Posted On: Saturday, 29 May 2010 by Rajiv Popat

We are seated at a local startup club where startups demonstrate their products to a bunch of fellow developers, designers, entrepreneurs or technologists. An young man is talking about his idea of building a community site with a difference. He wants to build a community site for runners and walkers around the world.

He doesn’t have a thing to show us.

No wireframes. No screens. No working systems. Absolutely nothing.

He seems to be blabbering non-stop about how his idea is different and how no website in the world has thought about it before him. It almost seems like he has just hit upon a totally different and new way to fly the skies.

During a quick bathroom break we start talking to this gentleman and I mildly and politely hint to him that maybe, just maybe, everything that he is trying to build on his community website can be easily done with a Facebook community site.

He seems grossly offended.

Somewhere, unknowingly I seemed to have shattered his dream and told him what he really does not want to hear.

Its not his fault though. Most ideas are a dime a dozen. To make things worst, when its your idea you tend to think that its the best thing since slice bread. You tend to protect your ideas like babies when your all your ideas need is dedication and concrete work, not protection.

Go on. Take the litmus test. Think of an idea. Then try to find websites that do exactly what you just though about. Chances are that you will stumble upon at-least a dozen sites that do exactly what you were just thinking about.

There is also a high possibility that when you stumble upon these websites, you will disregard them as useless and you will start sentences which begin with – "yes but this website is slightly different than what I was thinking about. It does not do 'Z' which is what is going to differentiate us from them.


Your idea is already taken. Someone beat you to it and you have no unique selling points. You are just making this differentiation crap up because your brain has just switched to a denial mode where it is clearly refusing to accept that someone beat you to that idea, executed the entire idea flawlessly and is making money from the idea.

You, were late.

Deal with it.

Your product idea just does not have a unique selling point.

All that yes-but-we-are-different talk that you are mumbling is just bullshit to feed your own ego and pamper it.

You have about a dozen competitors out there and the only thing that is going to set you apart is how you add a little bit of yourself to the product and how you handle execution.

Now, take a pause. Reflect. Ask yourself if you can genuinely pull off an execution that is superior than any of the other products out there. Be careful, because even here, your brain is going to trick you into saying, 'Sure! Of course I can!' without giving it any real thought in the first place.

Take your own sweet time. Reflect. If the answer is no and if the idea is not keeping you awake at night, it's okay let go shamelessly. After all, you do not find truly remarkable ideas. Truly remarkable ideas find you. It just makes the defeat that much more easier to accept and it frees your mind to find something else that really matters to you.

Go ahead, start something that makes a small dent in the universe or just give up and wait for a new idea but don't build a mediocre crappy product because we have enough of them already.

I wish you good luck.

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