Last week I received a rejection email from YC for the winter batch. It’s not the first time I’ve been rejected, I had an interview a year ago and didn’t get in, but it’s the first time I’ve really felt the pain. What made it sting even more was the fact that the 6 other companies that applied from my co-working space all got interviews. Startups are all about beating the odds, we just beat the wrong ones. But there’s a silver lining:
For the first time in my life, I have a chip on my shoulder.
Over the last few years, I’ve read countless articles about entrepreneurs having chips on their shoulders. Investors look for it since it’s an indicator of persistance. When you’ve got something to prove, you’re more likely to blast your way to success. But how do you actually get this fire?
Some people have it as part of their personality. Others get it from being told they can’t do something and needing to prove their detractors wrong.
Me? I’ve never really had it. That’s not to say I haven’t been working really hard, just that there’s a gap between “hard-working” and “needing to prove something”. I’ve always been told that “you’ll do well in whatever you do”, and while I realize how lucky I am to have such a supportive group of family & friends, blind positivity doesn’t exactly light a fire under you.
But now I have it.
Instead of shrugging it off like any other rejection, this one was internalized. The picture above is the rejection email that I’ve taped on the wall next to my desk. I see it countless times throughout the day. And with a chip on my shoulder, I find myself more focused, thinking more clearly and getting stuff done. It’s been one of the most productive weeks of my life. And I love it. By no means is it the way I wanted it to happen, but at the end of the day, it’s been a huge net positive.
5-10 years from now, when the majority of people are using Tripzaar to plan their trips, I want this rejection to look ridiculous. For hindsight to be “how could anyone have thought this was a bad idea?”. That’s the goal I’m obsessed with now.
So thank you YC. Thank you for the rejection and lighting a fire under my ass. I have no hard feelings to you (or others that got the interview), and will likely apply again in the future. But I have every intention of using this rejection as my Leroy Smith.