Essays/linkedin/24-04-23 competition

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🏇🏻 Dealing with competition is not easy when you are starting up. At some point you'll learn to embrace it instead of obsessing over it.

When I started developing my first product, I did a competitive landscape. I dove into technologies I had never heard before, and built a matrix to showcase in which dimensions we would be better.

What I completely forgot back then was to include users' opinions into my analysis.

Claims are easy to publish and build marketing around them. Users' opinions are much harder to change.

As an incumbent, without access to a range of users, you are left with pure speculation.

Perhaps you find honest papers showing the limits of some techniques. You found your niche, something you can do better than the others. Then you find another startup who is targeting the same application, all their marketing makes it clear they are better than you. It's so easy to fall into thinking that everything is done, there's no room for your ideas.

Sometimes it's true, and you'll need to find another idea. But often it's a matter of reframing.

It was revealing once I managed to start talking to customers of the competition and one after the other started saying things like: "it jus doesn't work", "it never gives the same result twice", "takes me at least half a day to align and calibrate the instrument, and I need to do it several times a week."

I was too focused on the type of data we could generate. The accuracy, the ranges, the sample concentration, the price point of the instrument.

But people cared about so much more. And even if you beat your competitors in every metric, inertia, loyalty (and peer-review requirements!) can have an unforeseen weight in the purchasing decision.

At some point I managed to stop obsessing over competition, and started focusing on learning from them.

If they've been longer in business they already know which conferences to attend. If they start targeting a segment I overlooked, perhaps there's an underlying reason I missed.

Once you embrace your competition, you'll also become better at understanding how you are different.

-- 👋 Hi! I'm @Aquiles.

I'm a scientist turned entrepreneur. I share insights on the challenges of #scipreneurship

Follow me to get all my latest thoughts and reflections.


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