In order to create an awesome brand, you have to build something for somebody. More specifically, you have to help this person solve a specific problem. Where software runs in to trouble is when they try to build everything into their first version.
For example, Mailchimp started out as email building software. That's it. They killed it and were then able to expand into new offerings that helped their users solve more problems like direct mail and marketing.
If they'd tried including all of those offerings from the onset, users would have been confused, it would have been extremely difficult to position the brand, and it would have been way harder to get up and running. It's like trying to jump to the top of the staircase when there are ten steps in between. It's a recipe for chipping your teeth and getting your ass kicked by an inanimate object.
The point? Avoid the everything trap.
Everyone -> someone.
Everything -> something.
You can always expand your services, but you never get to make another first impression.
No, you're not going to remodel the kitchen in your startup. This is an analogy. You see, when you renovate your house to increase its value, there are two areas most recommended: the kitchen and the bathroom. Doing this adds the greatest increase to a home's value.
Is it out of the question to think that design could be the equivalent to increasing a startup? Not unlikely. I was at a pitch competition last month and all of the judges made comments on the design of the winning team's slides. How well they flowed, the ease of reading information, and the personality they added. There were other participants that had ideas just as good as theirs, but good design made them win.
Furthermore, in comparison to other things startups might do to increase their value, design isn't that expensive. A solo freelancer can make a run-down, scrappy startup look like it is worth millions for under $30,000. If it results in the recoup of millions in fundraising, that sounds like a drop in the bucket.
Here's the thing: if you're looking to tremendously increase the value of your startup, you might want to consider design as a starting point.
When the Superman comics were first introduced in 1938, the hero was a success. Mainly because no such concept had been created or seen before. Superman represented humans in an ideal form, without fault and with extraordinary abilities. However, after a couple issues, you get kinda bored seeing him win all the time, it's as if there isn't anything worth challenging him on.
10 years later, the writers of Superman introduced kryptonite, the only material substance known to weaken Superman. This single foil within the character kept the series alive and gave him something to wrestle with. It made him more human and therefore more relatable.
The point is this, as a startup, you will have an urge to puff up your chest and broadcast yourself as impervious. Apart this being false, it makes it impossible for other humans to connect with you. Do a good job, strive for greatness, but never shy away from your imperfections. Your kryptonite is what makes people love you.