These Entrepreneurs Built Their Fortune Only After Investors Rejected Them, Again and Again

startups investment

Believe in yourself is the most underestimated quotation of all times. As a startup owner, although, this might just be your mantra. There are several reasons why a startup fail, but there are a million reasons why they succeed. History has been a witness to many famous entrepreneurs, whom we know today as leading men of the tech industry, who have failed multiple times only to bounce back with more power to succeed. One such story is of Jamie Siminoff, Founder, and CEO – Ring.

When Jamie decided to try his luck on the famous fund-raising show ‘Shark Tank‘ in 2013, his then named company, DoorBot, was already churning out about $1 million an year out of sales and he had firm hopes to pitch in one of the ‘sharks’ to raise another $700,000 for his company. The irony of all, he thought his brainchild was worth mere $7 million.

His company, DoorBot made  a video doorbell which allowed one to speak and see the person at the door via a smartphone. This remote doorbell system which also acted as a security device system was inspired by the sheer fact that many a times burglars rang doorbells before breaking into the homes.

But what went wrong? When Jamie failed to answer the investor’s questions, one by one, the sharks dropped out, unimpressed. But one Mr. Kevin O’Leary decided to make an offer which wasn’t tempting. He offered a $7 million loan with 10% of sales until the loan was paid off. To ending his greed spree there, he asked for 7% royalty on all future sales and a forever 5% stake of the company’s equity.

So, how exactly did the boat sail? Well, the luck flipped when in November 2014, Jamie’s company, now renamed Ring, received an email from the billionaire businessman, Richard Branson. Richard was very enchanted with this new, fascinating device he saw on a vacationer on his island. The vacationer was directing a courier service boy for the delivery using his smartphone and the doorbell system. Inquisitive and charmed, Richard decided to meet the inventor.

After a grueling two hour long session of email exchanges, Ring managed to close up series B round of $28 million led by Branson in August 2015. The total net worth post the round was a whopping $60 million. Ring managed $61.2 million for round C, led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and with an add-on from Branson.

One thing led to another, and now Ring’s products are being sold in 93 countries through the world’s top retailers, including Home Depot, BesetBuy, and Target.

Let’s take another inspiring glance at super famous entrepreneurs who have made it big despite encountering failures.

Jack Ma: Founder and CEO, Alibaba

If there is one leader in the industry who understands the failure to its best, is none other than, Jack Ma. Founder of Alibaba has defeated failure at every step in his life. From learning English a decade ago to giving free tours to tourists, Jack Ma was rejected by KFC restaurant which eventually hired everyone who had applied, but him. Freshly out of the college, the richest man in China, was rejected for all 30 jobs that he applied for. Not only the jobs, the elitist of all schools on Earth, Harvard, rejected Jack 10 times. What a sorry state Harvard would be in now, not realizing the value of a humble Chinese man years ago!

In 1998, when Jack started Alibaba, he met with severe hindrances. For the first three years, the company did not yield any profits and the banks flatly refused to work with him. With no loans and payments pending, Jack established Alipay, a program which transferred payments in different currencies between international buyers and sellers.

Jack Ma in an interview recalled people’s reaction when he mentioned Alipay to them. He says,

The escrow service is about Alipay. It was a big decision, because for the first three years we didn’t do any business because there was no [way to do] payments. I talked to the banks. No banks wanted to do it. They said, “This thing will never work.” People didn’t like it. So many people I talked to at that time about Alipay, they said, “This is the stupidest idea you’ve ever had.” I didn’t care if it was stupid as long as people could use it.

With 400 million registered users, Alipay is China’s largest mobile payment company currently. There are speculations that it could topple over PayPal and if it does, one should not be surprised. Led by a true hero, Jack Ma is ruling China and may soon, with his determination and vision, may rule the industry worldwide.

Walt Disney: Producer and Entrepreneur

The man who turned every child’s childhood into shimmering magic, Walt Disney, was fired by the newspaper he worked for. He was asked to leave by the editor for not having enough good ideas and lacking imagination.

During WW2, Walt, and his Burbank Studio started making pictures for the training and propaganda of armed forces. Soon, after the war was over, he immersed in a full-time production of cartoon and short comedy films. With years of hard work and dejection, in 1955, Disney opened ‘Disney Land – The Happiest Place on Earth’ in Anaheim for $17 million.

Currently, Walt Disney Co is valued at $180.71 billion and Disney Land receives more than 10 million visitors each year.

Having mentioned two most successful yet most failed entrepreneurs, let’s draw our attention to 2 Shark Tank participants, who were rejected by the investors in the reel life, but did hit big in the real life.

Coffee Meets Bagel

Self-proclaimed women preferred online dating site, Coffee Meets Bagel left the show empty-handed. The dating site which aims to find a quality match for users every day using Facebook connection impressed Mark Cuban so much that he made the largest offer in the show’s history- $30 million to buy the company.

The sister trio of Arum, Dawoon and Soo Kang, appeared on the show offering the judges a 5% equity stake valued at $500,000. Despite being pleasantly shocked by receiving the offer from Mark, the sisters decided not to sell the company and exit empty handed. The larger than life offer of Mark Cuban made the audiences pay attention to the site, which managed to raise $7.8 million in round A funding.

Presently, the online dating site is generating traffic worth millions of dollars and is available on both iOS and Android platform as an app download.

Chef Big Shake

Shawn Davis entered the show, asking for $200,000 for a 25% equity stake of his company which aimed at capturing the vegetarian market. His brilliant idea was to cook foods with vegetarian products likes burgers with seafood instead of conventional meat.

The sharks found the idea too risky and pitched out of the opportunity, only to let angel investors seize it with $500,000 after the show. In just a year, the CBS foods grew to $5 million from tiny $30,000.


As the famous goes, failures are stepping stones to success, it’s all about getting it balanced between being optimistic and over-optimistic.

But, sometimes, one must be prepared for failures because before sunrise there is always a dark night. Here is what you must keep in mind to succeed when failure strikes.

  • Be prepared with all the data and other necessary statistics to ‘woo’ the investors and the audience. Jamie Siminoff committed this sin by not having enough data and statistics to back his marvelous idea.
  • There is always a buyer of every product, all you have to do is keep trying to find the customers who always knows his problem but doesn’t know how to solve his problem and your product could do it effectively.
  • Have faith in yourself. The most important trait is to have faith in self and have the trust that your idea and your abilities will make you fly high. Jack Ma toiled and went after his dream, despite being rejected from the best in the world.
  • Investors are not always right, and that’s why they always believe only 2 funded startups out of 10 will give returns.NO one in this world, but you, can judge the real potential of your product.
  • Be perseverant. Success comes with hard work and no breakdown must let you down.
To Top