After my first round of raising capital and not succeeding, I had a feeling of failure. I’d spent months reaching out to investors and constantly rejected for various reasons. After assessing the failure, I came to two very important conclusions:
- I had given the power for someone else to judge me and decide my fate
- That is a power I would never give to anyone again
Being an Entrepreneur is hard enough. You have to build not only a product but a brand from scratch, figure out your customers, a sales cycle, what marketing works for you, and build a team. All of that is NOT easy by any stretch of the imagination and by the time you are done, you will have learned so much it will change your outlook on life.
Then you hear these great stories of venture capital and becoming the next Facebook. As you throw your hat into that arena, you then give power to people to judge you and your accomplishments, people who despite having access to large sums of capital could not hold a candle to the flames of your passion or ingenuity. To be clear, VCs are intelligent people, but there is a certain spark that makes someone an Entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurs, important fact. You are the genius behind your start-up, and what your vision is something that cannot be mimicked by any amount of money. In others words, who you are and what you do invaluable. Do you fully understand what that means?
So when I applied to accelerators, I applied without giving two sh*ts. Except for when one day an accelerator actually wanted me to come in for an interview. Omg, what? So I went in for their initial screening…and I made it past the first round? Woah, what’s going on? Went back for a 2nd round and…..they want me back for another? Ok seriously, where are the cameras?
The third and final round was pretty epic. It was fast paced interactive 2-hour pitch to a room of really smart people. Btw if you are doing 2–5 minute pitch nights, you are probably can make better use of your time. My partner and I left feeling great — we got to meet great people and throughout the process gained a lot of valuable information and insight. Then there was this long wait to see if we were accepted.
What I had realized is that I had given myself to the idea of getting in and to finally be accepted by the start-up world. And in that, I had broken the promise I made to myself of not giving the power for people to judge me and decide my fate. So, I sent myself a mock rejection letter, mopped for the night, and the next day decided to persevere in the only way I knew how…by continuing to build my business.
Why the mock rejection letter? Whether accepted or not, success depends on the ability for my team and I to execute — and I needed that power back.
I created my start-up because I wanted to change the world and have an impact. I didn’t create a start-up to:
- Gain recognition from investors
- Be accepted into an accelerator
- Be like everyone else in the ‘meritocracy’ of silicon valley
I have my own vision and ambitions that I started out with and still have without the above. Having money behind me is great and can help, but not having it should not break or define me.
Why should it? I have a fantastic team, several great clients and partners that I love to work with on a weekly basis. We are on the cusp of executing a completely new and unique marketing strategy, I have people asking to come on board the team because they see the vision. The business on the verge of owning media in NYC, with or without acceptance I have plans to be successful.
What I am trying to say that as an Entrepreneur, only 1% get accepted into this VC world. But that does not define who you are and how successful you will be. Always remember the genius or scrappy executioner that you are, and push forward towards your dreams without asking or needing permission.