One of the maxims of startup life is â€œEat your own dog food,â€ meaning use your products / services yourself, so you know what itâ€™s like for the customer. Iâ€™d like to add to that: Before your start eating your own dog food, make sure youâ€™ve eaten a lot of your competitorsâ€™. We all start with the idea that weâ€™re going to build something better than what our competitors are offering, but too often we miss out that there are at least some reasons why people continue to gobble down that disgusting gruel, and it might not be just because theyâ€™d starve otherwise.
Using your competitorsâ€™ products gives you a better awareness ofâ€¦
- The workflow many users youâ€™d like to convert are already used to.
- The features and concepts your competitors have created that are actually *good*.
- The most acute pain points their users are feeling. (And donâ€™t just assume the ones you feel are the ones everyone feels! Find forums where the products are being discussed and participate!)
- Uses for their product your competitor didnâ€™t intend. These may open your eyes to new product or market opportunities.
Eat your competitorsâ€™ dog food. It will make it that much easier to eat their lunch.