The only thing that matters in a Startup

Santiago Lopez

May 9, 2022

4 minutes


When setting up a Startup there are four main elements that every founder has in mind to develop his business.





However, there is only one thing that matters when starting out. Are you willing to take a chance on which of these four factors is directly related to the success of your startup?

The debate is more than interesting. Especially if you reverse the question:

What is more dangerous for a Startup, a bad idea, a mediocre team, a horrible product or a poor market? Let's get started!


As far as Startups are concerned, there are no good or bad ideas, but good or bad ways to execute those ideas. You don't need a brilliant idea to start a Startup. Many are born from not so promising ideas, and the ones that really succeed are the ones that solve a problem in an innovative way.

A great way to do this is to offer people a better solution than what they have today, using technology to scale.

In the end, the solutions are usually oriented to one of these points:

  • Generate more revenue
  • Saving money
  • Optimizing time

The challenge is to create an innovative solution to an existing problem.

Over the last 10 to 15 years, the startup ecosystem has grown exponentially and that has raised the bar higher and higher. Today it seems that everything has been invented and you may find yourself thinking "how hard it is to have a great idea".

Well, there's a phrase I read a while back that has a lot that I think is very accurate.

"If you think first about creating a Startup, you'll have big problems. If you think about the problems first, you'll have a great Startup."

The best way to get ideas is to think about the problems you have every day. Don't wait for the moment of divine enlightenment to start a project.

There are certain points you should pay attention to if you want to come up with more and better ideas:

  • Technological changes and innovations
  • What works in our environment
  • What does NOT work in our environment
  • Family experiences
  • Professional experience

Before Facebook, people used MySpace. Before Whatsapp, there was texting. Before Netflix, there was blockbuster. Before Spotify, there was Napster and before Napster, people bought CDs. Times change, so do problems and with them come new ideas to create new solutions.

That is why it is not SO important the IDEA itself, but HOW that idea is carried out.

The idea is 1% and the remaining 99% is the execution.. In fact, falling in love with your idea, just because it is YOUR idea and you think it is the best idea in the world, is counterproductive and is often one of the reasons why startups fail.


When turning an idea into a tangible product, the immediate desire of 99% of first-time entrepreneurs is to include as many functionalities as possible in order to solve as many of their User Persona's problems as possible and thus create a "Value Product".

This thinking is dangerous. Remember: More features does not mean more value.

Sure, the product should be intuitive, functional and designed to deliver an amazing user experience. But it doesn't have to be perfect. Much less the MVP.

The Lean Startup approach will save you time and money, two resources that are always in short supply when starting a startup. Build fast to launch fast, gather feedback to measure fast, get it wrong to learn fast, and build again. That's what the Feedback Loop is all about.

If you are not so familiar with this method, I leave you a video that may help you. Anyway, I strongly recommend you to read Eric Ries' book. It will help you to reinforce concepts that I'm sure you have heard many times. It is the basis of every GREAT entrepreneur.

So, "What would a Startup be without the product?" This is what a VP of product or a developer would ask to support the argument that this is the most important factor in the success of a Startup.

However, without a GREAT team there will never be a GREAT product. Do we agree?

The world has changed. Startups today are not the same as they were 20 years ago. The bar for digital products is much higher. Today there are so many options to choose from. That's why it's so important to stand out quickly and differentiate yourself from the competition.

And how do we create a quality product?

Well, those who define the quality of a startup's product will be.... You guessed it: Your customers!

"The product must be impressive." Impressive to whom?

Always keep in mind your users, and those potential customers who are really going to use it. What other people who are not going to use the product think should not affect you.

The hardest part of building a GREAT product is knowing the user's problems.

To get to know your potential customers it is essential to ask questions: What do they like?What do they like? What problems do they have? How do they solve it today? Would they pay for your solution? How much would they pay and why? What would make them recommend your product to a friend?

If you have already launched the product, it is also super important that you talk to your users. If you can observe them using your product, so much the better. Sometimes, when conducting interviews with users, they tend to answer in an "elaborate" way to feel useful or smart. If that happens, the answers you collect will come with biases, and will not help you to really improve the product.

Your users' behavior doesn't lie, their words might.

There are 3 guiding questions that can help you think about the value of the product you are developing.

  • How easy is the product to use?
  • How fast is it?
  • How intuitive is it?

Finally, if you have some ideas, but you are still not 100% sure of the product you will build, here are some questions you can ask yourself to identify how committed you are to the solution you want to create.

Does my idea solve a big enough problem?

Is my idea something people are willing to pay for?

What can my app do to save someone time or money?

Will my app improve the quality of life of my users?

Is it something I would really like to build?


Setting up a startup always requires teamwork. The best people build the best companies. The best companies build the best products.

Starting a business without a team is very hard. However, in the beginning you should try not to hire.

Why? Because it takes time and money, and those are two scarce resources at the beginning of any startup.

It is best to hire only when you have a desperate need to do so. The founding team must be committed to the Startup.

Entrepreneurship can be daunting at times. That's why it's critical to find GREAT Co-Founders. And how do I do that?

At the beginning, it is essential to define the criteria to find co-founders. On the one hand because it will be the same as getting married. You and your partners will embark on a full-life adventure that will last as long as the life of the company you are creating.

However, partnering is difficult and not always necessary. Many times we partner out of fear of being alone. A common mistake here is to count on partners when you can do without them.

To look for Co-Founders, you should keep 3 things in mind:

-That your partners share the same vision, mission and values.

-That your partners have complementary characteristics to yours.

-That your partner is an honest, upright person whom you respect as much as you respect yourself.

According to Tim Shephard "a great team is a team that will always beat a mediocre team, given the same market and the same product".

If you are thinking of starting a business and you don't have partners, or if you are already starting a business and you are doing it alone, I strongly recommend you to watch this video of Freddy Vega, CEO and Cofounder of Platzi.


We come to the 4th and last determining factor when setting up a Startup: The market.

If you ask entrepreneurs or VCs which of the 4 factors is the most important, many will say it is the Team. This is the obvious answer, in part because when starting a Startup, you know much more about the team than you do about the product, which has not yet been built, or the market, which has not yet been explored.

In addition, we have all been raised with slogans such as "people are our most important asset." Sentiments in favor of people permeate our culture, so the response that the Team is the most important thing feels right.

Who wants to take the position that people are not THAT important?

On the other hand, if you ask engineers, many would probably say that Product is the most determinant variable in the success of a Startup since it's all about products.

Startups build products, customers buy and use products. Apple and Google are the best companies in the industry today because they build the best products.

Without the product there is no company.

However, the only thing that matters in a startup is to find the right product/market fit. product/market fit.

Everyone talks about the PMF, but what is it in essence?

Product/Market Fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.

As a founder, you must do whatever it takes to get that Product/Market Fit.

That includes changing people on the team, re-designing your product, changing to a different market, saying no to customers who don't fit your target, whatever it takes.

In conclusion, the fit between the product and the market is the most determining aspect when we talk about the success or failure of a Startup. It is a long road and it does not happen overnight. We have published an article talking about how to know if your Startup has hit the PMF.

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