As a solo founder, how can one compete with large players?

Recently, there are more and more Shopify app developers joining the game. After I released my second Shopify app, BYOB, I’ve been thinking what is the best marketing strategy for a solo founder. Compared with large players, we have

  1. Less time. So we cannot offer more features a short time
  2. Less marketing budget. We don’t have resources to boost traffics
  3. No dedicated customer support teams. Cannot offer live chat support

I believe that Shopify is trying to use authentic reviews to improve AppStore ranking. In other words, reviews are contributing to a high weighting to the ranking formulae.

The positive cycle

  1. Get more reviews
  2. Higher AppStore ranking
  3. More traffics
  4. More users
  5. More usage
  6. More 💰 (Given that you have a moderate monetization strategy)
  7. More improvements
  8. More reviews?! => Step 1 again

Well, it means that if you can get more reviews, you’ll have a guaranteed success. Because reviews lead to more traffics and money.

Easier than said, how can a solo founder get more reviews?

Conventional startup wisdom

With the traditional startup approach (the lean startup), it encourages the startup teams to iterate as fast as possible. Get user feedback, improve the product, get more users. Grow as fast as you can

But this approach usually works for VC-funded startups. That’s why YC encourages it. This is how they make money from startups. Of course, they want to make fast money. Who doesn’t love fast money? 💸

For bootstrap founders, we often lack the resources to apply this lightning strategy

What about if the opposite is true?

As a solo founder, no matter how hard you work, you can’t work faster than a 2-person, 3-person, or bigger team.

Even If you are skillful or have more experience, you can hardly catch up in a long run. Because you only have 8 hours a day.

Therefore, why work so fast?

Focus on EACH user. Deliver the best to help them. Offer personalized service just like your friends.

There is NO single software company that can do so because they all focus on speed. If your performance pecks with KPI / OKR or whatever benchmarks, you can only move fast.

Cannot work on new features? OK, postpone it. You’re not running a short sprint anyway

A startup can compete on the speed of delivering more features. I am competing with my slowness.

Spending more time on existing users

Do It Slowly 🐢

That’s what I learn today

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