Nana korobi ya oki
This statement is particularly true for tech startups. Historically, some of the most successful startups show that you have to keep trying until you find the proverbial “product-market fit.” What does this mean? Marc Andreessen (co-founder of Netscape and Andreessen Horowitz) defines the term as follows: “Product/market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.”
In order to find a good product-market fit, a startup has to fail multiple times.
Airbnb, one of the most successful companies in recent times, has faced countless setbacks. The founders ran out of a stack of credit cards and even tried selling John McCain and Barack Obama-themed cereal.
Along with the struggle of dealing with setbacks, startups go through a phase of shifting from idea to idea. Not many people might be aware of it, but the creators of YouTube envisioned the site to be a video dating service. Even famous e-commerce software behemoth Shopify started as a small online retailer that sold snowboards.
This idea of nana karobi ya oki doesn’t have to hold true only for startups. Two young men who quit Yahoo and were rejected by Facebook went on to build a product company, WhatsApp, which is used around the world. The irony is that Facebook later bought the company for a whopping $19 billion.
But perhaps one of the most prominent entrepreneurs who’s dealt with rejection is Jack Ma of Alibaba, who was famously rejected for a job at KFC. He had failed his university’s entrance exam twice and was rejected from dozens of other jobs as well. Considering his history and how he was eventually able to build one of the world’s largest companies, it’s nothing short of an amazing achievement.