The Beginners' Guide to Gut Checking your Competition by@parker

The Beginners' Guide to Gut Checking your Competition

image
Parker Rex HackerNoon profile picture

Parker Rex

I build software companies.

I’m Parker.

image

When I’m not busy highjacking swole Bezos’ figure for clout, I build software (startup dropping soon) for a living and talk about product management on YouTube. My last go was helping build Delivery Dudes to acquisition. Think UberEATS except instead of a $15-$20 average ticket, we did $50-$60 average ticket based on the service area. I joined when we operated in 3 cities and helped scale to 84, building all the product along with the way with the help of 2 talented engineers.

I learned a lot about building products, sizing up audiences, figuring out what users wanted. That was the product side of things. Beyond that I thought a lot about our scary competitors like UberEATS, DoorDash, etc. At the time both were still privately held companies.

When companies are private, they have the choice to disclose if they are growing or not. Companies can manipulate their image in the press, and create a lot of noise. Many companies practice “Peacocking” - a way to appear better on paper than reality. The practice is very popular for companies trying to get bought. ps. you want to get bought, not sell.

image

There are a few tools you can use to help size up a company. This 10 minutes exercise gives you a better idea of how a competitor is performing. You’re not going to get something that reverses engineers a P&L, but you will get a directional idea of how the company is doing.

Some easy indicators for gut checking a company.

  • Total traffic
    • Is the company acquiring more users? Are there more folks arriving to the site?
  • Google traffic
    • how are they ranking on SEO? if they’re crushing it maybe take a look at their blog/marketing strategy to see what’s working for them.
  • Number of links
    • Are they getting publications? Are they building their internet presence?
  • Careers page
    • Are they hiring tons of engineers?
    • Is it bare?
  • CrunchBase profile
    • Is the company on a fundraising sprint?

The Tools

  1. Similarweb

This one’s a breeze. Head to the Google Chrome Store (assuming you use that because…. market share).

image

Snag the extension and pin it up on the top right. If you don’t see it you’ll need to go to your extensions and then select “pin”.

From there, it’s as easy as visiting a site and clicking that little indicator on the top right. It’s a dynamic indicator meaning the icon will fill up if the site has more traffic, and vice versa if the site has little traffic.

image

Once you click it, a slider will fling open, and voila… You’ve got traffic estimates and more!

image

Why is this helpful? Well, here’s an example. I want to connect with folks in software dev. I hadn’t been on Hackernoon in months and recently got an email from them. I checked their traffic and was surprised at the growth the publication had gained since I last checked the site. That triggered my idea to share this piece.

There’s a ton of stuff in the SimilarWeb panel above including:

  • Global rank
  • Country rank
  • Category rank
  • Visits over time
  • Bounce rate
  • Pages per visit
  • Monthly visits
  • Avg visit duration
  • Geo by country
  • Traffic source breakdown..

For instance, I see Hackernoon gets most of their traffic from Search:

image

2. Neil Patel

image

Yes, that bald guy that shows up everywhere. He and his team built a tool that analyzes a website for the following:

  • Number of links linking to you
  • Number of visitors from google by competitors
  • Looks at your category and finds your competitors

That tool brings him in a ton of new client work because it tells them how much room for improvement they have…

Go to his site and enter your website URL.

We’ll use Hackernoon in this case. It’ll run through a series of steps that look like this:

image

image

image

image

Cool. You’re continuing to shape up what this company is all about. Are things as peachy as they speak about in the press?

Crunchbase

Did the company raise money?

Are they on round F and their traffic is going down? That’s bad.

Are they bootstrapped and growing? If you’re an angel investor, slide into their founder’s DMs.

Crunchbase is a database for companies to share fundraising information. It’s industry standard and a great tool for learning more about a companies financials. Not always accurate, but directionally helpful.

image

You get:

  • Companies founding location
  • Number of employees
  • Status (private, round level, IPO)
  • URL
  • Ranking on CB
  • Exits
  • Investments
  • Number of acquisitions

Careers Page

This one gets thrown off if the company is bootstrapping. In that case, the founder will not want to add overhead and will stay under the radar.

Career pages explode the second round of funding lands in the bank. Let’s look at DoorDash who recently had a solid IPO.

When DoorDash came into Delivery Dudes territory they had just raised a TON of money which I wrote about here in 2018.

I was looking at their career page and WOW did it have a lot of folks.

Now they have more cash than ever and just take a look. Your thumb may fatigue from the number of scrolls required to browse all the open positions.

Same thing if the company is private. Check out their career page. It’s always accessible by visiting the footer of the site.

image

image
That’s a lot of positions and you don’t even see the “show more positions button at the bottom.

Again, this is a late-stage, post-IPO company. But the same exercise can and should be done on a private company when trying to get an idea of their financials.

You the bomb

If you enjoyed this article, give my YouTube channel a visit.

Recent videos cover:

Comments

Signup or Login to Join the Discussion

Tags

Related Stories