Handling Rejection: A Guide for Inventors

Servings of no" are part of the inventing experience.

George was a proud and successful older man. He’d survived the Holocaust as a child. Then he escaped communist Romania with only the clothes on his back. He’d made his way to America where he built a successful tool company that he had retired from. We’d just finished pitching George’s invention to a young engineer who worked for one of the world’s largest brands. The young engineer had said no and was beginning to explain why. George couldn’t take it. He looked squarely at the young man and in his strong accented voice said, “I want to kill you.” The meeting ended.

*This really happened.

Handling Rejection: A Guide for Inventors

Hearing "no" can be disheartening, especially after investing time, effort, and resources into your invention. However, rejection is not the end of the road; it can be a powerful catalyst for growth and improvement. Here's how to handle rejection and turn it into a stepping stone for success.

1. Understand That Rejection is Common

Thomas Edison famously said, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." Rejection is not a reflection of your worth or the potential of your invention; it's simply part of the journey. Recognize that rejection is a natural part of the innovation process. Most inventions face numerous rejections before finding their place in the market.

2. Seek Constructive Feedback

When you receive a rejection, it's crucial to seek feedback. Understanding why your invention was not accepted can provide valuable insights. Was it a technical issue, patent, market, or presentation problem? Constructive criticism helps you identify areas for improvement and refine your invention to better meet market needs.

3. Evaluate and Adjust Your Strategy

Take the feedback seriously and evaluate your approach. Is there a need to tweak your design, target a different market segment, or improve your pitch? Flexibility and adaptability are key. Use the insights gained from feedback to make necessary adjustments. This iterative process of evaluation and refinement is essential for innovation.

4. Strengthen Your Resilience

Rejection can be a test of your resilience. It's easy to get discouraged, but resilience is about bouncing back stronger. Focus on your long-term goals and maintain a positive outlook. Surround yourself with a supportive network of fellow inventors, mentors, and advisors who can offer encouragement and guidance.

5. Learn from Successful Inventors

Study the stories of successful inventors like James Dyson. Dyson created 5,127 prototypes to perfect his vacuum cleaner. Their experiences can provide inspiration and practical advice on overcoming obstacles. Understanding that even the most successful inventors faced rejection can motivate you to keep pushing forward.

6. Revisit Your Market Research

Sometimes, rejection occurs because there isn't sufficient market demand for your invention. Revisit your market research to ensure that your invention addresses a real problem and meets the needs of your target audience. Consider conducting surveys, focus groups, or beta testing to gather more data and refine your product.

7. Enhance Your Presentation

A great idea needs a compelling presentation. Ensure that your pitch clearly communicates the value and uniqueness of your invention. Most of the time the first impression of your invention will come from an email, video or sales sheet. It is critical to make the right points quickly. A polished and persuasive pitch can make a significant difference in capturing attention and generating interest in your invention.

8. Stay Committed to Your Vision

Lastly, stay committed to your vision. Persistence is often the key to turning a rejected invention into a successful product. Believe in the potential of your idea and remain dedicated to bringing it to life. Rejection is not a sign to give up but an opportunity to refine and improve. (Most of the time. It needs to be said that sometimes, the reasons for rejection are strong enough that moving on to something else is the best choice).


Rejection is a common and often necessary step on the path to innovation. By seeking feedback, adjusting your strategy, building resilience, and staying committed to your vision, you can transform rejection into a powerful tool for growth. Remember, every "no" brings you one step closer to the "yes" that can change everything. Keep inventing, keep improving, and keep believing in the power of your ideas.

Get a chance for a licensing deal along with honest feedback and suggestions on how to move forward with Invention City's Brutally Honest Review.

- Mike

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