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58 Comments

Anyone else feel like everything has already been made?

I’m a frontend dev. The amount of products I see are staggering. Sometimes I have an idea and think it would be cool and then later see an ad of exactly it. Seems like this keeps happening, and it feels demoralizing because it feels like a race because every day a new product comes out. And there is the law of diminishing returns that kicks in, which means that each product becomes more and more abstracted or more of a niche over time. So It feels like As time goes on the more difficult it is to come up with an idea which is useful. I wish I started 10 years ago and it would extremely easy coming up with all kinds of product ideas. What are some helpful perspectives on this?

  1. 21

    I believe that execution is more important than having an awesome idea. For instance, Google wasn't the first search engine.

    My advice is to not focus too much on your competition. If you have an idea that you want to work on, then work on it. Making a product is hard, so being passionate about what you're making is vital for being able to succeed.

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      There is a huge graveyard of startups that focused on the product instead of marketing/sales.
      The key is NOT to have a great product. The key is to leverage great customer acquisition at a low CAC.

      1. 3

        Agree. My point is that if you're passionate about what you're creating you'll spend more time working on it, whether that is development or marketing. At least, this is how it works for me.

      2. 2

        Marketing and sales only work effectively when the product is needed in first place. Otherwise you just get churn, stall, and decline as soon as marketing dollars end.

      3. 2

        Totally agree, just building without market validation is terrible advice. Try to find out unmet market needs and build after you are sure.

        1. 1

          @iqbal125 How much time should one spend on market validation and building MVP? Some rough estimates would be helpful. How exactly should one do market validation is there nay specific procedure for that? How will I know I am on right track?? Thanks in advance

          1. 2

            I would say market validation takes as long as it takes. Sometimes it can be days or months. Just be sure people want and will pay for what you are building.

            Just find people or professionals and ask them what some of their major problems are. Mom Test is a good book about this.

            MVP should take between 3-6 months.

            As long as you are building something people want and will pay for, you will always be on the right track.

            1. 1

              3-6 months is that full time or few hours a day?

              1. 1

                Probably 20-30 hours per week

    2. 2

      I think that execution and idea are equally important – you really need both. I've seen a lot of people execute like crazy on poor or mediocre ideas, it's like trying to swim upstream. You can do it, but it's very frustrating.

      Re: Google, they obviously executed well but their idea of using pagerank for their search algorithm was really what differentiated them over the pack.

    3. 1

      My advice is to not focus too much on your competition. If you have an idea that you want to work on, then work on it. Making a product is hard, so being passionate about what you're making is vital for being able to succeed.

      Thanks, this made me feel all tingly and warm 😁

  2. 12

    The question you're asking is, "Hasn't this product already been made before?" However, it's better to think in terms of problems rather than solutions (products).

    Then the question changes to, "Hasn't this problem already been solved before?" Which is subtly different!

    For example, as a company, hiring is a problem. It's hard, time-consuming, expensive, and easy to get wrong even if you put in a bunch of time, money, and effort. Has this been solved before? Of course not! There are lots of products and services that help with this problem, but hiring is not some permanently solved problem for everyone. People complain about it constantly, and spend lots of money on new tools. Thus, there's room for new entrants to help customers with this problem.

    Most of the successful companies I see are just bringing new/differentiated solutions to old problems.

    1. 1

      That was my reply. I should read more answers before. Exactly. Don't start looking for a solution before finding a problem.

    2. 1

      That makes a lot of sense. And I also really prefer looking at it this way. All this stuff is making me look at the world differently.

  3. 11

    Does it matter if your idea has already been made? @Laura made a great comment about this on Episode 14 (i think, might be before or after this a couple episodes) of the IndieHacker Podcast. She said (paraphrase) "look around you right now? Do you have a laptop? A mouse? A water bottle? A pen? How ofter have you gone into a store or online and seen only a SINGLE manufacturer of water bottles? It doesn't happen. There all large numbers of companies that manufacture and sell essentially the same products. It's only in SASS or web-based products that people think you have to have a unique product. You don't. There is room in the market for multiple makers of very similar products. Get it out of your head that just because someone else made a similar product to your idea that you can't make it. Make and find a way to get it in front of your competitors' users. See if they like yours better."

    Basically: don't give a sh!t about others making the product/service you want to. DOn't give a sh!t if your idea exists. Find a way to differentiate what you offer and find a niche of people that will pay you for it.

    I'm building a Travel app to help people plan trips to Europe. A lot of these exist. Although I have bitten off more than I can chew and am having personal doubts of my abilities, I am confident that there is still room in a very saturated market for travelers for my product. I just need to figure out my niche and get a MVP in front of them.

    If you have an idea, even a bad one, it's worth getting it out to the public quickly so you can see what THEY think - even if it exists in a different form. Not everyone out there is going to like the existing solutions.

    If you find the advice above just doesn't work for you, go out and become more original. Do crazy stuff (not dangerous, just stuff way outside your comfort level / norm). Meet a lot of other people doing a lot of different things than you typically do. This will give you different perspectives and different perspectives will give you different ideas.

    Good luck.

    1. 1

      I'm so glad that resonated with you! Yes totally stand by my point here. Even if there are 10 SaaSs/apps with basically the same functionality - well, customers are going to look through the 10 and choose one. If there's any reason to prefer yours, you have a good shot at some customers!

    2. 1

      That made me laugh and is such a good point. I’m glad I made this topic because it’s such a silly perspective to have ! I’m not sure why it feels like this for software. Or maybe it’s a lack of confidence, because why would someone use my product when this other one is better than I can do since it has a bigger team and resources. But I guess the key is all you have to do is cater to some group of people that would prefer how yours does it. It’s true that people will use something if it fits their needs better.

      1. 3

        Exactly. I would recommend just start building something. Anything that interests you. Don't make the same mistake I am currently and build too long in a silo. Spend a week or two making a very basic version (even a static mock up) of your thing. Then show it to your target audience (ie IndieHackers, a subreddit on Reddit, a specific group on Facebook or twitter, etc) . Tell them it's what your building to help them with their problems and that you are pre-selling for $X for the next 10 days. If no one asks you how to sign up, now you at least know no body wants it. Scrap or table it and find something else. You really do have ideas, everyone does. The key is not shutting them down before you see if others will pay you for them. Even if they are very similarr to other people's ideas.

        And if you haven't already, I highly recommend reading the Indie Hacker Interviews (all of them) and listening to the Indie Hackers podcasts (all of them starting at #1). You'll find great insight into what others build and how they 1. came up with the idea, and 2. how they validated it / got it to their users. While reading/listening 1 of 2 things will happen: 1. you will think "I can build that and do it even better!" or 2. "Wow that gives me a great idea for a project!". Either way, it will get your idea brain thinking.

        Good luck.

        1. 1

          I’ve been listening to the podcast every day the last couple weeks and you’re right there’s a lot of great information. But now I’m at the point where I realize how much I don’t know and that this journey will take a lot longer than I thought at first.

          1. 1

            It will and it won’t.

            With the right type of idea, you can prototype/concierge it in a weekend with the right no code tools (air table + softr for example).

            Then you’re up to marketing and sales.

            It sounds like you need a spark/idea and maybe ease up on the podcast consuming and more on the creating. There are skills you will only learn from doing and practice and domain knowledge vs passively thinking oh yeh I know how to do that.

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              The problem is I don't have time for failure. I don't need a lot of money, but I can't risk working on some project or months and making no money from it. I need to be smart, not be too ambitious, and to create something that solves a problem for people that it would be a no-brainer to pay for it. Because of this criteria, I can't just start creating things willy nilly.

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                You sound pretty stressed about this and also have pretty high expectations of yourself? Be wary of putting ‘stupid’ pressure on yourself, startup life is hard enough but that extra bit of pressure can make it unhealthy.

                By all means, if you feel the need to go forth , create and conquer, then follow your instincts, but be wary of backing yourself into an artificial corner to do so.

                I think there’s something to be said for having lots of swings at bat until the whole process becomes a well worn path. The beauty of bootstrapping and mvp’ing in a smart fashion means you derisk it enough to keep batting.

                You’ll get there.

          2. 1

            100% and I find myself in this situation right now - left my 9-5 thinking I would get a MVP out the door within a feww weeks b/c I could devote all my time to it..nope.

            BUT: listening and re-listening to the podcasts, you get motivated to just DO the thing and keep at it b/c if all these other guests/founders can find a way to push through and persevere, so can I!

            Good luck!

  4. 3

    There are niches, where there are literally hundreds of competing products. New brands are appearing almost daily, some are going out of business or just stuck.

    Example: website monitoring (my niche).
    I'm keeping track of the competitors and currently there are ~200 active products and ~215 dead ones...

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      😮 crazy! I guess persistence, then, is key. You can outperform your competition by simply being patient.

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        Frankly, I don't think to be persistent is enough.
        Depends on how competitive the market is, you need to differentiate and/or narrow your niche to find your USP.

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          Yeah, it makes sense, you don't want to be persistent a banging your head against the wall lol

  5. 2

    I feel you, but you should probably be thinking in terms of "needs".

    If you have an idea and you find that an app that does it, try the app out! Most likely, it will differ from your original idea. Try it out and see if it solves the needs you were trying to solve. Does it solve it the right way? Do you think you could improve the app?

    I think the internet is big enough for multiple, multiple products that are solving the same needs differently.

    But I might be full of shit - we'll see how my todo app does 😄

    1. 2

      Haha. Actually I think there will never be enough To Do apps. I’ve tried tons and none of them are truly satisfying to me. I never use them the way they want me to. Which just gave me an idea: why don’t apps ever allow you to customize how they are used? For example, if I don’t want a sharing, calendar, or some other feature why can’t I just go into settings and turn it off? So the UI is different for each user. These Included features that I don’t use actually give me a weird form of anxiety that I can’t quite explain. It’s like if you had an apartment and half the apartment is someone else’s stuff. No app ever feels like a home.

      1. 1

        I feel like that's the vision of companies like Notion, isn't it? Really curious to see where that goes.

  6. 2

    While it may be easier said than done, I think you should feel vindicated by your ideas already being products. That they are successful products means you had good ideas, so well done in that regard.
    As for coming up with new ideas, I empathize with your general feeling of many things "already being done". If it helps, you can ease the burden of "starting from zero" by thinking about how to improve an already existing product. No need to re-invent the wheel. Try to make a slightly better wheel with your own spin on it. Good luck and keep on keeping on. 🥂

    1. 1

      If it helps, you can ease the burden of "starting from zero" by thinking about how to improve an already existing product. No need to re-invent the wheel. Try to make a slightly better wheel with your own spin on it.

      I think this is key. Solving the same need, but differently or better can be a great path to take. You don't need to have a novel/life-changing idea to be successful.

  7. 2

    I was having the same feeling for years and it was my perfect excuse not to get started. Last year I decided to change that, I had what I thought a great idea at the time until I discovered (after more than 100 hours of research) that there were other similar products, but when I saw those "competitors" it was still not solving my problem and I saw a lot of flaws that could be improved. So I took that as a motivation, to create my own product that would surpass them. Even though it "has already been made", like you say.

    Now that I've been programming and building that idea for months, I released an MVP and it's far away from the features of my competitors, I still have a long way to go, but I've learned through the process and I'm enjoying so much building it.

    I hope you can find your own ideas to stay motivated and stick to it and build it. Don't worry if it has been created already, that doesn't mean you won't find success. And I'm sure there are a lot of narratives out there of products that were born in the middle of a lot of competitors.

    1. 2

      Good for you for pushing past that moment when you find similar things are out there. The best product my partner and I ever built was made entirely based on the belief that we had no competition, it wasn't till we launched that we really found out who was out there. That probably saved us from quitting!

    1. 1

      Thanks I’ll check it out.

  8. 1

    Instead of focusing on idea, the better way to think would be what problems do I face in my daily life. And how can I build it and scale it. Ideas at its core are everywhere. Focus on problems and execution.

    If a product already exists, it doesn't matter. Build it anyway, By working on it you may be able to find a innovative thing that does not exist and build something completely. But losing the motivation to build will lead nowhere.

  9. 1

    You just have to be more granular, more niche-specific. For example, t-shirts are nothing new, right? But t-shirts brand for sugar-daddies doesn't exist....yet. Forgive the example, it's bonkers, but I hope you get the idea.

  10. 1

    That's the exact problem we are solving with https://chromeextensionideas.substack.com/ where we share demand-based chrome extension ideas.

    So you're not focused on the idea, you're focused on the needs of the market. Give it a read.

  11. 1

    Change is the only constant here, things swing from bundled to unbundled, and from one layer to another. Everything is about hooks and interconnections today. You don't build a monolithic "thing" it has to talk to everything else so it's a brick in a wall but wherever it's placed it will stay there for a long time generating revenue once it becomes part of an integrated app stack that helps run a business. There are more ecosystems to build off of than ever before as well. Building simple micro things is hit or miss since they can be replicated quickly so I would aim towards building things with hooks that enhance the output of other things or bring in fresh data from elsewhere etc. Things that schedule, repackage, merge and process different data sets from other apps, etc. there is a ton of room there. If you see something cool look at it and ask yourself if it could be made more open, simpler or more robust, copied to a different market etc.

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      Where can I learn more about this? What are some examples of what you're talking about?

      1. 2

        Two simple places to start - look at all the apps that are linked to Zappier, they list all of them on their website. That covers a lot of the "hooks" group. As for extending the functionality of something using their hooks, look at something like https://www.oneupapp.io this is an app with API access to all the social platforms and they offer a single interface to interact with them and to schedule postings.

        1. 2

          Hey thanks for mentioning OneUp 🤓

  12. 1

    Saying that "everything has been made" is saying "nobody has problems to solve anymore". Is it even possible to be further from the truth?

    What do you struggle with that you cannot find a perfect solution for? Create a B2C product that solves it.

    Are you working in a company? What do they struggle with? Create a B2B product that addresses it.

    Start thinking about customers and their problems. Don't start from thinking about solutions. Solutions come later, after you ask the right questions.

  13. 1

    A great idea lies on the intersection of 2+ ideas: smartphone = phone + photocamera.

    So I would focus on how you can combine something familiar to get something new.

  14. 1

    I’d be more worried if it hadn’t been made - if a product exists and is making money, then there’s a validated market for it already

  15. 1

    90% of new inventions are remixes of old inventions.

  16. 1

    Want to join my startup? We are early stage. I had the same feeling till I found a problem and we decided to attack it head on! Let's connect on twitter https://twitter.com/VeerajMehta3

  17. 1

    I used to feel exactly the same, I had a product idea by Friday and boom, it was featured on PH by Monday. Anyway I have seen many successful founders and some VC tell you should build something you already have competitors, and worry if no one has ever done it before.

  18. 1

    My project Engageful.app is a tool that makes user onboarding easier and increases retention. There are countless tools that tackle this specific problem, and I have a list of over 15 direct competitors.

    To me, it's validating. It means that this is a meaningful product.

  19. 1

    There is also sometimes room for multiple near-identical solutions to exist side-by-side.

    Example: the hundreds of todo-list apps.

    Nothing is 100% original. But nothing is 0% either. There's a broad spectrum of opportunities out there. In fact the sweet spot of business is NOT "never-before tried", but after a couple companies have already tried and failed in that space, working out some of the problems and paving the way.

  20. 1

    It's true that everything has been made, but it's also true that there are an infinite number of ways to make things differently, uniquely, with your own values and perspectives.

    Every song has been written, yet new fresh ones are made every day. Every dish has been created but chefs make new recipes all the time.

    Things are packaged, disassembled and re-packaged. Sometimes it's just a new spin or polish or branding. Sometimes two or three or four completely different things that are combined to make something surprising.

    My advice is to find something you're passionate about and that you have deep expertise (or are willing to invest the time to develop deep expertise). In any given category, the number of truly deep experts is not that many, and the number of deep experts that know how to build, ship and market a product are even fewer.

    If you do become one of these few, I almost guarantee that you will create something special.

  21. 1

    I like to think optimistically here. Think about all the ideas in the grave yard that haven't been created because nobody had the courage to try or grit to see it through.

    Instead of ideas become obsessed with problems and you'll unlock more solutions.

  22. 1

    All ideas are good in hindsight.

    If we go back to 2010 (basically 10 years ago), Instagram, Snapchat, Slack, Zenefits, and Udacity had not been invented yet. All of these are multi-billion dollar companies.

    All of these companies faced massive competition:

    • Instagram faced competition from Flickr (for sharing photos), as well as Facebook (which would IPO a year after Instagram was founded). Most people mocked Facebook for buying them for $1B then, but clearly, it was the right choice. But they could only know how it was a good acquisition.

    • Snapchat was known pretty much only for college kids sending dirty pics to each other, and many doubted its ability to grow beyond that niche. They currently sit at a ~100B market cap. Bad idea in 2011, a good idea in 2021.

    • Slack literally competes against EMAIL, a staple in pretty much every workspace. But they still managed to be a massively successful company ($27B sales to Salesforce). But if you said in 2013 " I'm gonna replace email in the office", you'd be laughed at (most likely).

    While I could go on, I think I make my point clear. Pretty much all massive companies have massive competition, and this continues as you go down in market cap. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't pursue an idea because other people do something similar.

    It may be difficult to think of a novel idea now, but that is always true whether it's the 1900s or 2000s, or 2020s. To make something novel, you need to try and visualize what people in the 2030s onwards will need, then build it now.

    But if you honestly need to find an idea, find a tool that does not serve a subset of its users well. Then build something to serve them. If you make it well enough, they will come over to your tool (for example, Hypefury simply makes Twitter thread scheduling easier than Hootsuite and now does 10k MRR).

    Once you have a subset of users, you can expand vertically (by solving more problems for your set of users) or expand horizontally (solve more people's problems).

    It's easy to get caught up on whether an idea has been beaten to death or if it's novel, but 9/10 it comes down to execution on a novel solution on a worn-out problem.

    1. 1

      Wow. I’m impressed with this community. You basically just wrote a Medium article. It’s gives me a lot to think about.

  23. 1

    When facebook came out, we already had friendster, hi5, myspace, orkut and few other social networks. When google came out, we already had lycos, alta vista, yahoo search and few other search engines. Guess what really mattered ?

  24. 1

    I think I know how you feel. When I quit my job two years ago and started to work full time on my business, I found it extremely unsettling to discover competition. However, I figured that I should rather be unsettled if I do not find any competition. That may indicate that there is no market for an idea.

    As mentioned before, what matters is the execution. Furthermore, small details in a product and how it's marketed, can lead to a totally different target group. Try to learn from your competition. Where are they good at? What are their weaknesses? Are they addressing the same audiences you had in mind?

    Try to look beyond the shiny landingpages ;) Seeing competition from this perspective can be really motivating because there are always things to improve.

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