My Framework for Evaluating Early-Stage Consumer Companies
As an early-stage consumer investor, my #1 question to founders almost always regards defensibility. It can be easy to get distracted by…
Investors care a ton about "defensibility," because it's hard to build a unicorn if everybody can simply copy what you're doing. Blue Apron got big, but then got crushed by endless competition.
You make your startup defensible by building moats. The most popular moats are a strong brand (e.g. Apple), network effects (e.g. Twitter), economies of scale (e.g. Amazon), and huge technological advantages (e.g. Intel). For example, Indie Hackers is hard to clone, because the forum has network effects that make it more valuable the more people it has.
For most indie hacker companies, moats aren't worth worrying about imo. You don't need to get to unicorn size and fend off the competition. Your #1 concern is just getting to profitability. That means growing, converting customers, and retaining them.
In fact, some of the scariest industries are the ones where people have strong moats, because they're the hardest to break into. It's probably better to enter an industry with weak moats (e.g. education), build a name for yourself, and then worry about moats later.