When GoldieBlox founder Debbie Sterling walked into Y Combinator headquarters, a male interviewer’s first question was, “Did you bring us cookies?”
It got worse from there. Two days after the startup fund rejected the company, which makes toys for sparking girls’ interest in engineering, Sterling’s friends stopped volunteering for her, and her cofounder had quit, according to an interview with Inc.
Still, Sterling soldiered on in her quest for capital, though she feared her recent rejection was a black mark that would hamper her future efforts. Her persistence paid off with a group of Seattle investors who shared her enthusiasm for inspiring girls to explore science and problem-solving.
“For the first time, I realized I’d fallen into this trap where I felt like the validation that I needed was from the male-dominated tech industry,” she told Inc. “I didn’t need that. All that mattered was that I was creating something that was going to inspire little girls.”
Sterling raised her first seed round of $400,000 in 2012, plus an additional $285,000 through Kickstarter later that year.