12 sites for product inspiration

I love to watch the shows Dragons’ Den and Shark Tank. In each episode, I would find my assumptions challenged, or I would be amazed by the creative way that someone would find a solution to a problem. I’d often whip out my phone and toss a few quick thoughts into Evernote as I was inspired to a different product idea or a different approach to positioning something.
As a product manager or a founder, keeping a sharp mind on how to solve customer problems is critical. If you lose that edge, you often find your product will too. You can stay fresh by exploring what brand new companies are creating, your own self-run Shark Tank tour of creative minds doing creative things. Scanning through a list of new startups featured that day, you may find creative ways to solve problems that inspire you to an out-of-the-box solution. You may also find positioning that is powerful yet simple or even a product that you could use. This list of a dozen sites are your “inspiration destinations.”

As a product manager or a founder, keeping a sharp mind on how to solve customer problems is critical. If you lose that edge, your product will as well.

One of the more significant directories after ProductHunt, Betalist, pushes large amounts of traffic to new startups. Each day they feature a few new startups and add many more to their index. The markets segment is very detailed, where you can find startups that focus on brewing, charter schools, funerals, and governments. Like some of the other directories, they manually review all submissions, so there is no spam.

The biggest of its kind, ProductHunt, features new products from across the internet. Many of these would have previously been in the smaller directories before ramping up to being in ProductHunt. Being featured in ProductHunt is usually an essential step for founders of startups to start getting more traction and awareness. Check out the community interactions around an idea in ProductHunt, as many of those questions people are asking will be similar to the ones in the minds of your buyers.

This has to be my most-active subreddit as it is so varied and so broad (at 380k members). Pinned to the top of the sub each month is a “Share your Startup” post that regularly has hundreds of quick blurbs on new startups or projects. It is a great place to see new ideas, gather insights from the discussions and conversations on the submissions, and also connect with the founders directly.

StartupTracker is unique from the other directories in that you can create lists of startups, and also track specific startups. The company profiles on this site do pull some data from some of the other sites in this list but are not complete enough to be an alternative.

One thing I love about allstartups is the big screenshots right at the beginning. I have often scanned through and found startups with creative UI approaches to complex visual challenges.

The thing I can really appreciate about betabound is how it is more than just an inspiration source on how to build better products; it also lets you sharpen your skills in testing and experiencing as a user. One of the things I worried about the most leading a product team is that they become disconnected from the experience of the user, participating in betas lets you keep that perception.

Rival is market and competitor intelligence for product builders.

7. Getapp

GetApp is a little more formal. As it is part of Gartner, so it is not a free service but does have cleaner filtering and searching for B2B applications. You can see pricing, recommendations, and also the level of integrations between apps you currently have, and existing ones.

SideProjectors is a favorite of mine, and I bought a software off of here many years ago. There are no limits for startups to post, so it is continually updating with new information. You can filter by target market to find parallel products, which are a great help.

Crunchbase is the beast that is always in any list of directories. The most significant feature is the mighty search, allowing you to discover the exact companies that are worth exploring quickly. The big challenge is that the profiles of businesses here are more sales or investment focus, and therefore are an invaluable inspiration. Crunchbase is, however, an excellent resource for market research.

10. Index

If you love Crunchbase, you will love Index. Index provides more information from different site blogs and un-official PR releases. It does have the same challenges but is a slightly different focus. It is also part of “tnw” (thenextweb.com).

With a big shoutout to Seth Godin right on the homepage, Springwise focuses on the innovations in different sectors. Click into a “sector” like “Retail” to see a combination of new startups and creative releases from existing companies.

12. BetaPage

With thousands of startups being reviewed every month and posted, BetaPage has a lot of great listings with almost no spam. You can search by tags, and the postings are full of screenshots, allowing you to get great ideas and understand the product with no marketing spam.

28% of companies do not do competitive research

"Your job is to understand your competitors better than anyone else. Ignoring competitors is the same as ignoring customers."
Hiten Shah
Founder, FYI & KISSmetrics (at Appealie SaaS Conference 2019)

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