Market research is a crucial aspect of launching a startup. It helps you get rid of some of the uncertainties associated with startups. Of course, you can never be too sure about anything. But market research tools help you understand your customers and industry better.
There are two aspects to market research: customers and competition. In this article, we will be focusing on researching your competition. How big is the market for your startup? Which are the top startups in your field? What is the level of investment your industry has attracted? Which locations has your idea been tested in? And of course, who are your direct and indirect competitors?
These are important questions that give you an insight to what has been done so far in your industry, and the possible ways in which you can disrupt it. Researching your market is as important as getting feedback from your customers, and should not be neglected by startups.
Top market research tools for startups
There are a number of databases of private companies and startups that help you get a better understanding of how big your market actually is. Some of these databases are crowdsourced, i.e. the data is entered by startup founders themselves or by followers of the company. The other databases have their own software to build their database.
Without further ado, here are some top market research tools that startups can leverage:
- Free startup databases
Started in 2007 by Mike Arrington as a database to track the startups covered by TechCrunch, CrunchBase has now evolved into a platform for angel investors, entrepreneurs and analysts to track startup information. The data on CrunchBase is crowdsourced, which means anyone can edit it. However, the company has several processes in place to make sure the data submitted is accurate. You can find startups by location, industry, funding received as well as acquisitions on CrunchBase. This is a good starting point to find popularity of certain industries among investors and locations. Additionally, the platform also offers information about startup events and accelerator programs.
Another well-known startup database, AngelList offers something for everyone, whether you are a startup, an investor or looking for a startup job. You can filter startups by market, location, size of team, salaries offered, investment, and the stage they are at. This is a great platform to gauge investor interest in your sector, which investors to approach and at what stage. You can also find out accelerators and incubators for your startup.
These can be invaluable to a startup founder when conducting market research. Whether you want to find out which are the top startups in your field and city, or startup accelerators and coworking spaces in your locality, startup directories such as StartupBlink can help you figure it out. Some startup directories help you get early user feedback and reviews, while some are focused on certain categories such as software. Beware though, there are hundreds of startup directories and hardly any of them offer valuable data. Check out our list of top startup directories to help you get started.
Being the largest database of websites on the web, Google is an invaluable resource to figure out who your competition is. Search for keywords related to your business and find out who the top contenders are in your market. Of course, some of these may simply be great at SEO, but nevertheless it is a good exercise to figure out where your business stands.
- Paid private company information databases
UpLead is a B2B prospecting tool that provides you instant access to 30+ million contacts. You can filter by 50+ criteria to find your ideal next customers and download their direct contact information to excel.
CB Insights is the quintessential market research company for private companies. It tracks valuable data about industries and investors that helps businesses take important decisions such as M&A, entry in new markets and exits. Their various reports include industry analytics, market mosaic, venture capital, M&A and IPOs, dealmakers, strategy and consulting. The different data on CB Insights is acquired directly via investors, banks and lawyers, as well as through in-house software.
Positioned as a company to build lists of prospects and track companies, Unomy has 7M companies on its platform. It can be used by startups to generate leads with contact details, monitor their competition and explore new business opportunities. The platform offers a ton of valuable data including related companies, competitors, investments, news, press releases, website ranking, traffic insights and estimated revenue. It can be a great tool to monitor your competitors’ progress and improve your own.
Targeted more at companies than investors, Data Fox not just gives you information about your industry but also about your customers, what “triggers” them to interact with your product, as well as targeting prospective customers. It does of course offer you information about your competitors and industry in general, including product launches, hiring and funding activities. It has a free basic plan that you can use for tracking companies and a paid plan to find and target prospects.
It provides financial intelligence for private companies. Its data is collected through news and industry sources as well as regulatory filings by the companies. The data is then analysed by professionals and made available to its clients. It has over 854,000 private companies and 19000 investors on its database.
Index is a product of The Next Web, that collects data from all over the web about the biggest tech companies and presents it as structured data. It can be used by businesses to track companies and create custom lists. Companies can be filtered by market, location and investors.
- Websites for analysing competitor traffic
Want to figure out which websites have the highest traffic stats in your niche? Similar Web comes to your rescue! Using Similar Web, you can also figure out other useful information about your competitors’ traffic such as its main sources, audience interests and countries it is most popular in.
Alexa is a highly useful tool for gaining insights into your competitors’ traffic, and also to see whether your marketing efforts are in the right direction. You can figure out which website in your market is most popular with users and what strategies it uses to achieve the same.
SEMrush is a popular SEO tool that specializes in keyword research, competitor analysis and Google Ad campaign optimization. It is especially useful when spotting competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and making relevant adjustments to your marketing strategy.
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In a world that is highly data driven, startups can minimize errors by delving into the large amounts of data at their disposal. But before you dive into the data, be sure you know what you are looking for. While the many tools listed above are great, they can also be overwhelming if you simply look at the raw data.