Here Are Some Of The World's Most Successful Ideas That Started with Rejection

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Many people prefer eating fruit, with little regard to the roots which sustain the entire tree’s weight. While many people admire success, few try to find out the struggle someone went through in order to achieve it. Nothing comes without a struggle, and to leave an indelible mark in the world, many people have undergone extreme difficulties and rejection before prosperity came calling.

Change is inevitable, but human beings are resistant to it. Many people prefer walking the same route every day, rather than trying the road less travelled. This is why many successful ideas have lasted long after their founders have died, even when they began with utmost rejection.

Stories abound online of highly prosperous people who started mega projects after heartbreaking rejection. Are you looking for a copywriting professional? Find a talented writer here.

Every great idea starts with the imagination. In this article, we set out to explore some ideas which began with rejection, but went ahead to take the world by storm.

Kentucky Fried Chicken

Colonel Sanders is popularly known for Kentucky Fried Chicken, or simply KFC. He faced failure, misfortune, and rejection in everything he tried. This was before he founded a chicken recipe at the age of 65. This recipe faced rejection more than 1000 times before success came. In 1964, Sanders had 600 franchises to his name until the company’s growth became unbearable to him. He later sold the company for millions of dollars. Before his death, he was rated the second most recognizable person in the world. From this amazing story, we learn that age should not be a barrier to success.


Netflix began its subscriber service in the year 2000. Its main focus was carving a niche in the online video streaming industry. Blockbuster was already thriving in the conventional video renting service. In the hope of establishing a joint partnership, Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings tried to approach Blockbuster’s CEO John Antioco with his proposal, asking him to provide online video services through Netflix to supplement the rental service. Antioco did not agree to that deal. Reed even asked him to buy Netflix, but he did not agree. He dismissed him saying that the niche was not viable with the market then. Today, Netflix is worth billions of dollars and millions of people use it the world over. Blockbuster, on the other hand, filed for bankruptcy in 2010.


When Airbnb founders approached seven investors in the Silicon Valley, they did not expect rejection. They were seeking to raise $150,000 in exchange for ten percent of Airbnb. Out of the seven, two did not respond at all, and five sent humiliating rejections. According to reports today, the company is worth over twenty billion US dollars and millions of people use the service in different parts of the world. Airbnb is currently facing pressure in the market, due to an influx in the availability of short-term rental property.

Google vs Yahoo

Google is a popular tech industry company, but how many people know the story behind this success? Sergey Brin and Larry Page started Google at a time when Yahoo was at its peak. Then, it was receiving thousands of visitors on its search engine. Google founders approached Yahoo seeking to sell its PageRank structure for $1 million, an offer Yahoo rejected, saying it made little sense. The PageRank structure establishes the order in which various websites appear in the Google search result. After this rejection, Google never gave up. They continued to develop a brand, and made lots of money. Yahoo would later approach Google with a $3 billion offer but Google wanted $5billion. Yahoo did not pursue the issue further. Google is currently worth $600 billion, in comparison to Yahoo’s measly $4.5 billion.

Harry Potter books

Rejections cause bitterness and pain. J.K Rowling, the writer of the famous Harry Potter books, was not immune to rejection. She shared letters of her rejection with her fans on her Twitter account. 12 publishers rejected Rowling’s Harry Potter manuscript before Bloomsbury took it up. Today, the Harry Potter books and movies are famous among both young and old. The Potter stories have given rise to video games, a musical, a play, and eight movies. Its total franchise revenue is worth close to $25billion.

Alternating Current

Nikola Tesla invented the AC generator at a time when direct current (DC) was popular. Edison, the founder of direct current was afraid of rivalry and rejected the idea, saying it was dangerous. He convinced many people that Alternating Current would cause stray animal’s deaths. Edison did not stop there; he organized public demonstrations to show how dangerous it was. Some people agreed with him, but even with that kind of rejection, Alternating Current became successful in the year 1902. To date, industries and homes use this system.


After being in the telephone industry for some time, AT&T was seeking to expand their business. They approached McKinsey and Company, a trusted counselor, for advice on how they could get a customer base by the end of the year 2000. According to McKinsey and Company’s predictions, only 9 million people would be using cell phones by then. While this figure was quite small, AT&T did not give up. They proceeded with the cell phone business and by 2000 their user base was more than 100 million. Today, almost everybody has a mobile phone, with many having more than one. AT&T boasts millions of customers in every corner of the world.


When FedEx’s founder came up with the company’s proposal, his college professor said it was unattainable. Fred Smith was so sure of his plan that he did not let that rejection dampen his resolve. He began by shipping small items during off-peak hours at the airports. In the first night in business, FedEx made 186 deliveries. FedEx is a currently leading company in the courier service industry. In the year 2017, the company ranked number 58 in the year’s Fortune 500 list. By the year 2016, the company’s annual revenue was above $50 billion.

The Tangle Teezer

The founder of Tangle Teezer, Shaun Pulfrey, faced rejection when he pitched his idea to the Investors in Dragon’s Den. They said it resembled a horse brush and was a waste of time. However, the founder did not give up. Today the Tangle Teezer enjoys endorsement from Victoria Beckham, and costs more than $200.

Stephen King

Before success came calling for this amazing writer - whose books have sold over 350 million copies - his work faced rejection more than 30 times. Today, he enjoys success with movies made out of his work. However, it was not always like this, and Stephen King was thinking of giving up. His wife, Tabitha, kept him on his toes until success became a reality.

Hershey chocolate

Milton Hershey, the founder of Hershey chocolate, attempted several trials before finally gaining ground. He worked for a candy factory before starting his own business. His failures did not deter his quest for success. He took time to master a perfect method of making irresistible milk chocolate candy. The Hershey chocolate today is popular among people of all ages.


Some individuals are confident enough to believe their ideas are perfect, and ready for execution and endorsement. In such a scenario, the least expected reaction is a rejection and it might be a blow to someone’s self-esteem. Looking at it from a positive point of view, rejection is good for business. It instills rejuvenation within the individual, and a strong desire to prove their self-worth and ability. This explains why the most brilliant copywriting ideas are born out of rejection.

Do you have ideas or comments to add? Share them in the comment section below.

Publié 6 novembre, 2017


Entrepreneur & Creator

Nick is the Entrepreneur Correspondent for He is based in Sydney, NYC, & London. His life consists of frequent flyer points.

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