If you have been reading up on digital news frequently, you already know what’s the most ‘in’ topic of conversation today — startups.

Call it a need of the hour or blame unicorn success, but everyone is after the next big thing. Entrepreneurs are after making an idea the world experiences and gushes over and investors are after ‘opportunity’.

Let’s get real, entrepreneurs are the new-age poster boys, leaving behind politicians and celebrities when it comes to making news or raising controversies.

The thing called startup success

Whenever a new idea enters the market, there are hundreds betting that it’ll be the next one to make it to Forbes in a short span.

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The basis of their judgement?

— the startup getting into an incubator
— raising venture capital money
— a feature on popular tech blogs
— millions of app downloads and unpaid users

I wouldn’t say the parties betting are wrong; if it weren’t for the half-cooked ideas that are being deemed as the ‘next big thing’.

There’s a hot new startup in the limelight every other day — but the truth is that 90 per cent of them are failures. Even the ideas that make it through the ‘criteria of success’, more often than not lose momentum and become a thing of the past.

A recent consumer survey suggests that the average number of apps downloaded in a user’s smartphone is 42 and the most frequently used apps are less than 10.

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Ask yourself — what are the most productive apps that you frequently use? The answer says it all.

It was proven during the dot com bubble that human lifestyle cannot be automated through the Internet. The same applies to mobile apps. People love varied experiences and it’s natural to try out newer things out of curiosity. What makes business sense is the convenience improvement offered by a mobile app, therefore, they use it regularly and will pay for.

Even though getting funded is a step towards the success goal, it need not always be associated with actual validation of products. Let’s face it — investors are here to make money and they call their best shots with due diligence; however, it is not too different from placing a bet.

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With today’s Internet economy, the possibilities for a startup are immense —  money liquidity in the market just makes the sail smoother. Investors don’t want to miss out on an opportunity and web journalists are racing against time to be the ones to discover the next unicorn!

Does claiming a huge venture capital round or a PR feature mean success? Does any of this even matter to your customers? The answer is ‘no’.

What matters to your customers is whether your product resolves any of their day-to-day issues. Once they have something to relate it to, they will be willing to pay for it — but not once do they look at your funding or PR features. As a matter of fact, most don’t even know what they are!

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What ‘startup success’ really looks like

Put yourself in a realistic and satisfying position and don’t get distracted by the PR glory you bag within a week of introducing your idea in the market or fundraising. Here’s what really defines a startup’s success:

products that are solving real-time problems irrespective of their nature and size
customer traction out of need and not multiple advertisements
— steady inflow of revenue and profits
customer retention and the ability to get referrals

So, before you rack your head on how to make it to the top with the sexy side of fundraising and PR, remember the above four points should be your primary goals; everything else is secondary.

Doesn’t match up with what you’ve heard? Well, that’s the truth coming from a guy who has been through the grind.

The views expressed here are of the author, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them. e27 invites members from Asia’s tech industry and startup community to share their honest opinions and expert knowledge with our readers. If you are interested to share your point of view, please send us an email to writers[at]e27[dot]co

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