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Founder In Focus: This Is How You Score Acceptance Into 500 Startups

Disappointment is a given when running a startup. This is anything but breaking news. Every founder expects some things to not go as planned. Still, setbacks like being rejected from an accelerator program sting when so much personal energy and belief have been put into a project. It’s easy to lose a handle on a simple truth: the letdown isn’t personal, only the response is.



You might have heard of Drew Houston, or you might very well be using his product Dropbox. What you might not know is that he was initially turned down by Y Combinator. His rejection letter politely challenged him to build something better than an SAT prep company. Passing on his concept despite his evident talent proved to be arguably the greatest favor of Drew’s life. So before sinking into despair about coming up short, keep in mind that someone pushing you, a perceived enemy even, might secretly be the exact foil you need.


Karen Cheng perhaps says it best: “When someone tells you no, what they really mean is not yet.”



 Finbarr Taylor & Karen Cheng, Co-founder of Giveit100


A short time ago, I wrote an article about Karen’s startup now named Giveit100 – a platform for sharing videos that show a person’s progress at learning a new skill, keeping the apprentice motivated and fellow beginners inspired. Videos show the highs and lows of giving 100 percent, what learning really looks like over the course of 100 days or longer. She, too, was turned down on her first attempt to enter an accelerator program, 500 Startups.


I’ll spare you any suspense. After taking rejection in stride, she and her co-founder Finbarr Taylor continued improving the user experience of their website and searching for a sustainable business model.  A revamped Giveit100 was recently accepted into 500 Startups!





Since sometimes seeing is believing, you can watch Karen’s and Finbarr’s daily work on their startup here. Witness what it’s like to celebrate finding the first paying customer, worry about money, battle an office chair – to live through the startup grind and persevere. The video above shows a condensed version of the story behind building Giveit100.


“There’s so much I do not know about running a startup,” Karen confesses at one point. I’ll bet that sounds familiar to any honest startup founder. Follow her journey and just maybe you’ll find relating to the joys found by sticking it out day after day.


Congratulations to Karen and Giveit100 for cracking 500 Startups. We’re dancing with you!


Photo Credits


Author : Keith Liles

Keith Liles is a freelance writer who loves travel, music, wine, hiking, poetry, and just about everything. He practices saying "yes" to life vigorously, rehearsing for the phone call when he's asked to tour with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Follow Keith on Twitter @KPLiles.

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