When you launch a company suddenly everyone is a competitor, or so it feels.
Then you realize everyone you thought was a competitor might also be a partner at best, and a distraction at worst. Next you realize your idea is changing so rapidly, fueled by customer feedback and sleepless nights hacking on new features or just eating your own dogfood, that you aren’t totally sure how you fit with anyone anymore.
Today TechCrunch wrote that my company Referly is making gains against Bit.ly after their recent redesign stumble. We saw their launch and it lit the proverbial fire under our butts to ship our next set of features in a fraction of the time, which were somewhat similar to Bit.ly’s. It inspired us to move a lot faster. Creating the artificial constraint of Monday morning, and having a clear competitor, helped us focus and get a lot done while calmly ruling out all kinds of delicious feature creep.
Putting it in Perspective
Its funny, because in some ways we are very similar to Bit.ly and in others quite different — ultimately we are trying to skate to where the puck is going by building the sharing and rewards tools we think people will enjoy using. Just like us, our 99 competitors (or more!) are all trying to create engaging social sharing of products and other links – and this is hard. The battle is not won, and we are focused on becoming as formidably useful as possible.
Unlike a lot of other beautiful social sharing sites out there, we are revealling our business model from day one. You refer stuff, you earn rewards. No shenanigans (Hat tip: Twilio). While in beta we are passing through 100% of commissions to Referly users, but ultimately Referly will need to make money too – and when it comes time to do that we will be straightforward about that, too.
For now, we’re heads down writing code and talking to customers. Stay tuned, and please give Referly a try and let me know what you think in the comments or directly at danielle(at) refer.ly