To Startups: Fear Yourself, Not Your Competition

To Startups: Fear Yourself, Not Your Competition

Written by Mark

Topics: Uncategorized

When you have a startup company, you’re taught to fear your competition.  Watch what they’re doing.  Analyze, compete, and conquer.  It seems intuitive to watch their every move, but certainly never get in touch with them.  This is just silly.

It’s more than likely your startup company will fail because of something you do, than what your competition does.

Whether it’s running out of money, co-founder split, technology fail, market fit failure, customer acquisition problems or any infinite number of things that can kill a startup.

Today a friend of mine reached out to me and asked if I had heard of ParkCirca.  I had and told him I spoke with the founder Chad a bunch of times and had some very good correspondence.  He was shocked and said, “But, you guys are are competitors?!??”

Two of the biggest challenges with a startup in a new industry are Education of the Market, and “share of mind”.

Educating the Market

Prepaying for parking ahead of time is a relatively new industry.  It takes time to educate the market.  In this case there is the educating of two groups:  Those listing their parking spots (parking garages, individuals, etc), and those purchasing parking ahead of time.  Each company that is out there expending effort educating each group helps us all.  If we gain a large foothold in Chicago, it will be that much easier for ParkCirca to expand here, and if they gain a huge foothold in San Francisco, it will be that much easier for SpotHero to expand there.  Should we thank each other for educating the market?  I think so.  Will I regret ever writing this post in the future?  Ha, maybe but I don’t think so.

Share of Mind

It’s incredibly difficult to get people to notice you.  Anytime the concept or company in your space is noticed it helps everyone in the fledgling industry.  If a competitor is mentioned there is sometimes a reference to competitors or companies doing similar things.  Whenever one of your competitors is noticed, there is a chance you too will be noticed.  Additionally, if a customer if willing to try out your competitor, they are more likely to try you out than someone who has never heard or had an experience with either company.

Expanding the Pie, Not Cannibalizing Sales

The market for parking is huge.  Nearly $30 Billion.  The companies gaining traction in this space have but a drop in the bucket in terms of overall market share.  This isn’t Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi.  The soft drink market is mature and saturated.  If someone buys Coca-Cola, Pepsi directly lost out on that sale and visa versa.  They are directly competing for the same pieces of pie.

The prepaid online reservation market is micro compared to how large the overall parking market is.  Each company in this vertical that is out there marketing, educating the market and “expanding share of mind” ends up helping us all.

Note:  I’ve also had correspondence with Ben from BestParking , Eugene from Parkopedia, and George of ParkHub all of whom are incredibly nice.

SpotHero is an online parking marketplace that allows you to reserve a parking spot ahead of time for example if you need Downtown Chicago Parking or are going to a Cubs Game and need Wrigley Field Parking.

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3 Comments Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Dave Ditmars says:

    Great blog! Thanks for the Google+ invite
    dave

  2. @nyyyia says:

    interesting startup idea! & great points- you’re right. most start-ups fail because of internal reasons. its simply best to look at “competitors” as a good thing and concentrate on home.

  3. Ophelie says:

    “Expanding the pie” is also the next step for startups once they’ve grown past startup-dom. The company I work for, Flippa, started out as a startup (two guys with laptops!) and is now a real, fully-fledged company, but we still face many of the challenges of a startup, and growing the pie is the most important thing.

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