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MoviePass might be dead for good this time.
Last month, the cinema subscription service went dark, claiming its app would be temporarily nonfunctional while the company worked on updates and improvements. It has yet to return, and faces deep-pocketed competition from AMC Entertainment's Stubs A-List offering.
Meanwhile, Deadline reported last week that Regal Cinemas is launching its own MoviePass competitor, called Regal Unlimited, before July ends. MoviePass was always going to struggle against AMC. Another leader entering the fray likely will seal MoviePass's demise.
A giant steps in to edge out a once-hot startup. You've read this story before. It's the story of Amazon. Or Facebook. Or any of the countless Goliaths that either bankrupt or acquire smaller competitors with big momentum.
Almost every smart idea eventually draws the attention of giants. I've seen it repeatedly in my own reporting, from Casper drawing the ire of Mattress Firm to Allbirds preparing for its eventual fight with industry giants like Nike and Adidas (which could be on the horizon, as Allbirds investor Ben Lerer told Inc. in December).
The question isn't "How can I avoid that?" Precious few companies do. Uber and Lyft became giants before the car industry could take notice. Rover and Wag are arguably on the same path, escaping competition from giant chains like PetSmart. These companies are rare.
The better question is, "How do I prepare for that confrontation?" The answer is surprisingly simple: Create genuine connections with your customers. Give them a reason to care. MoviePass ran into financial problems and offered a product that was easily replicable. Low prices may earn short-term loyalty. They don't help your long-term survival.
Companies with cult-like followings don't happen accidentally: They're transparent, they communicate well with customers, and they're authentic. They genuinely provide consumers with something that nobody else in their industry could possibly replace. That is, of course, easier said than done. But if you can achieve it, you'll secure a niche that no industry giant can take away.
And if you get lucky enough to go unnoticed by the giants long enough to become one yourself, you get the best of both worlds. A true win-win.