Many startup founders, especially first-time young founders, build their startup for the VCs so that they can raise money. That's the worst way to build your startup.
The only stakeholder that gives you money without asking back is the customer. Everyone else (including you) is there to take money off the table. Even the VCs are there to get returns. Them giving you money is a part of that process.
At Cogno AI we never raised any money. We do have a few small cheque angel investors who are more like mentors. They don't dictate our Product Roadmap at all. They are there to help us at specific problems whenever we need.
This helped us stay agile and flexible and focus on the end goal of building a customer-focused profitable business. I never had to worry about running out of cash and then going to the investors because our customers gave us the money that helped us sustain our business.
So build for the customer. Solve customer problems. Don't solve for the VC. Chase customers, investors will follow.