As someone who likes to build innovative products for underserved markets, I am not a stranger to rejection.
So, when I received an email last night informing me that my company, UnionConnect, did not advanced beyond the semifinals for MassChallenge in 2014, I was surprised that “rejection” was not a part of the experience.
MassChallenge, which is one of the most well-respected and largest startup accelerators in the world, had advanced UnionConnect from our initial application through to the semifinalist round, but declined to accept us as finalists into their four-month accelerator program. They promise to tell me why, in detail.
I look forward to that.
But I am not stressing over their decision. This post is about why.
Putting it in Perspective
I am used to rejection from all kinds of people. Since founding UnionConnect, however, one place I have never heard rejection is from the market. In the six months since we have been in the market, we have signed over a dozen large, organizational customers and we are just getting started.
Therefore, I know I am on the right track.
Additionally, we are well on our way to making back our initial investment out of profits, so my partner and I will soon own a profitable company outright. With zero dilution, we can have the full freedom to listen to our customers and build the products they truly want and need.
As such, I am feeling fantastically optimistic about where we are going.
That is not to say we do not have our challenges. We have many ahead of us, which I look forward to tackling at the appropriate times. There is no doubt in my mind that MassChallenge could have helped us to do so in their four-month program, and in that specific sense, I am disappointed.
But the fact is that MassChallenge has already helped us tremendously.
MassChallenge Only Provides Value
MassChallenge does a wonderful job of providing value at every stage of the process, from the moment they offer up their initial application.
For $99, any founder can get access to questions that not only help MassChallenge identify promising startups, but also serve as an incredible microscope under which every entrepreneur should place his or her business at least once.
The MassChallenge application process is not easy. They require that entrepreneurs distill very complex answers about critical business logic, often into 250-character slots. As a loquacious lawyer, that is particularly difficult for me.
But I love that I struggled with the MassChallenge application. It forced me to think about issues that will affect the success of UnionConnect.
Some questions were easy to answer in the sense that the business embodied a strategy that lent itself to a good answer. Other questions forced me to think strategically about how to address weaknesses.
When we advanced to the semifinals, we faced even more helpful scrutiny. The process of creating what is essentially an investor-oriented a pitch (in the sense that it differs from how I pitch to prospects) meant that I had a reason to assemble an astounding panel of experts for business advice.
Each one of them gave me at least some advice I now consider to be essential. I took that advice and composed a pitch I would be proud to deliver again-and-again.
Bringing the pitch before the seven MassChallenge judges we encountered only illuminated so many additional questions that are going to help us to think about. And, the judges were also very encouraging, which I appreciate.
All told, I had a hard time thinking of the application process as an application at all. Rather, at every turn of events, MassChallenge used the application process as an excuse to help every entrepreneur it possibly could. What’s more, their commitment to delivering detailed feedback is outstanding.
Going forward, I look forward to continuing to be involved in the MassChallenge community, not only because it can continue to help, but because I am thankful for what they have given me.
As I see it, any organization that would go out of its way to give what they gave for a mere $99 deserves my involvement.
And as far as not making it to the finals? Thanks to the way MassChallenge runs their organization, I feel like I already won.