StartUp Founders: When Are You No Longer A StartUp? Here’s The Key Indicator You Need to Know

January 04, 2023 2 mins read

As the startup industry has evolved, so has the definition of what it means to no longer be a startup. Traditionally, the goal of a startup was to quickly achieve profitability and become self-sustaining. However, with the rise of venture capital, startups are now encouraged to scale rapidly, even at a loss per user, with the hope of achieving profitability later on.

While this may be a successful model for companies like Uber, Postmates, and DoorDash, it doesn’t work for every startup. As a startup consultant, I believe that a company is no longer a startup when it can self-sustain without outside investment. This means that it has proven its economic model and can meet profitability.

It’s important to note that this definition of when a company is no longer a startup is based on the idea of product-market-price fit. Until a company can achieve this fit and prove that its business model is sustainable, it can’t be considered anything other than a startup. This is because, as I mentioned before, the goal of a startup is to achieve profitability and self-sustainability.

As industry luminary Mark Cuban once said, “Sales cure all.” This means that until a startup can generate enough revenue to support itself, it will always be a startup. That’s why I believe that the ability to self-sustain without outside investment is the key indicator of when a company is no longer a startup.

Of course, this is just my opinion, and I’m interested in hearing what others think. As the startup industry continues to evolve, so will the definition of what it means to be a startup. But for now, the ability to self-sustain is a clear sign that a company has moved beyond the startup phase and is on its way to becoming a successful business.

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