A startup founder who was rejected 148 times by VCs made these 2 small changes to her pitch, and she's since raised nearly $30 million


kathryn minshew

  • Entrepreneur Kathryn Minshew is the cofounder and CEO of The Muse.
  • She was rejected 148 times in her seed round of investing, she said on an episode of “Financial Grownup.”
  • But in her series A round, she was more strategic about pitching investors and eventually figured out how to ensure her idea was viable.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A different type of entrepreneur might have given up.

And after 148 rejections from investors, no one would have faulted her for throwing in the towel.

But if there’s one thing Kathryn Minshew values, it’s perseverance — when one approach doesn’t work, she’s ready to try another.

Minshew is the cofounder and CEO of The Muse, a job-search and career-advice site. At this point, she and her colleagues have raised nearly $30 million.

But as Minshew told certified financial planner Bobbi Rebell on an episode of the podcast “Financial Grownup,” the site had a rocky start, fielding one “no” after another during its seed round of investing.

In the series A round, Minshew told Rebell, she was more deliberate about the way she pitched investors. She found that two tweaks to her strategy eventually won out.

1. She pinned all her first meetings with investors to a roughly 3-week period.

Before that, Minshew said, she’d take whatever appointment the investors had available.

Now, she’d ask them to meet in a specific time frame. If they said they weren’t available, she’d respond with something like: “I need to get all of our first meetings done by X date. I can push it a few days. Let me know if you’re going to be able to make it work, and if not, totally fine. Maybe there will be another round that you can participate in.”

Inevitably, Minshew said, many investors would say they’d move around their schedule to fit in the meeting. “And the ones that weren’t able to or the ones that said, ‘No, sorry, I can’t do it,’ they probably would have never backed the company to begin with,” she added.

Read more: The first-time founder’s ultimate guide to pitching a VC

2. She solicited candid feedback from her end users.

This strategy allowed her to stay confident that her idea was viable.

“If you tell someone you’re the founder of a company and ask for their input, they’re more likely to give you positive input because they don’t want to hurt your feelings,” Minshew said.

“If you tell them that you’re a consultant, helping a company understand how its market positioning lands or helping a company better understand what it’s doing well and what it’s not, people are much more likely to give you totally unfiltered feedback.”

Based on the feedback she was getting from her target audience, Minshew understood she had “tapped a nerve,” she said. Though there were areas where the site could improve, there was a need for The Muse.

Minshew said, “We were on a path that people loved.”

Listen to the full podcast episode »

SEE ALSO: This LinkedIn message took 2 minutes to write and got the sender a job at a successful startup — even though they weren’t hiring

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