Image via Wikipedia
The fastest and most direct way to start up success is an acute, deep understanding of your competition. It is also the most powerful evidence that you can present to potential investors.
Consider the case of an entrepreneur who arrives with a complete understanding of competitors' products. This conveys insight into market, opportunity, sales strategy and product superiority. Alternatively, if the entrepreneur doesn't demonstrate that understanding it undermines everything and I mean, everything, within a business plan or proposal. The management loses credibility as does do the financial projections. Without that demonstrated understanding of competitor strengths and weaknesses, assertions sound like wishes instead declarations of knowledgable intent.
I often advise young people that are striving to contribute and advance in an organization that nothing can differentiate oneself as powerfully as being an expert on the competition. It is available to all but sought by few. Being a known "expert" on the competition will bring people from across the organization to one's door step. Which, if you're young and interested in moving up, is an unparalled platform for recognition.
On the other hand, you may be an entrepreneur and interest in raising VC (ie, you're reading this blog), and if you want to blow the doors off at venture capitalist presentation -- leave no one doubting your complete command of the competitive situation. Doing so will build positive conviction about you and your deal. For that matter, nothing will take your further in quest for start up success. It also makes a lot easier to access investment.