The game of "No"

It's beating dead horses but since there are many 1st-time entrepreneurs born every single second, VCs will blog about the topic every once in a while, and that's good for the industry I think.

The latest one is by David Cohen, co-founder of TechStars, titled “No” Doesn’t Mean “You Suck”. Most founders that make it to talk to VCs are brilliant people. May of them had gone to great schools such as Stanford, Berkeley or Harvard. Some of them had worked in techs for years, reaching certain annual salary levels.

The No's that these founders with great background had received prior to their entrepreneurship were at a relatively low level, unless they were in sales position. Chances are when they became entrepreneurs, they'd be shocked by the No's they received.

As a past corporate engineer, entrepreneur and now a VC, I'd roughly rank the "No" rate as follows:

  1. Skilled engineers applying for tech jobs: 2/5
  2. Experienced FAE getting products to be designed into clients' platform: 2/3
  3. Tier-1 MBA graduates getting a job in management consulting: 3/4
  4. Experienced sales getting corporate clients to signed multi-year SaaS contracts: 4/5
  5. First-time entrepreneur getting funded by VCs: 19/20, or lower

So it's basically a lot of No's that you will hear as an entrepreneur. Serial entrepreneurs know that very well so they're calmer when being declined.

If you still couldn't help but feel insulted, remember that VCs get No's all the time as well, whether it's from a hot startup that every VC is fighting to get in or from a potential fund investor. It's just the nature of this business. This is a game of "No".

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