The TownhallBusiness

Finding your competitive edge as a Startup

By John C. Baldwin 

Preparation is key when building a business – particularly a startup. While a few things are uncertain in the tech space, others always remain true. 

Being asked about your competition and how they’re tackling it is one. Working in Silicon Valley, you begin to understand the demands of investors. If you have a great executive team, they will share insights into the VC world. One of my previous bosses was great at that! 

They were transparent about how much runway they had and their metrics to get to the next funding round. Prior to working with these founders, I thought competition was a terrible thing. It is not, especially when you’re offering a competitive edge to what they are. 

Competition also validates your business too. No one would be in the same field, if there was no opportunity in the market. Before diving into FENDR, I think it’s best to look at brands we are aware about first. What better brands to explore than media.  

Think about popular television channels: ABC, CBS, and FX to name a few. Granted, they all air original content, local, and national news, but their primetime lineup is quite different. 

Each channel appeals to a different type of viewer. ABC is home to Grey’s Anatomy, the now defunct Scandal, and Private Practice. ABC’s target demographic are metropolitan professional women. It’s reflected in their shows. Their shows have a female protagonist and usually at the top of their career. 

Shonda Rhymes became a household name because of her lucrative partnership with ABC and ShondaLand. CBS primetime lineup, on the other hand, focuses on the good guys. The good guys always win. From Blue Bloods to NCIS, by the end of each episode we can relax knowing the criminals are where they need to be. 

Then there’s FX. It’s grittier, edgier, and seemingly nothing is off limits. From American Horror Story to Nip/Tuck, these shows spare no expense and leave little to the imagination. 

At the same time, founders shouldn’t focus too much on competition because there are ways to outshine the competition. ScoonTV is a news aggregator and produces original content. The new content creator is politically agnostic and listens to those who have an opinion they want to share, irrespective of their political stance.  

FENDR has a competitive edge because no one truly addresses all the needs of a car crash victim. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking just because there is not a place that handles the needs of car crash victims from start to finish, that we do not have competition. Our competition includes Yelp! and insurance companies. 

We have a few advantages over those in the current ecosystem though. Mainly because our goal is to assist crash victims with the financial hurdles they face after an accident along with receiving the proper medical and legal assistance. 

Yelp! Is our competition for obvious reasons – it offers the same merchants and services as we wish to offer. However, we will differ because the personal injury attorneys will have relevant information on the client prior to meeting the prospect. 

Insurance companies are our competition because they offer trust, value, and due diligence. While consumers may have grievances with insurance companies, there’s a bit of trust there because of years of relationship building. Drivers must have auto insurance, so that gives insurance companies a slam dunk advantage. 

It is important to add, that while insurance companies have an advantage, we too have an advantage–a new opportunity for drivers.  

If there’s one thing the internet has shown us, it’s that people like convenience. How can you assist in helping me solve my problems efficiently? 

Accidents have been around since the car’s inception. In all that time, insurance companies haven’t assisted in making the auto accident industry more transparent and easier for the victim to navigate. Don’t be fooled, that is intentional. Now, let’s think about the emotional mindset customers are in when using these websites.  

Millions of Americans are involved in auto accidents each year. When they call personal injury attorneys, their insurance companies, or even just searching for services, they’re in a state of panic. “How am I going to pay my deductible? Will my insurance go up? Was I at fault?” These are a few questions people think about when handling an accident. 

These are tasks that must get completed and be resolved. The victims are using these companies and services in despair and panic. No one calls their insurance provider unless something is wrong. Call me insane, but what if our goal was to ultimately change the emotions consumers face when contacting us? 

We want their mindset to be “I’ve been in this horrible accident, but FENDR helped my friend, and they will assist me.” Without sounding generic, we want our brand to demonstrate frustration but trust among our customers. 

They know they need assistance, and they know our partners on our platform are there to assist. For new founders and those that will enter the entrepreneur circuit soon, have you thought about your competitive advantage? If you haven’t, there’s no time like the present.  

Often, we focus too much on competition. What does your business offer that your competitors do not? Think of not only the demographics but the psychographics of your consumer. 

People don’t make decisions because of their physical characteristics. Often, it is the psychological attitudes and values that aid in the decision making. What about pricing? You could offer the same service as your two top competitors, but what value are they getting? Is it personalization or differentiation? Hulu differentiates itself from YouTubeTV because it creates original content versus YouTube which simply shows content from its channel lineup.  

For those that would like, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter. If you’re an entrepreneur, let’s discuss your venture and ways to separate you from the competition.

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John C. Baldwin

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