Startup Playbook Episode 8: Dealing with Competition

If you’ve been in the trenches with your team working hard on building your product, it may feel disorienting to look up from your own work and see that other product teams are moving into your space. You may notice that those groups are building similar things (sometimes very similar things). This is the moment in which a competition strategy needs to come into play.

What is the best way to deal with competition? Is it better to keep tabs on every move a competitor makes, or to ignore what others are doing in favor of focusing on your own goals?

Knowing how to outpace competition is a difficult yet essential part of entrepreneurship. New startups may feel tempted to overtake the success of industry titans, but larger companies often have more resources, employees, and brand recognition than small startups typically do.

Yet there are strategies small product teams can employ to effectively take on competition. Matt Schlict, CEO of Octane AI, has developed a methodology that has worked for his team, which he shared on the new episode of the Startup Playbook podcast series.


Octane AI is an automated AI messaging product that ecommerce companies can use to chat with their customers. Through the process of building the product, Matt has a learned a great deal about how to approach competing companies. His approach shifts based on the stage of each competing company; large companies, for example, deserve less of his attention at the moment because they operate at a level that’s unrelated to what he is doing. Mid-sized companies that have attained some traction, on the other hand, are worth watching—both for inspiration and for detecting threats to market share.

The cornerstone of Matt’s competition philosophy is to focus on a vertical. He also stresses the importance of creating and participating in content platforms (such as the magazines about chatbots and ecommerce that Octane AI launched) in order to establish a credible voice in a specific industry.

To hear more of his wisdom, listen to episode 8 of the Startup Playbook on iTunesSoundCloud, or wherever you get your podcasts.