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If you don't have a business model, it's definitely just about the exit. Or maybe the funding rounds.

True. Demand creation and life time value are one of many things that add sustainability to a company on its way to hockey stick scaling.

I suspect that having a business model makes it much easier to also have real value to users.

Possibly, but I don't think it's necessary. Sometimes money-losing companies are offering their users real value, which in effect the VCs are subsidizing. That's pretty good for the users so long as the VCs are willing to keep subsidizing the services! There was a good deal of that in the first dot-com bubble, where basically everything was free due to huge piles of neverending investor dollars paying for it all.

there were plenty of companies that offered users great value that they massively under-charged for.

Out of curiosity, which were the ones that offered great value?

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