@David Still - The statements you made above are something that every startup founder should read carefully and take to heart.
My take? As a guy who's done sales/marketing as an employee/contractor/consultant for 20+ early phase/startup enterprise tech companies all I can say is that the current angel/vc investing culture seems upside down to me. The cost of taking their money is giving up running your company.
Example: I just saw a startup that has managed to get to a 1.5 million dollar run rate with a sales vp who didn't have big company sales VP experience. He crushed building this company from zero to their current ARR, with a very high growth rate by hiring the right, small team. But because the founder needs more capital, he's going to fire the sales vp to put someone who VCs won't question into the slot. It's not that he doesn't think this sales VP couldn't scale to 10, 20 or 30 million, it's that the VCs will tell him that they want someone else in the chair if they invest.
While only a tiny example, to me it exemplified the insanity of running a startup enterprise tech company funded by institutional investors. These days, they all have ideas and input and systems they push on their portfolio companies, as though they know actually how to grow companies while they ignore their ludicrously high failure rates. It's amazing to me. The "incubator" approach couldn't be more tilted in the favor of their current strategy versus founders needs. They are fine with a cookie cutter approach because it gives them the 1 in 20 moonshot - and they simply don't care about the other 19. If they actually needed more capital or didn't fit within the incubator's "formula" it doesn't matter.
In my role, I work with founders who need the advice of someone who's actually sold 50 million of enterprise technology personally. Who's actually cold called and converted leads and built things like demonstrations and proposals and content and campaigns etc. I also have great strategic chops, and while I can drive down to painful detail, I can also helicopter up to strategy and help them from making fundamental mistakes. Fyi, the biggest weakness I see in most founders and startups is good strategy.
Where I'm terribly weak is in the financing side of things. And that whole world has changed so much, so the reason I'm commenting is that I'd like to connect with you. I'll send you a message. But my larger point for this thread is that "capital is destiny" - who owns you really matters. Money drives and if you give up the drivers seat for capital, don't be surprised if your company becomes something other than you planned.
As for Brandon specifically, I have no idea what the right next move for you is. My only advice is to very carefully consider your strategy. What are the competitors/alternates/substitutes available to your addressable market? What the the likely product pipelines of those companies? What is your distribution model? How will your value proposition be defensible? How will you punch through the huge level of noise in all markets today?