Interesting (and rather valid) point of view on startups, on why it’s possible for startups that later in the game are more successful because they execute better.
Suppose you have an idea for a startup, and then do some research only to discover there are already similar products on the market. You become disheartened and wonder if you should abandon your idea.
In fact, the existence of competing products is a meaningful signal, but not necessarily a negative one.
1) Almost every good idea has already been built. Sometimes new ideas are just ahead of their time. There were probably 50 companies that tried to do viral video sharing before YouTube.
Other times existing companies simply didn’t execute well. Google and Facebook launched long after their competitors, but executed incredibly well and focused on the right things. When Google launched, other search engines like Yahoo, Excite, and Lycos were focused on becoming multipurpose “portals” and had de-prioritized search (Yahoo even outsourced their search technology).
2) The fact that other entrepreneurs thought the idea was good enough to build can be a positive signal. They probably went through some kind of vetting process like talking to target users and doing some market research. By launching later, you can piggyback off the work they’ve already done.
3) That other people tried your idea without success could imply it’s a bad idea or simply that the timing or execution was wrong. Distinguishing between these cases is hard and where you should apply serious thought.
Good read: competition is overrated by @cdixon