26+1 Telltale Signs That Your Startup or Startup Idea is Going to Fail

Success and failure signs

As a developer and an entrepreneur, I often come across startups that exhibits certain telltale signs that cause me to think they are not going to make it.
Here are the signs.

The usual caveat emptor: This list is not exhaustive, nor is it definitive.

  1. You are the only founder.
  2. You tried to find a business mentor, but no one seemed to be interested.
  3. You think you can make a better <insert name of well-established silicon valley startup here>.
  4. You have more than 3 co-founders. (statistically proven)
  5. There are no technical person on your team.
  6. You think that you deserve your weekends.
  7. All your co-founders are good friends.
  8. You took more than 5 months to launch your product.
  9. You did not validate your idea beyond your group of close friends because you are scared someone may “copy” your idea.
  10. You did not meet a single criticism when you share your idea with those around you. (They must be lying just to keep your friendship!)
  11. No one on your team is from the industry or customer segment you are targeting.
  12. You are building yet another platform. But you have no community or 6 digit marketing dollar.
  13. You have to fluff to answer the question “Why should someone use your product or services over <insert existing competitor here>”.
  14. Not all your co-founders commit equally (in terms of time and resources), and yet the equity is equal.
  15. Your co-founders are in this for different reason. (Some want to do it for money, others to feel like a boss, and yet others just for fun.)
  16. Your products or services are so new that you have to spend substantial time and resources educating the market.
  17. You cannot summarize what your company is about in one sentence. (Therefore your customers can’t figure out what you are about, either.)
  18. You constantly think of new features to add, and delay your product launch because of that.
  19. There is no sales or business development guy in your company.
  20. If you are a student and the going gets tough, you prioritize mugging over your own company.
  21. You spend on getting an office when you don’t really need one yet.
  22. You spend more than 10% of your time pitching to investors when you have no paying customers or at least 6 digit traction.
  23. You think that viral growth = integration with social media platforms.
  24. Your idea doesn’t solve any problems, or doesn’t solve a problem efficiently.
  25. Your target audience is “anyone between 12 and 65 years old”.
  26. You do not know what “growth-hacking” is.

BONUS +1. You post on a developer facebook group that you are looking for a partner, and it becomes an immediate PR disaster.

Which telltale signs have you observed in startups? Do you have others to add to the list?

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