November 6, 2018

I bumped into a competitor

Hi all,

I have been busy the last few weeks in building my app. It has been going kind of slow. I thought I am in a niche and there are no real competitors.

Yesterday I went to a exhibition and there I saw to my shock a competitor who is building exact the same app as I do. He is much further then I am and will hit the market before me.

I spoke to my comeptitor and took as much information from him as I could. The market is large enough that there is room for more then one player.

My question is how should I continue?

I am still building my product and don't have anything like a landinpage etc. They have a team of 12 developers and I am on my own. I Have gone through a validation phase by talking to people.


  1. 5

    I am growing at 40% month over month in a field with 8 competitors because:

    • I'm executing (marketing) better

    • While its a niche, the pie is still big enough to share

    • I'm making a better product (40% demo close rate)

  2. 4

    Here's how you proceed:

    1. Find customers in your niche and start building for them.

    2. Turn those customers into loyal customers who join your following and advocate for you. Give them special perks, etc.

    3. Continue to build your following by gathering users to an online group, YouTube channel, Instagram, etc. and commit to giving that group endless value aligned with your niche.

    If you keep on this path then you will eventually outpace the competition who is most likely not entirely focused on building their following.

    P.s. if you are the maker of the product, eventually this means that you may not have a lot of time for building the product because you will become the face of the business and be busy with that. But this is how products blow up in 2019 as software is quickly becoming a commodity.

    1. 1

      Thanks for your feedback.

      P.s. if you are the maker of the product, eventually this means that you may not have a lot of time for building the product because you will become the face of the business and be busy with that. But this is how products blow up in 2019 as software is quickly becoming a commodity.

      I have been thinking about starting a podcast about it. I have been waiting because I don't think I have enough content for a podcast.

      1. 1

        Do it now and push out content as it comes to you. But I think you'll find that you have more to talk about than you think.

    2. 1

      Agreed with the assessment. I'd double down the comment by saying you should put your product in the hands of a customer as soon as possible (by that I mean within a month). The danger in these situations is to feel like you have to catch up on features and keep building without getting feedback.

      Try to switch to "sell" mode a bit more, perhaps by having a few hours in the week dedicated to finding customers. You might be able to find an angle that gives you an edge, even if you're just one person. (Twitch for instance got super popular with gamers - even though they did not realize it until late).

      1. 1

        Very good advice! You need to ship to your customers wayyyy sooner than you think.

      2. 1

        Thanks for your great feedback.

        Try to switch to "sell" mode a bit more, perhaps by having a few hours in the week dedicated to finding customers. You might be able to find an angle that gives you an edge, even if you're just one person. (Twitch for instance got super popular with gamers - even though they did not realize it until late).

        I would love to sell more of my product even though it isn't production ready yet. However I have a hard time finding them online. I have written another post about that over here: https://www.indiehackers.com/forum/next-step-in-finding-places-where-my-potential-clients-hang-out-5ff835b38e I would love to get some feedback on that .

        1. 2

          I read your post and all I can say is that you might have to do some door-to-door, talk to tenants, ask for the contact of the building manager and sell your case.

          It's unlikely that you'll find your customers online, and if you think about it, you actually know where your future customers hang out. Just walk down the street and ring the interphone at any building. It might sound crazy but that's probably what you'll have to do. Folks that do apps for restaurants, delivery, etc... do just that.

        2. 2

          The least you can do is put up a good landing page "lead magnet" that talks about the benefits of your product and includes an early access signup for to grab emails. Then include a link to your signup form where ever you talk about your product.

          This does NOT require a completed product to do which is nice.

          1. 1

            Thanks for your reply. I really Appreciate . it.

            Do you have any good resources to create a good landingpage?

  3. 4

    Competition is always great: it is a market validation of its own.

    It's not always the best to be the first on market.

    If you think about McDonald & Burger King. Burger King has always been positioned as a rival of McDonald. Once the Big Mac became famous Burger King created their own "upscale BigMac like". If you see a McDonald there's often a Burger King not far. Which at the start enabled Burger King to leverage McDonald store positioning algorithm without having to build their own.

    What is their USP? What is yours? Do you need to change yours (be more upscale, better user experience, different offering or business model). Could you go for a slightly different audience? Can you launch in a different market that they are (if they launch in the US first, can you launch Europe first?).

    Here's a story of a UK startup that I was advising a year ago. They launched their product late in a renting marketplace, and one big player was already settled.

    By doing further research and analyzing their competition they quickly understood that the most revenue generating model was to rent high-end products only. So they focused on that part. They were going even more niche than their competition within the Niche. The competition is now trying to focus on the high end products but struggling as they have a too large offering.

    Competition is good to keep you on your feet. Just learn from them but don't focus too much on them. If the market is big enough, make sure to have the best experience and always think about what is that extra value you can add, what is your "Value Stick"?

  4. 4

    Having a competitor can sometimes boost the market validation as it means there is more of a potential market than just what you believe.

    Being a Solo Entrepreneur means that you can be more agile and dynamic as you don't need to get team feedback, convince everyone to get on-board with changes, spend hours collaborating to get the same standards or work, etc.

    Maybe something to look at is how little you need to create an MVP, can you get away with a landing page and an email newsletter, or would a basic web app work? (Our MVP is so basic compared to our competitors but this worked to our advantage as it was much easier to incorporate customer feedback and we could release features faster).

  5. 3

    I've said it before and I will say it again. The world is a big place. There are anywhere between 7,000,000,000 and 8,000,000,000 of us on the planet.

    Even in the Netherlands there are more than 17,008,000 people.

    How many of them do you need as customers in order to live a very comfortable lifestyle?

    Assume you are selling your product for a one-off fee for €10 per sale.

    Could you live comfortably on €100,000 a year? If so, you need to find 10,000 people out of 7,000,000,000 to buy your product.

    Assume you sell your product on a subscription basis for €10 per month.

    Could you live comfortably on €100,000 a year? If you, you need to find 834 people.

    Now - about that competition .....

    1. 2

      I am not afraid of competitors. It keeps me sharp. My market is not as big as the amount of people on earth, far from that. Before I went to that exhibition I kept in mind that I might meet a competitor and I wasn't going to be put down by that. And from your response as well as from other founders I see I was right.

      It does make me think what I should focus on first. As each moment I use on marketing I can't write code and visa versa.

      1. 1

        Is your product good enough yet to put out there? If so, I would do that and start to establish a user base. At the same time, of course, you work to improve the product - but have a very clear plan of what needs to be improved / introduced and in what order.

        You then spend 30% of your time marketing and the rest developing.

        I am assuming, of course, that you have enough money to live on while you do this. Otherwise, increase the amount of time you spend marketing so you get some money in the door.

        1. 1

          At the moment it is still a side project so time is really limited. So I want to use my spare time efficient.

  6. 3

    Don't fear having a competition. As Chris said, having a competitor validates the idea. I will recommend every Indie Hacker to read 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Ries and Trout.

  7. 2

    They have yet to launch. We live in a world with 7.5 billion individuals. You are more than OK.

    Keep pushing along. They may be first to market but you are going to be able to sort out a competitive edge due to this. Wherever they fail/find problems, you need to take note and innovate to counter these issues. In turn, you will have happier users and quite frankly, probably pull some of their users.

    Good luck.

  8. 2

    Don't worry about it. See this video of an interview with Paul Graham at 31:22 for reasons why:

    https://youtu.be/4WO5kJChg3w?t=1882

    If anything it is validation that your idea is a good one.

  9. 2

    What is it? Hard to say if we check it out?

  10. 1

    Use what they’re doing to your advantage. Competitors provide free marketing advice.

    See what’s working and not working for them:

    • Which google search keywords are they ranking for?

    • What do their Facebook ads look like and does it seem like they’re working?

    • What are they priced at and how can you position against them?

    • What kind of content do they publish and what’s the response like?

  11. 1

    Execute better

    Seems like a no-brainer, but it gets forgotten too often

  12. 1

    I had a look at your product spec and I think it's an interesting idea. Is there any way you could target a particular niche with your product? For instance, could you make it for certain types of tenants like mothers with young kids? In the U.K. we have Netmums where mothers go to discuss various issues - do you have an equivalent of Netmums in the Netherlands? If so you can ask them what they would want or need from it from an app like yours.

    This might be a niche worth exploring as things like unmaintained stairwells would be particularly bothersome to someone with a pram.

  13. 1

    Some great advice already here. I'm encountering a similar problem. Some of my competitors are well funded and can afford to attend conferences around the world and woo customers that way.

    Can you short-circuit the process by releasing an early MVP for potential customers to try out? One advantage I found is that nearly all my competitors have 'contact us for a demo' whereas I had something potential customers could try out themselves, with their own documents, on a web page and Chrome extension.

    Perhaps your competitor may launch first, perhaps not. You could still get something out there before them if you cut it down to the essentials.

    Sometimes the bigger team can move more slowly. As already said, switch to sell mode and start approaching potential customers now. Start writing, blogging, tweeting and using LinkedIn (depending on where your users are).

  14. 1

    Having 12 developers doesn't mean is product is going to be better. Just work on the features you believe will be better than your competition.

    1. 1

      At the moment it does look better then what I have though.