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Is there such a thing as being defensible for an indie hacker project?

I read an interesting article on what it means to be defensibile for a startup.

being defensibile means competitors can’t catch you once you’re ahead

It made me think.
Is there such a thing for an indiehacker project?
What can make an indiehacker project defensibile?
Is there any example already existing?

Responses to these questions are not clear to me. What do you think?

PS: the article https://www.alexcrompton.com/blog/2017/05/26/hard-is-not-defensible

  1. 5

    IMHO, an indie hacker has two potential advantages that can translate into defensibility: adaptability and accountability.

    Adaptability: Because you're the only person working on the product, you should be able to adapt quicker to changes. You skip the communication overhead, giving you an ongoing lead.

    Accountability: Again, because you're the only person on the team, you can provide a superior customer experience, from first contact through to post-sale support. This can slowly build up into a strong reputation, which competitors can't just buy.

    That's just my 2 cents on the topic.

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      But if we have two (or more) indie hackers building similar products, neither of them are in entirely defensible positions because of their adaptability or accountability. I think the idea of needing to be defensible is not really a top priority when it comes to indie upstarts where the general idea is to become ramen-profitable.

  2. 2

    If defensibility is about not getting caught, then anything that is difficult to “catch up” on quickly is a good bet. Things that are difficult to build quickly, no matter how much money or people you have, include: trust, SEO ranking, reputation, domain expertise. As well as the advantages mentioned by others, I think patience is a big advantage for indie hackers. Another one is the ability to stay focused on a niche market, where defensibility is hopefully lower down the issues you’ll face!

    Examples wise, VEED have talked a lot about their SEO strategy, Balsamiq have a great reputation in their niche, and Less Annoying CRM have been building trust for 10 years plus.

  3. 1

    I recently made my Docker product 100% open source, in hopes that it will help achieve just this. I hope this will keep people from making a competitor.

  4. 1

    Yes absolutely!

    Once idea I recently read suggested that if you can choose between two implementation path with equal impact, always choose the more difficult one. Why? You're able to move quick and agile. Big competitors are not. You might surprise how slow moving a big company is. If they are difficult to solve for you with a relatively simple code base and organization structure, image how much more difficult it would be for a big competitor.

    That said, focus on agility and define what that means for your. For me personally it means that I should focus on code quality, because great code allows me to implement new features at a pace which makes my creative energy the limiting factor for shipping new things. Can't catch me if you spend more time shaving the yak than building new stuff.

    1. 1

      Just sharing this anecdotal evidence; last week I have spent three days implementing a signup form on the Skyhop landing page. While one can argue on whether that's time well spent, I'm pretty sure I would have had to spend multiple weeks at previous positions because the authentication infrastructure I got to work with back then was absolute shit.

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