Beware of the business model. It can be the difference between a roaring success and a spectacular failure. Fact.

Why am I telling you this? Because we are in celebratory mood at the Starttech Ventures Venture Building space in Athens, Greece. For on October 5 we officially celebrated the 5th birthday of TalentLMS’s commercial launch back in October 2012.

Why business model beats product, every time

Business model before product

The journey of TalentLMS has included several milestones of utmost importance to our entrepreneurial ecosystem. Milestones that make us extremely proud. This is not only because of the platform’s commercial and economic success, but also for a much more significant reason.

What makes TalentLMS truly stand out, both in our network and in the market it competes in in general, is not so much the product itself. But it is down to Thanos’ leadership. From day zero, he and his team stuck by the rule that “your product is not ‘the product’, your product is the (entire) ‘business model”.

This principle may sound simple. But, and trust me on this, it is not at all. Far too many talented and creative entrepreneurs and business owners around the world make a classic mistake. They have a tendency to focus too much on their creation (‘the product’), often somewhat falling in love with it. The result is that they forget that in order for their creation to get a life of its own, it has to be based on a sustainable business model.

It’s all about running lean

This phenomenon is very well described in the book “Running Lean” by Ash Maurya (which is actually book #3 in the to-be-published Starttech Ventures’ lean startup curriculum – and many copies are of course available in our library).

The photo below from Maurya’s book provides a simple but comprehensive definition and summary of this principle.

Business model - The Lean Canvas

And that’s some rule to go by. Let’s say it again shall we. Your product is NOT “the product”, your “business model” is the product!

The TalentLMS example is a perfect way to illustrate our philosophy of being an alternative, lean startup Venture Builder, something we mentioned a few weeks ago in this blog. In the same way that TalentLMS was focused on their business model and not just the product, at Starttech we are also focused firmly on the added value we provide (for our startups and their customers, a well as ourselves) rather than just simple seed investment money with a splash of mentoring. We’re here to go the full nine yards. And then some.

Think big, be holistic

So, once more, our warmest congratulations go to Thanos and all of the team at Epignosis, who continue to provide such an outstanding, world-class example of successfully implementing this principle. Long may its success continue!

Never, then, forget the following:

Neither is your product ‘the product’, nor of course any other single component of the business model. A holistic approach is compulsory if one wants to harbor hopes of success.


Dimitris Tsingos Dimitris Tsingos

The Starttech Ventures Founder. Tech entrepreneur. Passionate European federalist. Dimitris has been the President of YES for Europe - European Confederation of Young Entrepreneurs [2011-15], the Founder of the Hellenic Start-up Association [2011], Board Member at EBAN - The European Business Angel Network [2014-17], 40-under-40 European Young Leader [2012-13], Marshall Memorial Fellow [2018] and a Fellow of IHEIE/PSL [2019].