A2 Competitors: Discovering the Competitive Landscape

Business ideas will be evaluated by assessing customer needs and comparing against competitive solutions. The goal for students is to triangulate data sources, and to become relative experts on the constraints and issues that shape a particular problem space.

Learning Goals

  • Assessing the needs/desires of each type of stakeholder
    • Creating a competitive analysis to compare different ways of solving a problem


What to do

    1. Topic: As a team of two, agree on the topic for your business venture, not the specific venture, per se.
    2. Online data gathering: Create a shared document for your team to pool any information available through online records. Capture specific problems encountered, personal anecdotes, statistics, competing solutions, etc. For each piece of information, be sure to include a link to the source.
    3. Assess Needs/Desires: Make a list of all of your potential stakeholders and for each one write a list of potential needs/desires. Make sure to devote time to think this through. Your team could start by assessing the needs of each type of stakeholder along the spectrum suggested by Blank, 2013:
      • Has a need
      • Is aware of having a need
      • Been actively looking for a solution
      • Assembled a solution out of parts
      • Has a budget to put towards this need
  1. Competitors: Perform a deep competitive analysis based on the key needs/desires identified. What exists already that could solve this problem? If the competitor is another app, download the app and try it. If the competitor has a storefront, visit the store and observe how the business treats customers.
    1. List the key features/advantages, as well as the limitations, for each competitor. Create a matrix that illustrates what's available and what's missing in the current competitive landscape.
    2. PEST/Value Flow diagrams: Create (or update) your PEST factors and your value flow diagram. PEST and Value Flow models essentially express a hypothesis for your business idea. It's important that your team continually updates your underlying hypotheses. Feel free to leverage material from A1 (from any classmate). Your value flow diagram should include all stakeholders potentially affected by your business concept. To make it clear how your business concept can be disruptive, first create a model that illustrates the value flow for the current marketplace (e.g., maybe pick a competitor to illustrate), then modify this in a second model to show how your new business concept could change the market.
  2. Ideation prompts: Write a list of three "How Might We" questions that can guide brainstorming on your topic around the most important unmet needs/desires of your key stakeholders. For example, "How might we help drivers who have just crashed to alert key people? How might we document the scene after a car crash?"
    1. Information slide deck: Create a slide deck that:
      • Motivates the topic space (use stats, quotes, anecdotes, or your PEST analysis to introduce your topic)
      • Discusses the key stakeholders and their needs/desires
      • Tours the competitive landscape (include details about the closest competitors and show a matrix that provides an overview)
      • Shows a value flow model for the current market and for your proposed business concept
      • Ends with key "How Might We" questions
      • Here are good examples of A2 from last year: Photography, Job Development, & Entertainment
    2. Pitch slides: Create a shorter slide deck that:
      • Introduce the topic (use stats, quotes, anecdotes, or your PEST analysis to introduce your topic)
      • Describe a scenario that introduce key stakeholders and their needs/desires
      • Shows a value flow model for the current market and for your proposed business concept
      • Be ready to present your research in class on Jan 23rd (2 minutes max)


Your team should create a Google Drive folder here. Name it based on your topic not the business name; branding will come later (e.g. Topic_Lastname1_Lastname2_Lastname3). Put your work in it, except for items you wish to keep private. Your folder should have:

  • Data gathering (shared Google doc)
    • Raw information (e.g., anecdotes, stats, etc. with URL citations)
    • List of stakeholders and the corresponding needs/desires
    • Matrix of current competitors and opportunity gaps
    • Presentation slide deck (with all the content mentioned above)
      • Introduction of topic (basically a short synthesis of your data gathering above)
    • Key stakeholders and their needs/desires
      • Competitive analysis, including the matrix
    • Value Flow diagrams (current and proposed)
    • List of "How might we" questions
  • Short slide deck for in-class pitches

Be ready to present during class on Jan 23 (2 minutes max). Sign up your team for A2 presentations here.

A2 Deliverables Due: before class begins on Jan 23rd.