Innovation, Startup Advice

People copying your idea? It’s a good thing, says Appster’s creative director

Emma Koehn /

Startup founders are always on the hunt for that next billion-dollar project, but one entrepreneur says too many are obsessed with coming up with an idea that nobody else has.

In a post on Medium, creative director at software developer Appster, Ben Jarris, says more company founders need to accept that if you have a good idea, you’re going to have competitors.

“If Mark Zuckerberg had decided that MySpace had a stranglehold on social networking, we wouldn’t have Facebook,” he writes.

“And if the guys at Google had given up because Yahoo had the search engine thing covered, the tech world would be a VERY different place.”

No matter what you’re selling, however, Jarris says there are some approaches you can take to ensure your product is the dominant player in a competitive marketplace. After all, if you’re facing competition, it means “people want and need what you’re building”.

Keep it simple

“Lean and simple” designs tend to beat out those with bells and whistles nobody needs, Jarris says. So think about ease of use when developing your product.

“At least 60% of our clients at Appster try to add a laundry list of new features,” says Jarris, but this slows down the process of rollout without always benefiting customers.

While some products like cars equate more features with better functionality, when it comes to technology users want a straightforward product and solution, says Jarris.

Don’t listen to everything your friends or family say

When you’re faced with competition and wanting to get the details right, it can be tempting to get bogged down in what those around you are saying about the design of your product, rather than thinking about the user.

“It’s a drag that your dog sitter isn’t feeling the colour blue, but unless you’ve built an app that connects pet parents with qualified caregivers, it doesn’t matter what he or she thinks,” says Jarris.

Instead, trust your development team, your market research and user testing to decide which features work and which don’t, he suggests.

Watch the industry, not competitors

Learning from your competition and the trends in the industry isn’t the same as becoming obsessed with them, Jarris says.

He believes too many business operators are focused on beating out the competition directly, rather than spending time watching the way consumer behaviour is changing — and this can mean they miss big trends.

“Blockbuster [Video] could have been Netflix,” Jarris suggests.

“But if failed to innovate. It continued to compete on price and stock, and missed a massive shift that occurred right in front of its eyes.”

Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, TwitterLinkedIn and iTunes

Advertisement
Emma Koehn

Emma Koehn is SmartCompany's senior journalist.

We Recommend

FROM AROUND THE WEB

  • stuart21

    “If Mark Zuckerberg had decided that MySpace had a stranglehold on social networking, we wouldn’t have Facebook”

    Wasn’t much good for MySpace.