You’re part-way through creating a product and someone gets in the market before you, but with a somewhat inferior product. Do you take them on, or do you join them?
Since university I had a project idea which over the years has built up in my head until very recently I’ve had the time and expertise to put it into practice. I begin working on a prototype and buy a domain name. For my project I have 5 stages planned, I don’t want to go into details, but here’s the general outline:
- The basic product.
- Advanced features – tier 1.
- Advanced features – tier 2.
- Social features.
- Marketing Features.
I plan on starting to seek investment as soon as I have the basic product launched, but not to actually get the product profitable until stage 5, which could be at least two years away, depending on what support I get.
The whole time I’ve been preparing to work on my project, I routinely checked to make sure no one was beating me to it. I discovered a lot of sites that remotely danced around my idea, but none that hit it on the head. However, this didn’t stop the occasional anxiety dream.
So as I just started, I begin looking for APIs that’d come in handy, when I discover my worst dreams had come true. A site had beaten me to it, at least, at first glance. As I examined the details, it turned out not to be so bad. So, what do I do about it?
Feature-wise, this rival site probably meets about 75% of what I had in mind for Stage 1, but they’ve already thrown in some marketing features. As for advanced stages, it doesn’t look like they have any plans to expand on the product, although they are asking people for ideas. The most annoying thing in all of this is their interface is pretty much identical to what I had planned.
On the management front, the rival site is built by a company that manages a collection of sites. This means they probably have a well-established team and funding, but on the other hand, it indicates to me that their heart isn’t solely on this project.
This is the dilema: the company is hiring, specifically developers for this rival site, and I’m pretty sure I’d have a strong case for them inviting me into their fold. However, it turns out they’re based in the Czech Republic, and they don’t have a representative in the UK I can chat with.
So, do I carry on for Team GB and compete, do I join forces with my opponent, or give up entirely?
|| Effort = Reward if successful.
Stay in UK.
My product is better.
|Building on their success.
Life in another country – adventure!
Cz = Cheaper living costs.
They already have a product.
|| Effort = complete waste of time if failure.
Have to stay in UK.
Living on tuppence in the mean time
My product isn’t finished.
| Company benefits from my ideas and I only get a portion of the rewards.
Cz = Even cheaper salary.
For now the best I can do is send them an email asking what they have to offer, while keeping my cards close to my chest, and hoping they don’t panic at the sight of a potential rival and pour investment into making it even closer to what I had in mind for my own product.