The first thing many entrepreneurs do when considering a new idea or startup is comb the market to see if it has already been done. The most common result is the realisation that someone thought of it, and even built it, way before we did. Beside the fact that this is a validation of awesomeness, it also leads us to make the rookie error of looking for a new idea. Instead we might consider these two questions.
- If it’s been done and we didn’t know about it, has it really been done?
- If they did it and it didn’t work, is it because the idea is crap, or did they do a crap version of it?
The only real way to answer these questions is to ignore the fact that it has already been done, and do our version of it anyway. While it is true there is only room for one stunt or advertisement using a particular idea, creating a business on a certain idea has greater complexities and nuance, all of which the idea itself represents a very small part.
If you’ve still got doubts, here’s a little known fact worth remembering: There were over 300 video sharing channels when Youtube launched. What Youtube did was create a simple user experience and had the killer app of easy embed across the blogosphere and most other social web services.
Startup blog says: Build your version anyway.
I recently saw a job posted on a web developer recruiting website. It involved some people looking for coders to make a copy of my web business and livelihood www.rentoid.com. What was interesting was the lack decorum shown in the coder recruiting process where the person said – build me a replica of this website. Here’s a screen print of it below.
I was a bit annoyed at first. and sent out a tweet to assess the mood of my army of advisers on twitter. I tweeted the following:
The responses were varied, but all were within the theme of this person clearly does not get what it takes. Here’s some verbatim of the tweet responses:
I pretty much knew this before I tweeted the issue, but it did force me to think about web marketing success, and the success of rentoid to date and I came to the following conclusion. It’s not about the tech. In fact, the tech is pretty low down on the list of things needed for any website to succeed. And if i had to give my nemesis some advice on how to succeed in copying me it would be to do these two things:
Populate and Promote.
This is what needs to be done with any classified style website to succeed, and it takes a lot of time and investment. Investment in financial and human capital. The problem with being 2nd, 3rd or later is that all the easy promotional opportunities like this are taken by the market innovator. And populating your website to make it meaningful takes a lot of boot leather, which is something many web entrepreneurs are afraid of.