you could have bought 10% of Airbnb,” founder Brian Chesky wrote on Medium recently.
That 10 percent would be worth $2.5 billion today.
Instead, all 7 investors passed on the opportunity.
The rejections didn’t stop the founders. They kept at it, they found other investors, and went on to build one of the most valuable startups in the world.
Chesky recently shared those 2008 rejection emails on Medium (he omitted names of people and firms). There are two valuable lessons we can learn from this material.
The first is the obvious one: don’t give up. Even the biggest and best operations faced rejection early on.
But behind this lesson is another opportunity, a window into the art of rejection, from some of the world’s greatest rejecters. And I mean rejectors in the best possibly way. These are the top venture capital firms controlling billions in assets. Their job is as much about rejecting offers as it is accepting them.
In fact, they send a lot more rejection letters than acceptance letters. They meet with and reject some of the brightest, most talented people in the world. They are world-class rejectors. And these emails give us a chance to see how it’s done.