On Questioning Startup Business Models

It’s funny. Startups seem to have become such a holy grail that they are almost immune to critique.

No day goes by without me seeing articles touting this next startup that have raised X amount of money for some service. In a majority of these cases, a number of clearly relevant questions present themselves. Most often there is something odd in the finances, or the business model, or sustainability in the premise of the validity of the idea.

Arguably a startup is indeed in a constant search for a business model. True as it may be, we seem to be allowing these types of businesses much more leeway than they deserve. It is as if the entire broader startup/business community have developed a great fear of missing out.

I recently had an exchange with one such startup founder. Not fully understanding what made the company unique, I took to Twitter to try and find that out. What met me was an apparent lack of understanding why I:

a) wasn’t just trying out the service, but actually asking why it would be beneficial to me, and why it was different than others before, and,

b) was even questioning it in the first place.

As you might suspect, I got no real answers to my questions. This had me at a loss for words, and slightly worried. Apparently it did not seem to matter for this founder if someone did not at all understand at all what the company brought to the table.

Yes, startups are looking for a sustainable business model. But that is why we should be questioning their business models and logic constantly. It is in questioning, defending and thinking that we develop the greatest ideas.