A single low-cost flight can change a lot in the life of startups. Why? Because they stare at PC screens too much today. They often forget about direct interaction with their customers and competitors. Breaking this pattern brings surprising benefits, as the CEO of one of the companies with which I work recently illustrated.
He kept reading about a foreign rival here and there. How amazingly their solution works, how highly effective and user-friendly it is, etc. Investors and journalists wrote about it, and everything was incredibly consistent.
However, it was impossible to test it remotely, because it was not purely software, and the service itself was geographically limited. At some point he said to himself – that’s it – I have to verify it all myself. He bought a ticket, hopped on Ryanair, and took off…
On the spot, he tried to use the competitive product like a regular consumer: he bought access, placed orders, and checked. The effect was alarming – it turned out that this ‘amazing’ solution of the competition had error after error. The system simply crashed in many cases. The beautiful narrative created by the first investors and the media turned out to be far-fetched.
What’s more, it turned technologically inferior to the one that our hero offers on the Polish market. The latter not only has nothing to be ashamed of, but beats the tested product on the head. If he hadn’t tested it himself, he would never have known about it… Thanks to this, he gained confidence, gathered some interesting insights, and returned fully inspired to develop his company and to work with investors.
It was worth leaving the computer screen behind and instead of dwelling upon the opinions read, interact directly and test some things yourself. This type of information can completely change your company and even the market on which you operate.
The comment section had a few things to add:
Doesn’t this mean that there was something important that this CEO didn’t do, since a lot was written about such a weak competitor and less about him?
I know that the image in the media and advertising space is a matter of money. Maybe, unlike his rival, he just didn’t have enough budget to build his own brand.
Someone whom I don’t like once told me one apt thing – at some stage, a startup becomes a money-transfer machine to Google, Facebook, and Insta… A sensible international campaign, lasting a few months, is already millions. And unfortunately, this is needed to build awareness of the existence of a given solution, no matter how good it would be.
It is also worth flying to niche events and listening to how the competition is glorified and talk about their technological cuisine. Recently, one company that the whole fair talked about turned out to be quite a clever, but not at all sophisticated solution. And after 2 months they raised EUR 7M. For me, you don’t need a better motivation.
In addition, these few hours in airplane mode, without emails, notifications, phone calls. Love it!