Got 99 Competitors And Bit.ly Is One

7177404771_67232c5699

“You refer stuff, you earn rewards. No shenanigans (Hat tip: Twilio).”

By Danielle Morrill (Co-Founder & CEO, Referly)

When you launch a company, suddenly everyone is a competitor, or so it feels.

Then you realize everyone you thought was a competitor might also be a partner at best, and a distraction at worst. Next you realize your idea is changing so rapidly, fueled by customer feedback and sleepless nights hacking on new features or just eating your own dogfood, that you aren’t totally sure how you fit with anyone anymore.

TechCrunch wrote that my company Referly is making gains against Bit.ly after their recent redesign stumble. We saw their launch and it lit the proverbial fire under our butts to ship our next set of features in a fraction of the time, which were somewhat similar to Bit.ly’s. It inspired us to move a lot faster. Creating the artificial constraint of Monday morning, and having a clear competitor, helped us focus and get a lot done while calmly ruling out all kinds of delicious feature creep.

Putting It In Perspective

It’s funny, because in some ways we are very similar to Bit.ly and in others quite different — ultimately we are trying to skate to where the puck is going by building the sharing and rewards tools we think people will enjoy using. Just like us, our 99 competitors (or more!) are all trying to create engaging social sharing of products and other links – and this is hard. The battle is not won, and we are focused on becoming as formidably useful as possible.

Unlike a lot of other beautiful social sharing sites out there, we are revealing our business model from day one. You refer stuff, you earn rewards. No shenanigans (Hat tip: Twilio). While in beta we are passing through 100% of commissions to Referly users, but ultimately Referly will need to make money too – and when it comes time to do that we will be straightforward about that, too.

For now, we’re heads down writing code and talking to customers. Stay tuned, and please give Referly a try and let me know what you think in the comments or directly at danielle(at) refer.ly

This was originally posted at Danielle Morrill’s blog.

About the guest blogger: Danielle Morrill is Co-Founder and CEO of Referly, , where we’re building social rewards for referring products you love and generating purchases. Referly is participating in YCombinator Summer 2012. Danielle joined Twilio in March 2009 as Director of Marketing and first employee, with the mandate to acquire customers and build the developer community. She is a board member for Startup Weekend. In her free time, she isworking on becoming a better software developer. Follow her on Twitter at @danielleMORRILL.