"Some startups I come across are so small that there's rarely enough information online about them. What signals should I look for online to help me identify if a company is a good option?"
Here are some things we look at when we are deciding if a company is worth recommending to women in our network:
We do a few things for this:
We look at the caliber of the founders/their prior experience. Are they experienced in what they do, have they managed people before? Do we think they know how to build a high-performing, supportive engineering culture?
We also look at their business model & run rate i.e. how much they spend each month relative to their revenue &/or progress, do they seem thoughtful or reckless with their funds, do we think they can get more, etc. Why? Successful teams need both a good team who can build something customers want and to spend money thoughtfully as they build it (via Paul Graham, How to Start a Startup)
We also get a rough understanding of the market they're in i.e. are there successful businesses in this space? Or do most companies shut down, get sold off, generally just struggle versus businesses with anti churn, great markets, and seemingly good progress (interesting video about this)
We gage initial traction. We try to get a sense of whether this business has users, customers, or some sort of meaningful traction outside of product development? Many companies don't get very far, or seem to be doing well in one area but badly in others. Some links: 1 2 3
Lastly, we try to look beyond passion, mission and vision to make sure that there's a meaningful technology company being built underneath. For more nuanced discussion about this, watch Should You Follow Your Passion?