Product Development October 17, 2020

How to handle competition among indie hackers?

Santiago M. Quintero @SantiagoM

Hi iH, I love this community, it is made up of cool creative people with good values, and that is why I want to act with care and good faith :)

My question is both general and specific. To start with the general one, how to handle competition among fellow indie hackers? As the community grows and many of us are building openly it's natural that eventually, we will be colliding within the same market, with little IP to protect our ideas.

Now to the specifics: I started building Twitter Growth a couple of weeks ago, motivated by the fact that in order to sell anything! a thriving Twitter account was a natural first step, similarily as to how Linkedin works for employees.

As I was preparing a soft launch here in IH, I stumbled with the Twitter group and browsing through some posts, I found I built a better Twitter analytics tool and How to Grow Your Twitter Audience from Scratch.

The issue with the first post is that while the tool promoted in the first post and the one I developed, have different purposes, features, and quality. To a certain extent, they could be considered as "substitutes" for a subset of customers. Given that my business plan involved onboarding the first batch of users for free once the MVP was ready. I might be hurting @dr business, which is not my intention. What would be then the best approach to deal in that regard?

The issue with the second post is that, as I was doing research on how to grow a Twitter audience, I've noticed that replying to high-follower accounts was a good strategy, but I was nowhere close as to how @simplisticallysimple summarizes the strategy in his post. When browsing through his product it came to my surprise, that what was advertised in his very popular post is not part of his product! Would it be ethical, to grab some of the concepts exposed on the post and turn them into features for Twitter Growth?

I'm looking forward to hearing thoughts from you.
Dearly,

  1. 5

    Email them and talk to them. This might not work out all the time, but it helps to have a dialogue even with competitors. Often I find myself just pinging them a quick hello email or jumping on a call to find out more about what they are doing, and let them know my plans or what I've worked on. Sometimes we both realize we're working in the same industry but have vastly different perspectives and methods.

    As I work on my newsletter, I constantly reach out to other newsletters in the same space and find it rewarding to shout each other out. I know this is not the same situation for products.

    Also, even small business model changes can keep you from competing with each other. One could be a recurring fee and the other a Lifetime Deal.

    or one could have a concierge white glove service while the other is self serve.

    I think you'll discover this difference are huge for customers. And these differences are existential to each founder's lifestyle and experience.

    1. 1

      Thank you @AndrewKamphey, for your well-thought advice. Writing the post certainly help clarify my ideas, and cleansed as well, by exposing them publicly.

      I'll probably need a couple more days to digest, and reach out directly by email as you rightfully suggest.

      To my present understanding, an ethical code of conduct when competing between IHs could be summarized as: "Markets are huge, collaborate as much as possible."

  2. 3

    I would also add that there is enough space for everyone. In the long term person that wants the most more likely will win. When you look closer, you will realise that most projects people are starting here but never finish for various reasons. And nobody can be you. You can have a similar product, but one brilliant feature can bring a lot of attention to your business.

  3. 2

    When browsing through his product it came to my surprise, that what was advertised in his very popular post is not part of his product! Would it be ethical, to grab some of the concepts exposed on the post and turn them into features for Twitter Growth?

    Founder of Zlappo here.

    My answer is: Sure. All is fair in love and war.

    That said, in my experience, our users of prefer a hybrid approach to Twitter, where they delegate to software what software does best (e.g. scheduling posts, auto-retweeting your best old content, auto-plugging your offer if any tweet goes viral, etc.) and they want to engage manually for other things, e.g. commenting, engaging on their timeline/feed, other real-time interactions, etc.

    Not everything can or even should be automated when it comes to growing your Twitter account.

    You said you want to somehow automate "commeting on high-follower accounts."

    How do you intend to turn that into an automated workflow?

    I'd imagine something like a List feature where you summarize the best recent tweets from the high-follower accounts whose followings you want to leverage upon?

    1. 1

      Hi Jay, thanks for reaching out!

      Yeah, you got it right I was not thinking of automation, not only because crafting responses is difficult, but it also may be against Twitter policies. As for the list, it is already a part of Tweeter Growth under the Keywords table.

      What I liked about your post is how you explain what constitutes a good reply, I would aim to quantify those four-axis you explain.

      I hope we can collaborate, especially in our sales/marketing efforts. As I see it, given that we are in the same space with a differentiated product and targeting different personas. I think that if we both decide to target the same potential customer, by giving them the opportunity to choose, there would be increasing possibilities for either of us to make a sale, as compared that if we approach the sale independently.

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