Amir Salihefendić+ Your Authors @amix3k Remote-first Founder/CEO of @doist, the company behind @todoist and @usetwist. Born in Bosnia 🇧🇦, grew up in Denmark 🇩🇰, 2x dad 😊 Jul. 24, 2020 3 min read + Your Authors

0/ 🧵 At Doist, we have for 10+ years competed against Google, Microsoft, and Apple in the hyper-competitive market of todo apps. Some thoughts follow on how you can compete against trillion-dollar Goliaths.

I'll start with examples, and end with core principles.

1/ Some examples of companies that have successfully done it:
📹 Zoom built a $50bn+ company in a market where the Goliaths have operated for years.
🎧 Spotify built a $50bn+ company and a market leader in music as they competed head-on against Apple and Google.

2/ Some more examples:
🗂 Dropbox built a $10bn company even when Goliaths are preinstalling their solutions with their operative systems.
🛒 Shopify built a $100bn+ company in an e-commerce market dominated by Amazon.

3/ 🌐 Apart from the multi-billion dollar companies, there are many smaller companies like Doist, Zapier, Superhuman, Figma, Notion, etc. that do tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in yearly revenue. For Goliaths, $100M in ARR is a rounding error.

4/ 💡 I could keep listing examples, but let's look at core principles of how to compete against Goliaths. Goliaths aren't invincible, and they are more vulnerable than we think.

5/ 🕸 Base your go-to-market strategy on network effects. Network effects are hard to copy, and they are much cheaper than ad-based or sales-based strategies. Most of the companies that win big over Goliaths is because of network effects. 

6/ 👌 Your service needs to be amazing. You'll lose if your offering becomes the same or mediocre. Firefox is an excellent example of how you can get run over if you lose your edge. Firefox didn't lose because Google played dirty, but because Google built a much better browser.

7/ 🔀 You need to be differentiated, and you can't compete directly. Shopify is thriving because they are a platform, and Amazon is an aggregator. Shopify would have little chance if they weren't radically different from Amazon. 

8/ 👽 Conway's Law says that you'll ship your org chart. So pick a company structure that looks radically different from a big corporation. For example, be remote-first or embrace open-source. Don't look or act like them. 

9/ 😍 Love what you do! At Doist, we have a deep passion for creating the best todo app in the world. For a Goliath, todo apps are a top 1000 priority, and they don't put their best people on this priority. A Goliath won't go out of business if their todo app fails (we will!)

10/ 👴 Plan, and do for the long-term. Goliaths don't have most things figured out. If you've ever worked in or with a Goliath, you will understand that they are engines of chaos, politics, and inefficiency. An example is Google's messaging hell: 

11/ ☠️ Big companies should not be your biggest fear. "What you should fear, as a startup, is not the established players, but other startups you don't know exist yet. They're way more dangerous than Google because, like you, they're cornered animals." 

12/ 🎉 If you build something that grabs Goliaths' full attention, then it's likely an excellent problem to have! Slack is under siege by Microsoft and Google, but on the bright side, they've built at $15bn+ company with millions of customers and thousands of employees.

13/ 0️⃣ This isn't a zero-sum game, and you don't need to become a multi-billion dollar company. We need more companies that do this:

• Create great jobs where ambition and balance are in check
• Make meaningful things that are loved by people
• Do it in a sustainable way

14/ That's it! Thanks for attending my TED talk 😅

You can follow @amix3k.


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