Copy it Better

Project 2012: Day 313

I had to laugh. In the office yesterday one of the grads was asking the grad in my team how her website was coming on. Intrigued, I asked about the website (always interested in start-up ideas). “oh,” she said, “it’s a website where you can design jewellery.”

I pointed out that just such a web business already existed.

Quick as a wink, Kelly turned back to Chat and said: “That’s great, head over there and copy it, but do it better.”

There’s all sorts of lessons in this. From a website (or app) is not a business, to market segmentation, to the value of an idea. But what I want to draw out is that this is a valid approach.

Not only a valid approach, but one that heaps of entrepreneurs from Branson, to Zuckerberg, to Jobs, follow. Not the copying, far from it. But the entry into a busy market, rather than seeking an original idea.

Magazines, music stores, and airlines already abounded when Sir Richard started his versions (and Cola, Mobile Phones, Trains, Gyms). Similarly MySpace was a going concern before Facebook, personal computers before Apple, not to mention MP3 players, smartphones, and retail stores.

But each of these outlier entrepreneurs did something that disrupted the market. Perhaps it was a commercial innovation like Virgin did with pre-paid mobile phones rather than the standard lock-in contracts.

People copying your idea? Not a problem. Either they’ll provide good competition or they won’t find the secret sauce you have in execution.

What is MUCH harder is when you have that unique idea, that’s never been seen before. No competition to validate the market, no reference point for prospective customers to latch on to.

Galileo had it tough Smile

So stop trying to find something brand new, just disrupt a current market. Do it better!

*Note: Don’t worry Pascale, Chat is nowhere near competing with StyleRocks Open-mouthed smile

2 thoughts on “Copy it Better”

  1. So true! The saying “there’s nothing new under the sun” holds true. There are many variations to things, but to come up with something that is truly revolutionary, unique, never-been-done-before kind of business, is very difficult.
    It’s more feasible, not necessarily easy, to “copy” someone’s idea, and make it 10-100% better.
    Even Amazon.com wasn’t a new idea. Book stores have been around since Printing became available. Jeff Bezos just took the concept, applied to the web, and made it better!

    As you said – competition validates the market. Creating a market is difficult and very risky. As a new business has already enough risks, getting into an existing market helps reduce some risks.

    One last quote to illustrate: “Copying from one is plagiarism, Copying from many is research”.

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