Product Development March 10, 2020

A product idea I've been working on has successfully launched on Product Hunt today

Tony Maguire @TonyMaguire

Hi all,

I've been really excited to solve a pretty simple problem. I haven't been working on my product for very long, only 2 months, but it's not too far off being shipped.

Today, I saw a product that solves the exact problem with nearly an identical implementation. It's crazy just how close their product is to mine, both UI-wise and functionality-wise.

I do feel a bit like my world has come crashing down. Launching on PH and getting 1k+ votes - it makes me feel like there's no point in even launching my product. I know the normal reaction is to launch something better, but they're solving the problem really well. The only feature I'd have over them is something pretty minor.

Has anyone experienced this? If so, how do you pick yourself up?

So shit... :(

EDIT: Thanks everyone, your comments have definitely picked me up. Really appreciate it all. As much as I know that this validates my idea, it's still a gut punch, but to anyone facing this issue, even if a competitor does well on ProductHunt, that's a teeny tiny percentage of potential users, so don't sweat it too much.

  1. 8

    note to self

    I am building yet another To-do list / TaskManagement app. WHY? I think everything else is very complicated for me, just too many bells and whistles. so I promised myself - I will build something that I like using, for myself, and I will do it with love. And I am betting there are enough people in the world that will use my product.

    The point is this. If there is another product that is doing exactly the same thing as yours and they are doing well - that's usually a good sign. That means lots of people have a problem that your product solves, and there is always space for additional products that people want to try out.

    1. 1

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. 6

    Happened with me very early in the development so I just abandoned and started using that product instead. But I suggest you to look differently at it: how many different vodka brands do you see in a liquor shop? In mine it's like 20+, and every year someone has a brilliant idea of launching yet another one :-)

    Depending on your market size there might be enough room for both of you. Half of the world population is connected to the internet, I am sure you can find customers too. That is, if you believe in your product and are willing to work on it.

    1. 1

      Thanks for your comment :)

  3. 5

    yes. yes, and yes. i feel this, even after many, many years of building software and launching products!

    but, what i've learned is that it doesn't matter what your so-called competition is doing... it matters what YOU are doing. it's not even about out-executing them either... you'll hear a lot of folks say that too.

    you have a unique opinion about the world and what's broken in it. you owe it to yourself to, at the very least, scratch that itch. if you don't build a billion dollar company... that's okay, you'll learn a fuckton about yourself in the process.

    the exercise is a mental one. it's not really about your competitor(s)... this is about you, as a builder and creator. do you follow this instinct and curiosity to it's conclusion or do you give up before you've even really started?

    the choice, as they say, is yours.

    good luck! rooting for you. keep going. it's worth it.

    1. 2

      Thanks so much! I'm going to build my product anyway, at the very least I'll learn something. Thanks for your comment :).

      1. 2

        awesome. you will. this is more important than it being a "success" sometimes! ... maybe even most times!

  4. 4

    Hi,

    I made Trello before Trello did.

    Unfortunately I gave up when I saw Trello (the real one!). It was a bit smarter, a bit faster, and they had a whole team working on it.

    I totally regret giving up. The internet is huge. Who's to say that somebody using my app would ever have found Trello. Maybe I could've out innovated Trello - there are still features I would've added to my app that aren't in Trello. There are so many ways I could've differentiated and appealed to different niches.

    In other words, and as others here have said, it's not a zero-sum game. The permutations and combinations what you can achieve are infinite. Maybe share what you've built here and let the IH collective come up with some ideas?

    1. 1

      Can I try your product? I've used Trello for a few years for my consulting business, but some parts of it really annoy me haha. This type of product is great to work with customers so they can see the work I'm doing, and then fill in their part on their own time.

      1. 1

        Unfortunately its no longer running anywhere. I had a look at the source code and it relies on many external API's which have since been updated so it won't run and it's a lot of work to upgrade.

        1. 1

          Bummer, but thanks for looking. If you ever get the itch to work on it again, remember me ;-)

    2. 1

      Yeah I understand - I should just forget about PH for now and focus on my product I guess. I work in the industry I'm building a product for, but a lot of them are techies/early adopters so I feel like they would be exposed to PH, but in reality this is probably a very small percentage of them. Product is not ready but I will definitely share with PH once I finish it.

  5. 3

    Anyone working on a product that's halfway sane will have this happen to them. It's validation that there's at least some potential to your market. The web is big enough to support two startups solving the same problem.

    Best luck!

    1. 1

      True, thank you!

  6. 2

    this is a very positive thing: it is kind of a validation of your idea. there are other people that saw the problem and produced a solution to it.

    even though it makes it a bit difficult for you now, you can still turn this into an advantage. If they are successful, that validates also that a market for that problem/solution exists.

    then all you need to do, analyze that product, find some weak points, make yours better at those. or, find some niche within the niche even.

    that product has the first movers advantage, but it does not mean they will take the whole market. market is always shared. you can have the second movers advantage. (those are official terms by the way, google if you are interested.)

    1. 1

      You're right, I need to just consider it validation. Thanks for your insightful comment!

  7. 1

    we have some situation but one you create your business model canvas you should add a special value in your idea that's what metter bcs no one still in business alone , even you lunch your product first but the competitor start same product or when see your success also start their product, fb in he's time there is myspace linked , go ahead and be creative with a special vision and good luck

  8. 1

    I've had this happen to me a couple of times, whereas large companies have introduced the product. It definitely is both validating and deflating at the same time. I find it incredibly frustrating as I'm the subject matter expert and product manager, not the builder, so I also have my hands tied sometimes. I'm slowly working on the coding and no-code tools to increase my ability to execute.

  9. 1

    Happened to me so many times, Sucks!!

    When you have a eureka moment, assume there's thousands of other people that have had the same idea. It's the Internet and we're all reasoning over roughly the same heap of information. But only a handful will actually build something and no one will get it right the first time.

    Your new competition is an opportunity. It sounds like they did a lot of things right. They probably did a lot of things wrong too. You're in a great position to take advantage of that.

    Peter Thiel (I think?) wrote about First Mover Advantage being a strategic fallacy. That is, being first in your market might be a tactical advantage. But long term, strategic success requires ongoing innovation.

    HTH =)

    1. 1

      Thanks for the comment, you IH people rock!

  10. 1

    I had the exact same situation happen to me today, but it was here on IndieHacker rather than on ProductHunt. So I definitely get how hard it is to have this happen. Especially when you've spent months working hard on a project that you're excited about.

    Like some others have said, you really just need to view this as market validation, and remember that there are very few successful products that exist in the world that DON'T have a close competitor.

    Keep your head up, keep grinding, and use this as motivation to put out something better!

    1. 1

      That's true - best of luck with your product and thanks for your comment :)

  11. 1

    It happened a lot to me. They are super successful now. I wish I had gotten out of my comfort zone and make them happen.

  12. 1

    Here's the thing - and first a bit of disclaimer as I have a product that is probably being done somewhere else by someone else and have no real experience to draw from - but:
    IGNORE COMPETITION
    It will always be there. So you made an Uber clone. It's not better than Uber. Potential customers half chose Uber and half chose your product. Your once unicorn is now worth only 50% of its unicorn valuation. Bummer dude.

  13. 1

    You know what's crazy about this? If I can guess the product correctly, the one that just got ~2000 upvotes on PH, I can tell you definitely that a friend of mine proposed this exact product 9 years ago. The difference? He didn't do anything about it.

    Whether or not you are going to pursue this product, I think the important lesson here is this - there's always an audience for what you are making, but you have to find it, get it onto your product, and then not die long enough for the rest of the world to catch up.

  14. 1

    Happens all the time. This has happened to us many times and we're still alive!

    My only advice is have self-awareness if this is a problem worth solving/pushing forward OR if you should continue on. The idea itself is only half the battle, but execution is the other half of the battle! Best of luck.

  15. 1

    Will you add oAuth login, I'm always too lazy to register when I have to type all my email, password and so risk others too ;)

  16. 1

    I'm going to agree with some of the other commenters here — don't give up! If anything, you can see their success as validation for your idea.

    This situation has happened to me a few times before, and in every case, the existence of a competitor didn't significantly lessen interest in my product.

    If anything, it primed customers: they were already familiar with the idea and the value add, so they were maybe more receptive to my product than they otherwise would have been.

    Keep going!

  17. 1

    Tony, I am experiencing the same with a recruitment app I am building that somebody else has already done it.

    The way I think is that startups don't die because of competition. There are many factors that come into play besides the product itself.

    Think about how can you be better at marketing the product, customer support, customer success?

    1. 2

      Thank you! :)

  18. 1

    The market is big enough for everyone!

    The fact that you already have paying customers is a good sign.

    While a "successful" PH launch can be a great idea validation and start, it is not a growth strategy. You still need a long term business strategy.

    Focus on your customers, focus on providing value, focus on the long game.

    Hope this helps and motivates you a little bit!

    1. 1

      Thank you!

  19. 0

    I've just looked at PH (don't really look every day, just time to time) and saw a product called Mark Up posted yesterday, 1000+ votes. Very similar to my product, UIReview.net. Thing is, it's a bit swankier than UIReview as I'm still developing it.

    I know the feel, but I'm still going to be working on it. These comments have helped me a fair bit too :)

    1. 1

      I know someone that built this product 4 years ago, launched, and then gave up before it got any traction. I thought the product was great, and was really bummed out for her.