The biggest red flag I’ve found is when the “insertion point” you think is 10x+ better than the competition … doesn’t end up being something customers highly value once you launch it. Sometimes the 1.0 is cool, oftentimes it is clever, but many times it just isn’t quite the innovation customers are willing to pay for. It’s often in the ballpark, and sometimes even close to a sellable product, but not quite there yet.
There are 10,000+ SaaS vendors today, maybe more. How do you really break through? Improving something alone is not enough.
It is easy to imagine automating many processes and workflows and building amazing apps around these improvements. But only a subset are applications business will really pay for.
The biggest red flag I see is when the Initial Idea is in a good space, but the 1.0 just isn’t a Minimum Sellable Product.
Many founders give up then, or run out of time.
But you have to keep going. No amount of market research will truly tell you what customers want. It will only suggest it. If you launch a 1.0, and no one will buy it … perhaps they’ll buy the 1.1. Or the 1.2.
Most founders enter a good market, with a good idea. They often just don’t have a truly sellable product on launch day. With enough differentiated value, solving a problem customers don’t just have — but will pay for.
If you keep it, for another 12–24 months, you’ll have a much higher chance of success. A little more on that here: If You’re Going to Do a SaaS Start-Up … You Have to Give it 24 Months | SaaStr