Their Mistake, My Fault

On Friday night June 3 just before midnight, I received some terrible news. Not life or death terrible, but certainly news that I knew would make things significantly more difficult. I received my rejection letter from @techstars for their NYC summer program. This is something that I wanted more than anything I can remember in recent history, and at that moment when I read through the rejection email, I knew that path was no longer reality.

(For a more descriptive account of my exact feelings, @msuster totally nailed it – Embrace Your Losses – They Will Make Your Stronger – even though Mark thinks my TechStars rejection is a minor flesh wound and he’s probably right)

What bothered me most about this rejection is that I let my cofounder down. He had been busting his ass for the last two weeks to get our initial prototype ready in time, and it was my responsibility to get us into the program. I failed him. And to make things worse, there was no contingency plan. It was always “when we get into the program.” Even though I know that over 99% of the companies are rejected (literally – over 1000 applications and only 10 companies selected), I was fully convinced that I could get us in. Clearly, I was wrong.

Was I wrong because our team or idea was not good enough? No. I was wrong because I did a poor job getting the TechStars people excited and onboard with our vision and sold on our team’s ability to execute that vision. Admittedly, the idea for our company was not even two months old, our team had only been together for about a month, our development was about two weeks young, and we didn’t even have a name that made sense anymore because we enhanced and improved the idea so much. But would I put our team up against any team that is accepted into the program?


The rejection is TechStars mistake, but 100% my fault.

Maybe the deck was too stacked against me in that teams that applied have been together for years not weeks, some already have a large user base, committed and paying customers, large revenue streams, and so on. (In my mind at least) we could have overcome all of that if I could have laid out our vision better - yeah, it’s that good. But I don’t make excuses or have regrets. I make shit happen and I learn from the past.

So am I mad at the TechStars crew? Is that the end of our team? Is the idea garbage? Is there hatred towards the teams that got accepted?

Absolutely not!

Actually, @davetisch and the TechStars family have been great. The feedback, advice, and encouragement have been awesome, and I learned so much in such a short amount of time. Our team, although ever so briefly disappointed, is stronger and more committed now than ever.

If history holds true, there will be another NYC class of TechStars in the winter. That would mean we have 6 months of executing and ass-kicking instead of 6 weeks of rushing. And because I am a nice guy always looking to help, Tisch will only have 9 companies to find because you can ink us in early. Run and tell that homeboy…