The Art of Driving Your Competition Crazy," Silicon Valley venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki wrote, "you cannot drive your competition crazy unless you understand their strengths and weaknesses." Kawasaki undoubtedly knows what he's talking about, and his advice - while almost 4 years old - still rings true today.In a blog post from 2006 titled, "
If you've got a great idea for a startup, knowing as much about your potential competitors is invaluable, and the people behind Competitious know this as well as anyone. That's why they created their handy application for keeping close tabs on the competition.
Developed by RivalSoft, the makers of RivalMap, Competitious is a free service that allows users to collaborate on numerous projects for tracking industry competitors. You and your team can gather and collect news clips, build feature comparison matrices and keep an eye on traffic trends with Alexa data.
The comparison matrix feature is very useful and we here at ReadWriteWeb are even putting this feature to use in researching an upcoming report. However, entering in individual features for each company can become a bit tedious.
It would have been nice to see Competitious offer a list of popular companies whose core features could be automatically placed into a matrix. Users would also benefit from suggested competiors for any given company based on what other users are comparing, but perhaps these features are on Competitious' roadmap for the future.
The traffic graphs can only be seen if your competitors are ranked in the top 100,000 on Alexa, which can be a problem for small business with equally small competition. Competitious does claim, however, that they are working on "a much more robust traffic system" for their post-beta release.
In the meantime, free site analytics services like Compete and Quantcast can provide data for those hard-to-reach sites. Despite its early flaws, with the ability to easily compare any number of companies in a side-by-side fashion, Competitious is a convenient solution for researching that "competitors" slide in your startup's pitch presentation.