5 Lessons Learned from Being Rejected by Steve Jobs.

Joe Bayen
3 min readAug 8, 2023


The video detailing the story is also accessible on YouTube here:

5 Lessons Learned from Being Rejected by Steve Jobs.

In 2008, after complaining to Apple about our app’s rejection, I contacted Steve Jobs directly since he was known to occasionally reply to his sjobs@apple.com email address. A few days later, I was shocked and ecstatic when I saw his reply until I read the following terse words:

You should spend your time writing better apps.

Getting rejected by my hero felt terrible, and here are the five takeaways from that experience:

1. Stay humble

No need to take it personally; our app was a gimmick, we got called out, and in retrospect, we likely saved a lot of money since we never had to promote it.

2. Go with the flow

No need to force the outcome; we took our losses, licked our wounds, and quickly moved on and started thinking about the next project that would give us the best chance to succeed, which turned out to be a multi-million dollar business. Rejection is redirection.

3. Be flexible

The app store quickly became a crowded market, and instead of focusing on developing more apps, we focused on becoming a distribution channel for other apps.

4. Keep it simple

We focused on a simple concept called Free App A Day, which involved asking developers to make their paid apps for free for a few days. It attracted a massive audience and generated some viral traffic, leading to 12M downloads over the following three years.

5. Maintain a growth mindset

We kept iterating the model from promoting one app to multiple apps daily while advising developers on the best monetization strategies, becoming an industry authority in the process.

Bonus tip: Be grateful

I met Steve Jobs in person at the 2010 developer conference. I was so star-struck that I did not muster say a word about the email incident and just shook his hand and congratulated him for a great speech and the launch of the iPhone 4, still one of my favorite Apple devices.

In the end, the rejection was a blessing in disguise. My team and I owe a major part of our entrepreneurial success to Steve Jobs and Apple. Millions of consumers also benefitted from that experience by receiving great paid apps for free, and many more are now able to build credit for free through Grow.

If the story resonates with you, feel free to comment on a rejection experience that turned into a life-altering opportunity.

#founderstories #successmindset #nevergiveup