We see a lot in the news about startups that seem to be primarily focused on social media and hype. Often, it seems they only want to acquire users but provide them no (or very little) value. But what we don’t hear about very much are what I like to call the “others”; the startups that don’t rely on social media to drive sales or add users.

We like to consider ourselves part of the “others” category along with buzzwordy B2B and enterprise companies (like Lincoln-based companies Pen-Link and MacPractice).

For us, being a startup isn’t about doing the thing that’s the sexiest or coolest. We want to build meaningful solutions to real problems and create software that addresses real needs. These are products that usually aren’t built out in six weeks, even though we can prototype and iterate much faster than that (but that’s another series).

The “others” have some things in common with the high-profile startups you read about in the news. They both:

  • Focus on the customer
  • Make money or die
  • Work like crazy
  • Have a high failure rate

But there are also key differences. The “others”:

  • Care more about the product than the brand
  • Have a better product than a brand
  • Solve really hard problems
  • Don’t necessarily sell directly to consumers
  • Design (sometimes) isn’t important
  • Probably have a long, tough sales cycles

We don’t have anything against these high-profile startups; the world will always be in need of new and innovative ideas. But we also think it’s important for kids coming out of high school or college to see that there are more problems to solve than making it easier to share with the world what you had for dinner last night.

Don’t get caught in the trap of the popular or the easy. Take on hard challenges. Do things others aren’t. Don’t settle. Do something great.

Author’s Note: I thought a better title for this would be “Anti-social Startups”, but I wanted to respect folks with social anxieties. It’s a real issue that effects more people than you might think.

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