Every entrepreneur knows that failure and rejection are part of the game. But few expect to get rejected on national television.
That was the experience for Ali Bonar, CEO and co-founder of granola butter company Oat Haus.
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After applying for the show four times, Ali and her co-founders finally got a coveted spot to pitch their company on Shark Tank. The team spent more than 100 hours preparing their presentation but ultimately didn’t land a deal with the big-time investors.
Even without a deal, Ali takes the rejection in stride.
The show brought about great connections and gave Ali a platform to share her story of founding the company and moving from having an eating disorder to finding healthy and delicious ways to fuel her body. In the last year, Oat Haus has grown from three to 20 employees and did $2.5 million in sales.
Ali says that even with all the rejection—from Shark Tank, retailers, investors, and even family and friends who said she was crazy to quit a good job and start a company—her passion for the company and its mission keeps her going. Rejection fuels that fire and gives her more vision to keep pushing towards success.
Ali says everyone, especially entrepreneurs, faces a mental version of Shark Tank where we question everything, face rejection, and are told we won’t succeed.
But with rejection comes the need to build resilience and find opportunities. Ali says one of the biggest lessons she has learned from being an entrepreneur is to ask for everything, even if you think people will say no. She has been surprised by how many times people, be it investors, partners, retailers, or customers, will say yes and open new doors. The worst thing they can say is no, which just pushes Ali to move in a different direction.
Like all startups, Oat Haus has faced hiccups with its growth. Ali is open about her down moments on social media and aims to present an honest representation of both the wins and losses. But even with the struggles, she says a superpower of her team is that they never give up.
All entrepreneurs face rejection at some point. It may not be as apparent as happening on national television, but that doesn’t make it any easier. The key is to build resilience, find what drives you, find opportunities in the challenges, and never give up.
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