How do I find the Competition?
Your work doesn’t end here. I’ve heard too many startups who don’t take it one step closer and have a conversation with other startups including the ones that had failed previously within the space.
We all heard the saying, “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Well, that definitely applies here.
Once, you find the competition and gather your knowledge and resources regarding them on the internet, walk the extra mile and engage with them.
Hustle. Pick up the phone and call them, tweet them, find someone who can recommend you. Offer to buy them a drink. Find a way to get 10 minutes with them and ask them intelligent questions about how they started, what they thought made them successful, what were their go-to-market strategy, what differentiated them, how did they generate users or customers? If they failed, this is even better for you. Ask them why they think they failed. What could they have done? What mistakes did they make? What did they learn?
Back when Luxury Lites and Zafaré, of which I’m Director of Marketing and CEO respectively, was in its infancy, my partner and I took the time out to engage with other players in the space.
We attended trade shows and met with founders individually. We cold-called our competitors as “students asking to gain information for a project” (you’ll be surprised as to how much information you will gain using this tactic) and after speaking to everyone, we would gather the thoughts and information gained from these key conversations and search for patterns. Armed with these patterns and loads of insight, we were more readily prepared to tackle the true problems in the industry and execute on our plan.
What Happens When a Startup Doesn’t Understand the Competitive Landscape
Not taking the time to assess the competitive landscape can be fatal to your success. Dedicate the quality time your startup deserves to have an excellent understanding of who the other market players are.
In my previous post, “How to conduct Startup Due Diligence” we discussed how your answer to: “Who are your competitors?” should never be: “We have none.”
I don’t care how “revolutionary” your product or startup may be, there are always competitors. And by accumulating the knowledge of what your competitors are doing, you can better strategize the direction you’d like to take that is best for the startup.
Here is how I would frame a competitor analysis
Take every company in the competitive landscape, and obtain information over the following:
Once you have this (As a bare minimum)
This is the diligence I along with many other startup founders, employed to gain a fresh understanding of our respective competition.
As you and your team start to prepare to go to battle and compete, I’d highly recommend you all read: Sun Tzu’s the Art of War. It definitely helped me get a general perspective on how to lead your team (startup) into battle and what elements you should take advantage of when dealing with opponents (competitors).
Over twenty-five hundred years ago, Sun Tzu wrote this classic book of military strategy based on Chinese warfare and military thought. Since that time, all levels of the military have used the teachings of Sun Tzu for warfare and civilization has adapted these teachings for use in politics, business, and everyday life. The Art of War is a book that should be used to gain an advantage over opponents in the boardroom and battlefield alike.
Translated by Lionel Giles and just a price of $2.49 in paperback, this is a must-have. When Evan Spiegel, Co-Founder of SnapChat was threatened by Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook of a competing product called Poke, Spiegel gave each employee a copy of the “Art of War” to his team. Poke went on to debut on December 21, but only briefly ruled the charts in Apple’s App Store before Snapchat was once again in the lead. Check out the story here from Business Insider.
It’s my hope, that armed with these resources, you feel a little more prepared to take on the opponents in your competitive landscape.
I’d love to hear from you all, so please never hesitate to reach out @Rayyanislam1, or to even express your own stories on how you overcame your competition. In my experience, these are some of the best stories to discuss.
Keep hustling, my friends.
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