LinkedIn's Reid Hoffman: Laughable Ideas Are Sometimes the Best Ideas

In the new episode of 'Masters of Scale,' host Reid Hoffman chats with entrepreneurs Tristan Walker and Kathryn Minshew about using early rejection to build successful businesses.
LinkedIn's Reid Hoffman: Laughable Ideas Are Sometimes the Best Ideas
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Editor’s Note: In the new podcast Masters of Scale, LinkedIn co-founder and Greylock partner Reid Hoffman explores his philosophy on how to scale a business -- and at, entrepreneurs are responding with their own ideas and experiences on our hub. This week, we’re discussing Hoffman’s theory: the most scalable ideas often seem laughable at first glance.


Investors often place bets on proven models. But in searching for the next Casper or Facebook, they can miss the next big thing. (Just look at Chris Sacca’s decision to pass on Airbnb and Snapchat.)

Sometimes the most scalable ideas are the most laughable ones, at least according to Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn and partner at VC firm Greylock.

Related: Check Out a New Podcast Hosted by Reid Hoffman -- And Join the Conversation on

Hoffman looks to prove this theory in the third episode of Masters of Scale, a podcast series in which he explores counterintuitive theories to growing a company.

“If you’re laughed out of the room, it might actually be a good sign,” he says.

He digs into this idea through conversations with entrepreneurs like Kathryn Minshew, the founder of career site The Muse. In the episode, she shares how her pitch was rejected 148 times before someone saw its potential.

Tristan Walker,  the founder of health and beauty brand Walker & Co., had a similar experience while pitching Bevel, a men’s razor designed for coarse or curly hair. Response was initially lackluster. Investors said, “‘I don’t know. It’s niche. I don’t think it’s scalable,’” Walker recalls in the podcast.

Of course, hearing “no” over and over again is no guarantee an idea is genius. Chances are good the concept might just miss the mark. To help entrepreneurs know for sure, Hoffman shares insights on how to tell if “your ugly duckling could become a swan.” He calls this the “squirm” test -- and it’s a must for any entrepreneur testing a truly new concept.

Related: Reid Hoffman: To Successfully Grow A Business, You Must 'Expect Chaos'

For more anecdotes and lessons from Minshew, Walker and others, listen to the latest episode of this new series. Listeners can also access new episodes on Apple, Google, Stitcher and other streaming platforms.


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