You come up with a brilliant idea, you obsess over it, you Google some info, and on your screen lies your idea, being done by someone else, for the last two years. You’re all too familiar with that sinking feeling in your stomach that follows. You abandon the idea almost immediately after all that excitement and ideation.
First (as already mentioned), existing solutions prove your idea — their existence proves that you’re trying to solve a real problem that people might pay to have solved. And it proves that you’re heading in a direction that makes sense to others, too.
Second, and this is the biggie: The moment you see someone else’s solution, you mar and limit your ideas. It suddenly becomes a lot more difficult to think outside the box because before, you were exploring totally new territory. Your mind was pioneering in a frontier that had no paths. But now, you’ve seen someone else’s path. It becomes much harder to see any other potential paths. It becomes much harder to be freely creative.
Next time you come up with that great idea, don’t Google it for a week. Let your mind fester on the idea, allow it to grow like many branches from a trunk. Jot down all of the tangentially related but equally exciting ideas that inevitably follow. Allow your mind to take the idea far into new places. No, you won’t build 90% of them, but give yourself the time to enjoy exploring the idea totally.
When I do this, once I do Google for existing solutions, I usually find that all the other things I came up with in the ensuing week are far better than what’s already out there. I have more innovative ideas for where it could go next; I have a unique value proposition that the other folks haven’t figured out yet. But had I searched for them first, I never would have come up with those better ideas at all.
Finally, I’ll say this: if you see your idea has already been done and you no longer care about it, then it probably wasn’t something you were passionate enough about in the first place; it was just a neat idea to you.
That guy explained to me that quite the opposite, that forced us to "create" the market. A thing that is like exploring a jungle with a machete, whereas marketing an existing product is like driving on a toll road. To my surprise, he explained he preferred to have competitors: you know where the market is at, the typical pricing, there are events for your field, you know the essential features, you can compete on prices and plans, users are talking about the products, know how they can use it.
We, often, met clients who had no idea what our products could achieve for them, how to use them, how to integrate it into your processes. I have learned that there is nothing more dangerous than depending on your clients having imagination for a sale. You need to spoonfeed applications.
There's really a second/third/fourth mover advantage that often isn't talked about, which is that you don't have to explain the entire point of your product before convincing them that your pricing makes sense and it's worth their time. When clear competitors exist, the sale is just why your specific solution is superior (more efficient, smarter features tacked on, cheaper pricing etc.)
That's the underlying reason for the hoary old truism that "the pioneers get all the arrows". In terms of business, you really don't want to be first to market. You want to be second or third, so you can learn from all the first's mistakes, and benefit from the market-building that the pioneers engaged in.
That said, the odds aren't in favor of the ones who are first to market (although patent ownership can change the odds significantly).
I've have been on the exact journey you described - the idea that won't leave me alone (probably 6 years old now), Googled early on to see if anyone else had built it yet; found two existing companies pursuing the same thing, but in two different ways that don't quite match my own.
I've been sitting on the idea for the last two or three years (it still won't leave me alone), and it has now evolved significantly. Fortunately, due to a rare moment of foresight, I've been keeping a journal capturing thoughts around the idea as I've had them, so I've now got a really nice record of the original concept, iterations, evolutions and adjacencies. The best part though, is that I have a record of the excitement that this idea gives me (re-kindled every time I read it), which is a great pick-me-up when the self-doubt takes hold.
I am now entering my last months of employment as I ready myself to jump in and make it real!
> find it really hard to really trust if that's your contact information
Because Google implemented warning in their web browser, and you comply without understanding their reasons?
SSL is most useful for credit cards processing.
SSL makes some sense for e-mails and chat messages, also for authentication.
SSL is useless for static content.
I think Google did that for money, just sold the security story really well. They’re smart people, they can’t possibly be unaware of certificates being useless for majority of the web. Here’s the reasons.
Increases entry barrier, centralizing internet even more. For-profit internet companies have zero issues paying for certificates, it’s part of their business. It raises barrier for ordinary people. Also creates more incentive for placing ads on their web sites to reduce costs. Guess who earns most profits from internet ads?
Also, SSL breaks caching proxies by design. This opens market for technically inferior google AMP. Technically inferior, because proxies are closer to users, 20 years ago most office buildings had a caching proxy like Squid or MS ISA Server.
Also, there’s unintended consequence, users learning to ignore SSL errors and proceed anyway. People processing credit cards usually know what they do, take security seriously and SSL errors there often means what it’s supposed to mean, warns about potential hacks. People implementing SSL just to shut up the google browser don’t need security, they care much less and screw up much more often.
This is just... false. Without SSL, static content can be MITM'd just like anything else. Don't believe me? Connect to the WiFi in any Starbucks and visit http://example.com. That redirect to the Starbucks WiFi login page certainly isn't being served from example.com...
Please stop spreading misinformation about SSL.
Need to cross national borders for that, more than once.
> That redirect to the Starbucks WiFi login page certainly isn't being served from example.com
Also saw these things here in a couple of places. Most places here don’t charge for WiFi and have a single PSK key for all clients, but couple indeed ask for authentication this way.
I’m not sure how SSL helps? As a user, I don’t want to have access to WiFi blocked, I rather prefer redirects. Despite it’s technically MITM, it does the job i.e. allows to access the network.
> stop spreading misinformation about SSL
I have written that unless it’s credit card numbers or other sensitive content like e-mails or facebook messages, there’s very little security value in it, and it costs web sites owners. What exactly do you think is the misinformation in this statement?
Would you be happy if when I visited your website I was asked for my credit card details through a phishing scam? Not secure for me, not a good look for your site.
SSL makes a lot of sense on web sites like facebook and youtube: users enter sensitive data there, servers serve terabytes of available content, not all of which is public, and even for public, the user’s selection is privacy-sensitive.
For a small static web sites, any person in the world can get their hands on all the content, that’s the whole point of public Internet. There’s no privacy-sensitive data in HTTP traffic to these sites, unless there’s google analytics, ads, or some other malware on that site.
Lets encrypt is one obvious thing to mention here, besides removing the cost barrier to entry it really is quite simple to set up.
I haven’t tried but I think it’s only simple is you’re willing to manually renew every 90 days. I’m not willing to.
Automatic renewals are only simple for popular environments like LAMP, my web server runs Windows server with IIS and old school asp.net. I can run arbitrary native code on that server, but I don’t have GUI access to that machine.
But even if it would be super-easy and automated for 100% web servers, that’s still introducing a dependency to a third-party service, for no value for audience of my web site. Just shutting up a web browser that I don’t even use myself is not a good reason, IMO.
That's the opposite of the design goals - Let's Encrypt is designed to be automatable.
They set the expiry to 90 days precisely because they want you to automate the renewal.
Lots of commenters have raised good points and pointed you to instructive resources on the subject, and you've quite selectively ignored the best ones. Please take a moment and withhold the assumption that we've all been brainwashed by Google, and consider that other people might know something you don't.
No it ain't. The cert is at least some assurance that the static content was not altered in transit between the original server and some MITM. Non-HTTPS sites absolutely suck to browse on less-scrupulous public wi-fi hotspots that try to inject their own ads into your browsing sessions (cough cough Greyhound cough cough).
> It raises barrier for ordinary people
Let's Encrypt has existed for multiple years now. There's certainly an effort-related barrier to entry, but not a financial one.
> 20 years ago most office buildings had a caching proxy like Squid or MS ISA Server.
And they can still have that by setting up their own internal CA and installing their own root cert on company-owned machines. Hell, running an internal CA is pretty standard practice for large enterprises (and even some medium ones) specifically so that Intranet applications can use TLS without browsers whining about self-signed certs.
One of the advantages of holding on to this idea for so long is that it's given me time to save a bit of a runway.
Hopefully the fabled Product/Market fit materialises before this runs out :)
There are far more potential customers that haven't heard from either of you yet. So your next order of battle then becomes to try to contact as many of those potential customers ahead of any of your - would be - competitors.
Competition is healthy it keeps you sharp, but don't bother mapping it until you've established your position well enough that you are actually in competition, until that time it is usually a waste of time.
On the other side of all this: if you have heard of a particular company that executes on an idea you have had as well then unless you are willing to eventually go head-to-head with that company you may as well leave it alone. Chances are they are so far ahead on the 'mindshare' metric that a head-to-head battle will be extremely costly leaving you with a much diluted share in your own venture once all is said and done. If you're comfortable with that go ahead but if I were in the position of a founder I'd prefer a start-up where the founders had majority control until at least well past series 'A'.
This assumes that you can do meaningful research without ever Googling the problem space, which is virtually the same as finding competitors. And if you don't research at all while conceiving it, how exactly would you hear about competitors?
> don't bother mapping it until you've established your position well enough that you are actually in competition, until that time it is usually a waste of time.
Trying to open, say, a grocery store without the knowledge of a Walmart down the street sounds like the definition of wasted time.
However additionally I would add that if you think that it is the software alone that will make or break the company, then it is obvious that this is your first time doing this and that you have never brought a product to market. There are a ton of examples where one product that was of less quality absolutely annihilated another excellent product where the difference was the rest of the "business" machinery (marketing, sales, support, operations, etc).
It is an unpopular opinion in HNs, but good software is not enough to win.
This might give the idea that good software is necessary  to win, but history has proven this is not always the case.
But presumably if you combine it with the other stuff then it helps?
This can be generalized: a good product is not sufficient. To succeed in the market requires a lot of things, a good product being only one of them.
So many business owners fail to understand this. We have a better product, better support, we're made in America....
None of that matters. How do you present the product? What image does it portray? How is your name viewed?
The lack of marketing will always cause failure, but history is littered with examples of how marketing alone does not always win.
I can only confirm this works. Sort of.
In 2014-2015 I had an idea for a roguelike beat'em up game. Something like adding roguelike mechanics to Castle Crashers. I did google it, but there were no games like that on the market at the time, so I developed everything from scratch.
While developing I never checked Google again. And when I released the first version into Early Access in late 2016, I noticed that there are now two games in the same sub-genre that came out in the meantime. Apparently those were in development long before mine, but the developers didn't bother to tell anyone about it and they just hit the market (i.e. Steam release) one day.
Now, one of the games had a lot of ideas that I came up by myself. One of those was a magic potion called "Crank" based on the movie of same name. You have to keep moving and kill enemies or your health goes down. Exactly the same idea with the same name for the potion. I removed this feature from my game, because this other game was already out and I didn't want to be called a copycat.
But beside those few similar ideas, the rest of the development went completely separate ways. The other two games were mostly linear, mine has procedurally generated mazes to explore. The other two games allow you to carry and use one weapon, mine allows multiple. The other two games have a fixed boss at the end of each level, mine randomly picks one of 24 bosses, etc, etc.
In the end, I have built a successful product that is different enough to cater to slightly different market segment.
Had those two other games been on the market already when I started, I would have probably given up at the very start.
P.S. Sorry if my English isn't top-notch, I'm not a native speaker.
I recently bought a Sony Voice Recorder just for talking about the wild ideas. Its amazing how much I was self-editing when jotting notes. Training yourself just to blather into a recorder (I don't use my phone because it felt weird) and then using some text to speech to extract the words later has really been a better workflow for me to get the fleeting thoughts out of my poor memory and into something I can continue to churn.
Having passion for your idea is quite understated. Passion is what pulls you through the tough times and helps truly unlock the magic in your solution. It's because you care about solving the problem that gives you the competitive advantage.
In my early days, I only spent about 3-6 months on an idea trying to validate it, hitting a roadblock and feeling deflated. With my current product, the idea has been worked on, thought about, validated and iterated for close to 6 months. Long time in the startup world but it's important for me to truly understand what the market is looking for before diving straight into sales. This turned out to be quite important as potential enterprise customers to make sure our solution resonates.
We're now looking to land demos and hopefully close some early sales and then look to raise seed funding once things have been derisked.
Your point of view is unique, by definition. Your idiocyncratic view, priorities and approach can have niche appeal or be better outright.
So true that your unique view can evaporate and recrystallize into the incumbent's way.
Search was old before google.
No, you don't know what ideas the existing company had (that were simply not implemented yet). Perhaps they had brainstorm sessions too.
Also, what prevents them from copying your ideas?
I don't want to sound like a downer, but there is simply no denying that they are one step ahead of you. They already have a working implementation of your main idea. You can still beat them, but it is like being behind 0-1 before the start of the match.
Of course they did. All I'm saying is that by giving yourself the opportunity to explore your ideas in a green field, having not seen others' implementations, you give yourself the opportunity to extend your idea into new directions that others may not be exploring yet (maybe they didn't think of it, or maybe they aren't attacking that direction, or maybe they want to but they just haven't gotten there yet).
> Also, what prevents them from copying your ideas?
Nothing. But also, nothing really prevents anyone from copying any of your ideas, whether or not similar solutions exist.
> they are one step ahead of you
At their game, yeah. In my experience, if I give it a week, I end up exploring a pretty different game anyway (different niche or audience, different way to solve it, etc.). They'd only be one step ahead of my game if they decided to pivot away from theirs and into my direction.
While it is harder marketing something that has no existing solutions like it, we've found that it's definitely not impossible.
* Ask yourself what would kill the idea, or the category it's in. Sometimes this leads us to come up with entirely new, even better ideas. Often it leads us to come up with a few better pieces to your original idea.
* Ask yourself what the simplest solution would look like for the user in an ideal world, then what the best technical solution would look like under the hood in an ideal world, then how you can marry the two in this world.
* Workshopping the idea with others can lead to totally new developments on the idea as you understand the problem you're solving better, what people think their solution would be, what people think of your solution, etc.
Thanks for sharing, it will help me in a current idea I have.