You’re on a street corner. You’re bored. There’s nothing to do. Your mind begins to wander. People walk by, going about their business, while you stand there.
And that’s when you have it. An idea.
It makes so much sense. This could actually work! I would love this! Why isn’t it out there already?
You talk to people. Just a few people at first: your friends, your family, your nanny. They’re not sure what you’re talking about, but they’re happy you’re happy.
You talk to more people. Your professional peers, your mentors. They get excited. Why isn’t this out there already? This could actually work! I would love this! (high fives)
Over some months you keep talking about it. You sit on it, you talk about it some more. More people get excited. And eventually you act. You pare down your consulting business to make time for development. You apply for a local accelerator. You get in.
Someone else wants you to develop this idea and is putting valuable resources behind it. So you do it. You buckle down and build. You learn the technology. You find yourself awake at 4am thinking about your idea and figure you might as well code. Come 11pm your eyes feel like golf balls, but you press on.
Weeks pass. You’re making good progress. You’re meeting new mentors and having great conversations. Your product and your roadmap are developing by the day. That ember of excitement is glowing brighter… and that’s when you find it.
An email comes in from one of your mentors. “Seen this?” You link through to the blog post, confident you’ll be able to pick it apart, as you have every other app you’ve been tipped to. You read.
You read on.
Maybe their UI sucks. Maybe they have a different focus. Maybe they use a hamburger button.
You install the app. Their UI is clean. Their UI is sexy. They’re focusing on the same user. They do use a hamburger button, but that doesn’t seem to cheer you up.
Take a breath.
You’ve just met your competition.
Forget all of those other apps people have been sending you. They play on the margins of your idea, but these people just built your idea. This is your competition.
You stare at the wall. You send some profanity-laced emails to your friends. You send some slightly more upbeat emails to your mentors.
At the wall.
Unable to come up with a clever, clear differentiator you settle on the solution that’s been sitting there quietly all along, biding its time. The solution you were too scared to pick up, but have to now. A tack your grandfather-in-law would have been proud of:
Your shit is just going to have to be better than their shit.
You take a cold shower and you get back to work.