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Good stuff. Personally, I've been spending a lot more time lately getting serious about strategic thinking, doing competitive analysis and formulating meaningful strategies instead of just "winging it" so much.

The book Outhink The Competition[1] really inspired me to start down this path. There's some good stuff in there, and that led to me finally picking up my copy of Porter's Competitive Strategy[2] and digging in. I take this seriously enough now, that I wrote a quick and dirty internal app just for managing competitive intelligence and keeping track of documents and links related to competitive analysis and strategy formulation.

Which, when you think about it, is a Good Thing. I mean, if you're talking to an investor and they say "how do you intend to compete with $FOO?" It's probably good to have a solid understanding of exactly how you intend to do that, instead of just saying "Oh, we'll out execute them." Especially when you choose to play in crowded markets like we do[3]...

[1]: http://www.amazon.com/Outthink-Competition-Generation-Strate...

[2]: http://www.amazon.com/Competitive-Strategy-Techniques-Indust...

[3]: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4054540

Seems like if you could automate your app a little you might have a decent app targeted for the startup crowd :)

Funny you would mention that. This app has been so useful to me already, that I've considered making a SaaS offering out of it. If I don't do that, we might just release it as open-source. Or both. The biggest argument against making a SaaS offering out of it, is that this type of app isn't really core to what we're doing, and I'm worried that it would just turn into a distraction.

Open sourcing it would seem like a nice way to potentially have other people help make a product better for you that isn't your core product.

Or do what I think 37signals should have done with sortfolio. Start a subsidiary and put 1-2 people removed from your company in charge of it. That way you still own the IP, but you aren't required to focus on it.

Heh, I don't think we're big enough for a subsidiary yet. :-) But yeah, at some point I think we'll do something with it, even if it's just putting it up on Github. We're an Open Source startup anyway (as in, all of our core offerings are Open Source / AL 2.0 licensed), so doing that kind of thing is in our DNA.

Set it up as an internal SaaS tool. After you and others on your team have 'eaten your own dogwood' for a while, then start selling it. Even if it is a sideline product, it's still worth pursuing.

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