This may sound odd, but asking what other people want is a fool's errand. There is no unique concensus as to what people want. I think the better approach is to decide what YOU want, and then make it so good that other people want it too.
With that said, it's time we see some standaradization with pickups. These things should be drop in by now, no soldering required. I'd love a guitar where I could easily exchange pups on the fly.
I think there's a gap in the market for boutique old Epiphone Coronet style solid bodies and DC LP Jrs and Specials. There is a guy Harvester who does his own interesting take on that stuff and more besides like Wandre guitars that have a cool '60s aesthetic. I agree with others that if you don't have a unique selling point nobody is going to buy from you when there are a million people out there with a reputation.
Man, if those are your benchmarks, stop right there and rethink this. The market is flooded with good $1000+ guitars with good nuts, pickups, that do come with cases.Me and a builder friend of mine are thinking of starting a company together. What are some things you guys would love to see as a standard on a guitar you are looking to buy. I know I hate seeing a guitar $1000+ with a cheap plastic nut, pick ups that are just so so and no case.
Many find doing quality repairs etc., is an excellent start point... it can be quite lucrative too.. and it "gets your name out there".. once that happens, making the nextstep is far easier.
I would like to see an American maker that can find a way to do something other than boutique guitars for doctors, lawyers and technocrats.