Airbnb CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky once scoured the professional world in search of learnings from the world’s greatest managers. Now he’s serving up some lessons of his own.
In a post on the social blogging platform Medium, Chesky published a series of early rejection letters he and his co-founders received from potential investors when they were first building the company that would become Airbnb. The startup is now a $20 billion “unicorn” that—as a poster child of the new sharing economy—has been fundamentally rocking and reshaping the hospitality industry.
The email dismissals are mostly curt, polite, and, well, reasonable. (“I am sure we didn’t look very impressive at the time,” Chesky admits.)
“Not in our area of focus,” wrote one potential investor. “Don’t think it’s the right opportunity,” offered another. “It’s a long shot for our involvement,” noted a third. “I’m not going to be able to proceed,” declined the following. The final reply is no different.
“We decided yesterday not to take this to the next level,” an unnamed venture capitalist said. “For some reason, we’ve not been able to get excited about travel related businesses.” (Two firms didn’t email the Airbnb team back.)
Read more: Fortune assistant managing editor Leigh Gallagher’s profile of Brian Chesky
Who knows how Chesky and his team felt upon receiving the news at the time. Probably: disappointed, dashed, deflated. Yet in hindsight, the sequence of rebuffs share an ironic, uplifting lilt: Don’t let the naysayers get you down.
“Next time you have an idea and it gets rejected,” Chesky writes, “I want you to think of these emails.”