Seattle entrepreneur turns investor rejection letters into NFTs

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Rebekah Bastian. (LinkedIn Photo)

Ever wonder how investors craft their “rejection letters” to startup founders? You can now find out — via a non-fungible token.

Seattle entrepreneur Rebekah Bastian on Wednesday released a NFT collection featuring an assortment of letters submitted by startup founders who faced rejection from investors.

The names of the companies and founders are hidden — and unlocked once someone purchases the NFT. Some of the companies have gone on to raise large amounts of capital or had successful exits. Others ended up shutting down.

“The primary goal of the project is to provide transparency and solidarity about the painfully-common experience of receiving a rejection letter from an investor you really wanted to work with,” said Bastian.

The collection is released under the umbrella of “Authentech,” a term coined by Bastian after she couldn’t find a category to describe her Seattle startup OwnTrail, a platform where people share the journeys of their careers and personal lives, providing each other support and connections. 

One of the rejection letters available to purchase in a new NFT collection released Wednesday.

The prices of each letter are set by the founders, varying from .05-to-.5 ETH, or about $65 to $650. The proceeds will go back to the founders. Bastian is not making money off the project, though she did submit a few of her own rejection letters.

“Imagine owning on-chain proof of an investor that thought Uber, Bumble or Canva weren’t a good bet,” Bastian explained in an email. “The unlockable content (name of founder and startup) are like a classic NFT art reveal, and the value is also determined over time as the startup progresses.”

Bastian has had a personal interest in NFTs, launching a few collections of her own art and starting an all-woman investment DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization).

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“As a tech leader and lifelong artist, the intersection of tech and art is really enticing to me,” she said. “And I love the potential that NFTs have to remove gatekeepers and redistribute wealth.”

Bastian, a former Zillow executive, said the project fits with the values of OwnTrail: transparency and solidarity. But the startup isn’t diving much more into the NFT world, for now.

Founded in 2020, OwnTrail recently expanded to all genders and launched a paid membership tier. It has 4,500 accounts that have shared more than 30,000 milestones.

“We’re working towards a huge vision, of a world where everybody has a trail that they use to unlock opportunities across all aspects of their lives,” said Bastian, who co-founded OwnTrail with Kt McBratney.

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