It’s stinking hard to compete with the monster companies in our industry. How can we? They raise lots of money, have crazy valuations, and have signed up all of the “cool” brands to use their software. They get to display all of those brands on their website for instant credibility. We don’t have all those things…unless we lie about it and swipe other companies logos of which we’ve never done business with. (You’d be surprised how many people do that) What the heck are we going to do with so much stacked against us?
So the first thing we’re going to do is read the success stories of companies that are similar to ours. We want to find the most transparent company that has actually been there and done that, instead of just talking about what they think should be done. It’s sort of like the college professors I had in school. Most of the time, the professor hadn’t had any success in the real world, so he fell back on working for the university. (That isn’t always the case but it happens a lot.) There is no substitute for real world experience.
The two most transparent blogs we found out there was Groove’s Blog and the famed Signal vs. Noise.
Groove is a ticketing system that we use to manage customer support requests. They started only few years ago and are already killing it. Even more intriguing is that they’re killing it without even having a mobile app. How do you even do that in today’s market? Their reasoning for not having a mobile app goes something like this…
We built a mobile app…and it sucked…so we don’t launch it.
You can’t help but respect the honesty. If we build something and it sucks…we’re not going to go to market with it. We’ll run with what we’ve built, emphasize the part that works and get as many happy customers as we can. Sometime that “lean startup” mentality can be taken to far and a company’s desire to launch kills a company right off the bat.
But the best thing I’ve picked up from Groove is that it doesn’t matter if there are big monopolistic players in the space you’d like to enter into. All you’ve got to do is build a simple product or service that works and you’re bound to grab a small percentage of the market share. Even if it’s less than 1% of the market share in a giant industry, you’re still going to kill it!
I watched Groove go straight into the lions den of Saas ticketing systems, competing against the likes of Zendesk, and yet here they are going from a few thousand dollars in recurring revenue to upwards of $400,000 dollars a month in recurring revenue. They don’t need to be billionaires. They don’t need to be #1. They don’t need to go public. They’re making a good living for themselves with a small team while giving the marketplace an option in the helpdesk space. Competition is always good. It keeps prices low, and makes companies innovate.
There will always be people willing to try your app. You will have no shortage of users that want to give you a chance and take your application for a test drive. If it sucks…they’ll leave, no harm done. But if you build it well enough, many of those people will have no desire to go and find the market leader. They just won’t. They’ll stick with you and your user base will grow.
You don’t have to be scared to enter a crowded market. In fact, a crowded market means that there is a lot of interest in the service you’re providing. You just have to figure out a way to provide that service well. At east you know there are plenty of customers up for grabs. Nothing is wrong with picking up a few scraps from the table. Those scraps could be worth a lot of money.
We’ve been developing Yalla off and on for the past 3 years. We initially built it because we couldn’t get everything we wanted out of Basecamp for our digital agency. We had no idea that it would become what it has become and that we’d be able to use it for all of our task, project, client, and process management. So once it was built, we sort of figured that there were a ton of people out there that might be having the same problem that we had with Basecamp and other project or task management platforms.
We have no illusions that were going to be bigger than Basecamp or Asana or any of the big players in our space…but we’re busting our tails here with a small bootstrapped team to make sure that the people that do give a chance want to stay with us. Keep in mind that “better” is always a subjective matter of opinion. We just have to be “better” in a few people’s minds in order for Yalla to be successful. You just have to impress a few people with your product or service to build a very profitable business.