Guest Post: Ruchit Garg, CEO, 9Slides — Wannapreneurs, Customer Focus and Competition Anxiety

I have met numerous wanna-preneurs over coffee meet-ups where folks have ditched their idea after working on it for long, simply because they found a successful competitor. Really?

Ruchit Garg, CEO of 9Slides, an app which synchronizes speaker tracks with slides

Why do you worry about having competitors? I think it’s a reason to celebrate.

Here is why I think so:

  • You now have market proof of your base idea. Imagine how much you might have spent on trying to discover that.
  • You now have a reference point, enabling you to get started and ‘pitch’.
  • You now have to-dos and not-to-dos in what you are attempting to do.
  • You now have some folks who already have experience in the same domain who can potentially power your company when you are ready to hire.

If this is your first company, believe me, the above are so valuable that otherwise you would spend tremendous amount of time and money before you are in business.

Instead of worrying about competition, you need to focus on customers. Remember, you are in the business (or trying to be in it) because you have this great idea/product/service you want to serve/sell/provide to your customers and not because you want to beat that competitor.

I personally spend several hours every week talking to our trial and paid users of 9SLIDES in order to understand their motivations and things which would make them happy customers. That contact point will be where new ideas and revenue generation will originate. It won't be happening just sitting in the office, dreaming up something with which nobody can compete. Customers, as it turns out, are just as nimble as you would want to be. You kind of have to learn from them how to adjust your sails. 

If you do it right with focus on customers, you can win over customers and change the ball game. But if you sweat about competitor and spend energies on trying to find ways to defeat them, believe me you are more likely to lose it.

Moreover, even if you don’t have competitor today, you would have at least one tomorrow. They could start late and can raise LOT of money and appear to be huge. At that point, what makes more sense -- raising a bigger round than they, or having a cadre of customers who love the product you made for them, and with them? I think it makes sense what the logical conclusion should be. 

Ruchit Garg is serial tech entrepreneur working on his next startup called 9SLIDES. He can be followed on twitter @ruchitgarg or can be reached over email at 

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