Tools I Use: Competitive Intelligence and Analysis

As a startup advisor, I speak to dozens of startups per month. Competitive Intelligence and Analysis is one of the biggest gaps in knowledge for many entrepreneurs. They do not understand who their competitors are, how to find them, plot them, track them and understand how they differ until it is too late (and eat their lunch in front of them).

Competition did not just go away. It should not be ignored before starting any venture or project. In fact, before I start any project I look at the competition so I can understand it, find their strategy, strengths, weakness, opportunities, and tactics.

Rather than going on a 2000 word rant like I have in the past about how I do this and why you should too, I thought I leave it up to you by simply sharing a few books which can help you research this yourself since you have to do your own homework for your projects and ventures.

While many of the books on this topic out are amazingly out of date, there are a few books about this in the modern business world:

 

Advisor at UMD Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship

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Henrik de Gyor is now an Advisor at the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland, based at the Robert H. Smith School of Business in College Park, Maryland.

Henrik graduated from the University of Maryland a while back and is happy to give back to the community with his time and expertise.

Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship holds Dingman Fridays which are open office hours for students and alumni to walk in and get startup advice, regardless of the stage of their business idea or their major. This is exclusively for University of Maryland faculty, staff, students, and alumni.

Many universities now have an entrepreneurship center, unless they are behind the times. Today, students do not all expect to work for someone once they graduate, but rather work on their ideas before they graduate and potentially grow their own business.

To learn more about Dingman Fridays, visit http://www.rhsmith.umd.edu/centers-excellence/dingman-center-entrepreneurship/initiatives-programs/pitch-dingman

Running Startup Sprints

Just to be clear, I don’t run. These Sprints has nothing to do with physically running.

After reading the book called Sprint, this inspired me to try Sprint with a few startups.

Sprint book

As a mentor, I already help a number of startups so as an extension to this, Startups Ignite  organized Sprints for a  few startups with a small team of people with different perspectives to play the different roles the startups did already not have. Startups Ignite supplied the facilitators, myself being one of them.

What is a Sprint?

According to GV, “The sprint is a five-day process for answering critical business questions through design, prototyping, and testing ideas with customers. Developed at GV, it’s a “greatest hits” of business strategy, innovation, behavior science, design thinking, and more—packaged into a battle-tested process that any team can use.”

Running Sprints

This 5 day Sprint process should be a great learning experience for everyone. More Sprints may be scheduled again.

I am running a 5-day startup Sprint (over two weekends 6/3 to 6/5 and 6/11 to 6/12) for 4 startups at a co-working space. Not just myself, of course, but with 20 other engaged individuals.

Learn more about the Sprint process

I encourage anyone interested to read the book/ebook, listen to the audiobook and watch the videos of how to run a Sprint.

Let me know if you are interested in hearing more about it aside from the book.

I will add lessons learned once we have completed the four Sprints.