Know your enemy

The competition is out there

Unless you have a 95% working prototype for teleportation you most likely have competition. For each idea that you have in your mind, somewhere in the world there is a team that is already working on executing it. This is not good, neither bad – it’s just a reality.

For a couple of months we’ve been doing market research. We found many solutions similar to ours in the world but nothing on the local market. We’ve been trying to find those products by using different word combinations, different search engines, asking people – and we couldn’t find a thing. And then one morning a friend called one of my partners saying:

“You won’t believe it! There’s a bunch of guys giving advertisement flyers with an idea exactly like yours!”

The bad

For obvious reasons, it was very disappointing. We found out that they had been working on this idea for 6 months according to the LinkedIn; however, the domain was registered back in 2013.

We immediately started checking everything that they have, everything that they do. What web servers do they run? Who is their webhost? What technologies do they use on the client side? We registered as users, started playing with the system, checking out user experience, responsiveness of the system, security, testing some rare cases and how the solution responds to them.

Learn from your competition

Learn from your competition

The good (for us)

Well, on the bright side, it took our competitors almost 2 years to start. They are either slow or busy – hopefully both. And in spite of all this time, they started with a generic and basic framework. Almost no customization: no customization for branding, and no localized customization (meaning that they hadn’t even translated from English).

The user experience is so unclear that I really don’t understand how to get from a certain page back to a main page except by reentering the URL again.

My favorite – their solution is so unready that every 5th action leads to the framework exception that is printed on the screen with the full stack trace.

I know that I’m emotionally invested so it’s probably not the ultimate objective reality – but at this point, I think no rational person would give his credit card (or PayPal account) to a site that looks horrible and occasionally crashes.

The ugly

As I’m writing this post, I understand that they are already out there. They stole our “being the first” title. For better or worse, they can test, improve and get better with feedback from real users.

While I truly believe that a great design, stable product and overall better execution will win, having a head start is something I cannot underestimate.

As the Godfather said, “Keep your friends close but your enemies closer.” I am monitoring their site daily – checking for new features and improvements.

Can’t wait to launch our solution 🙂

Let’s hope Guy Kawasaki is right when he says:

“Second, first-mover advantage isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Being a fast second might be better–let someone else pioneer the concept and learn from their mistakes–then leapfrog them.”

So what are the things you learn from your competition?



3 thoughts on “Know your enemy

  1. Lev says:

    True – but since it’s a local market – we definitely don’t want to play “there’s enough space for everyone” we want to dominate the local market:)

  2. Competition is both good, and bad, well challenging, not bad.

    It’s good because it adds another validation that you’re on track – if someone else had a similar idea and chose to invest in it, then you both share the notion that it’s worth something.

    It can be challenging when they are first in the market, *with a market share*, big difference. It can be challenging if they have a good product, a sales team, or reputation.

    Competitors can some times turn into partners, or even those that will buy you out, or invest in you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *