How to Build a Company, Not Just a Feature

The startup world has produced incredible success stories over the past decade, from tech giants like Facebook and Uber to more minor successes such as Casper and AppSumo. But for every successful startup that makes it big, many more don’t surpass the initial idea phase. Too often, aspiring entrepreneurs get caught up in their idea and fail to build a company around them. 

Many entrepreneurs think that if they have a great idea, investors will flock to it – but in reality, the success of a startup has much more to do with the underlying business model than simply having an innovative concept. Building a successful company requires more than just an idea; it requires you to think holistically and create something more than the sum of its parts. 

Fortunately, investors have developed a few critical criteria to help them identify which startups will be successful long-term. By understanding these red flags and building your company around them, you can ensure that your idea has the best chance of success. Let’s explore these red flags and how they can help you build a strong foundation for your startup. 

Here are some of the red flags to watch out for: 

1. Your company is dependent on another product or company to succeed.  

It’s essential to consider that if you depend on another company’s product, changes to their business model or developments could affect your business negatively. If a company suddenly stops offering a service or feature that your product relies on, you could face significant barriers to continued success. Similarly, if the product you depend on is suddenly acquired by another company that takes a different business approach, this could also negatively affect your company’s future prospects. 

Investors will look for evidence that your product or service has a value proposition that can stand alone without relying on external products or services. Investors will only pass on your company if you have a viable independent value proposition. By developing and solidifying a robust and independent value proposition for your product, you can give yourself the best chance of success when seeking investor funding. 

2. You’re not creating a long-term, sustainable business model that can thrive independently.  

It is a critical red flag that investors will look out for, as it indicates whether or not your company has the potential to stand the test of time. Your company should build a long-term, sustainable business model on a scalable foundation with multiple revenue streams and an established customer base. If your company’s success relies solely on one product, one customer, or one innovation that has yet to be proven, then your company is likely too risky for investors. 

Investors want to see evidence that you have taken the time to develop a business model with multiple sources of income and a solid foundation for growth. It would be best if you focused not only on developing innovative products but also on creating the infrastructure that will allow your company to survive regardless of changes in the market. By ensuring that your business model is sustainable and can thrive independently, you can increase your chances of success with investors. 

3. Your team is inexperienced or lacks the necessary skills to build and scale your product.  

Another red flag investors will look out for is whether your team has the necessary skills and experience to build and scale your product effectively. A lack of technical knowledge or expertise in specific areas could quickly lead to a costly setback, as inexperienced teams often need to pay more attention to critical details or make expensive mistakes. Investors want to see a well-rounded group capable of turning your idea into a successful business. 

A team with the right skills and experience is essential for building a solid foundation for your startup. A technical expert can help ensure that your product works as intended, while experienced entrepreneurs can bring valuable insights regarding market trends and customer needs. By assembling a well-rounded team with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively build and scale your product, you can give yourself the best chance of success with investors. 

4. You don’t have an established customer base with proven sustained demand for your product or service. 

Investors will be hesitant to invest in your company if you don’t have a track record of sustained demand for your product or service. It means that you need to demonstrate that you have an understanding of your target market as well as a solid plan for customer acquisition.  

It could include evidence of customer interest, such as pre-orders or solid leads that you can easily convert into customers. You should also demonstrate how you plan to acquire new customers and retain existing ones once your product has been released. You can increase your chances of success with investors by proving that there is a strong demand for your product or service. 

5. Your product or service doesn’t provide substantial value to the customer.  

Investors will be looking for a product or service that provides tangible value to the customer. If your idea doesn’t offer anything unique or can’t be easily replicated by another company, it’s unlikely to attract investor funding. You need to ensure that your product or service offers value to the customer that cannot be found elsewhere. 

It could include a unique feature or benefit, a competitive edge in the market, or even an innovative approach to solving an existing problem. By taking the time to research and understand your target market and develop a product or service that provides value, you can increase your chances of securing investment from investors. 


Investors are looking for startups that can survive any roadblocks they encounter on their path to success. By understanding these red flags and building your company around them, you can ensure your startup stands out from the crowd and has the best chance of success. With some planning and dedication, you can bring your idea to life and build a company that investors will love – not just a feature. 

Your startup journey is filled with unknowns, but by understanding these red flags and planning, you can give yourself the best chance of success. So, take a deep breath, do your research and start building a company – not just a feature – that will last! 

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