Ideas and Validation September 25, 2020

Is it ok to steal and improve an existing idea?

Vladyslav @vladyslav

Let's say we all know about the Calendly app. I want to take the same idea, add some features, change UI/UX, etc. It seems like an easy way to make a profitable SaaS with an already validated idea, but on the other hand, It's just stupid to blindly copy-paste someone's product.

P.S. I'm in an agony of finding an idea for the saas project. For a long time, I tried to come up with a solution first and then tried to adjust it to the existing market (tl;dr; this is bullshit). Then I tried a so-called Sales Safari — failed. Now my ill mind came up with an amazing idea — steal someone's product 😕.
At the end of the day, I'm confident in a thought that you should solve your own problems, but it seems like I don't have one.

  1. 69

    Steal the problem not the solution.

    1. 1

      a quote that I'd "steal".

      good one @AndrewKamphey!

    2. 1

      It's an oxymoron :))))) because you can't steal a problem as it doesn't belong to anybody!

    3. 1

      boom, punchline'd

    4. 1

      Short and clear. Thanks for your answer!

    5. 1

      This comment was deleted a month ago.

  2. 10

    Of course this is ok.

    Google wasn't the first search engine, they took the idea and did it better.

    Apple didn't make the first phone, they took the idea and made it better.

    People are already working on alternatives to Calendly, eg: https://savvycal.com/ so you can too!

  3. 5

    Happens all the time. Find something that an incumbent is doing a mediocre job in and do it way better. Be that through UX, features, focusing on an underserved segment of their market, or a combination of all of these.

    I spent a few years taking an SaaS intranet product (not a new idea by any means) and bootstrapping it to some nice revenue using a mixture of the above.

  4. 5

    Yes, happens all the time. That's how we achieve progress and how the customer gets a better product or options.

    In fact, as I customer, I always tell myself, I pretty much like this, but I wish for different UX, more performance, or something. And sometimes just the price.

    When I think hard enough, I don't use a product or service that cannot be improved upon (for my liking).

    I say go for it. They might have stolen theirs idea from someone anyway :).

    1. 1

      Thanks for support🙏. Maybe I have to stop using a word stealing, but instead competition :D

  5. 2

    It also raises the question of competitive advantage, especially important if you're looking for some capital. You need an "unfair advantage" or "cheat code" to why you can beat the competition because if they can simply spend some money then it's a waste to pursue you know? Better to take their solution, figure out who is using and see if you can make something better and more specific that someone would use OVER the original. Specialize is a good way to tackle it

    1. 1

      Thanks! I will take a look🧐

  6. 2

    One of the co-founders of Drip is doing the same idea: https://microconf.com/microconf-on-air
    Might be worth a listen.
    I don't think your stealing as long as you don't clone it obviously. We frown upon monopolies for a reason.

  7. 2

    Sure, but if you want to steal customers and make a dent in the ecosystem you need to think about how you can make it 10x more useful than anything else for a certain segment of people

  8. 1

    I have a bunch of problems for you. Finding solution would be the key.

    It’s so much easier to find a solution to be non-existent problem.

  9. 1

    It's totally fine to copy an existing idea from a giant software like Calendly who are doing millions in revenue.

    You can simply start with building one feature for a niche audience.

  10. 1

    You can't steal a problem.
    You can't steal an idea.
    You can reuse an idea or create something on an idea you didn't discover.
    But don't steal the implementation because it's realing stealing.

  11. 1

    Analyse the problem that they are solving and think of a better solution for it or maybe see another specific market an target them
    Hope i helped :)

  12. 1

    Honestly, you don't even need to improve it - just position it better and do more marketing! (Lots of us are terrible at those two things, myself definitely included.)

    Sounds overly simple but I've seen this happen so many times. It sucks from the original maker's perspective (I've been there) but it's not the worst strategy 😅

  13. 1

    been developing our tech for 4 months, I can only say, the idea was the easy part

  14. 1

    Three things happen in the world of products:

    1. If you don't do it, someone will do it.
    2. If you don't make it better, someone will.
    3. If you don't do anything, you're out of business (soon).

    You should do the 2nd one. They're already doing it so instead of adding a few features you have in your mind that may not really mean anything or just chaging the UI you should focus on what's missing. You can only acquire new users (a.k.a giving Calendly users a reason to switch) by listening to existing customers in the booking SaaS domain. Try to get on a call with it's existing users, surf around forums to see what users are really complaining about and do exactly that. This way you won't steal the product but solve the problem like Andrew mentioned here.

  15. 1

    There are already pretty good answers in the thread, I want to add another point - any solution doesn't work for everyone, as there are lot of people who may love Calendly app, there are also people who hate it or isn't really solving their problem in the way the user want and there are people in between. So your version can be an appropriate solution for some if you don't blindly copy everything from Calendly. So go for it.

  16. 1

    What you're describing is not "blindly stealing an idea". You're taking an existing problem and trying to create a better solution than already exists.

    I wouldn't call it an easy way either. It's tough to compete with tools that had a good head start and are well-known already.

    I'd say go for it.

  17. 1

    If you're waiting for a completely original idea that actually will be successful you're going to have a hard time. Most ideas are remixes of older ideas. And that's ok.

  18. 1

    Well, we got cars....

    Choices.

  19. 1

    It sounds like you have or believe you have all the skills to build a product/business... so you have options:

    1. Find a partner with expertise you dont have (identifying problems)
    2. Steal the problem (as Andrew commented)
    3. There are sites now that list problems others think should be solved with software
  20. 1

    Sometimes the best Safari is in your own backyard. What are the problems where you currently hangout? Can you provide solutions?

  21. 1

    I don't think it's wrong to compete in the same market as others and have similar features.

    I would focus on what you can do that's different, though. One the best strategies I've seen lately is niching in a growing market.

    I also like what Derek Sivers says about this.

  22. 1

    Do what you're good at.

  23. 1

    I'm glad you don't have any problems, and we are on different pages about solving your own problems.

    I don't call it stealing but it's improving, that's how we evolved, that's how tech evolves, that how it works. Competition is also necessary for better services, better products. So many delusional minds out there thinks they deserve to dominate the market they enter, they are not okay with the piece they take from the cake. Just ignore them. They don't even get the valuable side of the competition.

    For example, does Tesla own the electric cars. Do we all bound to Tesla, can't we have some BMWs? Or any cheaper alternatives?

    But measuring an idea simply by its success may lead you to failure. You need to be confident enough to grab more people into the niche or take over the others'. You need to know how long and expensive it was to become Calendly and ready to embrace these difficulties. Like can you compete with their marketing budget, can you excess the level of their support and so forth.

    If it's okay I'm curious about your failed solution, if you don't mind sharing. I wonder if it's the solution failed or something else.

    1. 1

      Thanks for the detailed answer. I didn't even try to implement a Calendly clone, that was just an example to pitch my thoughts if it's ok to steal an idea. I failed at Sales Safari way which is about listening potential customers in their natural habitat (forums, subreddits, Facebook groups, etc.). I'm sure this strategy does work really great and the problem why I failed is just me.

      1. 1

        You sound so negative, I usually be the negative one. :) I followed Calendly example, it applies to any other.

        I heard the Sales Safari but didn't read it. Thanks for the summary, I'd tried the same and failed as well without knowing the technique. I've seen Substack users complain about lack of customizability. I've built a PoC Service, then asked them again if they wanted as a service or stand-alone. One or two voted for stand alone solution, I built it as well and in the mean time I got bored, bored to deal with those people, bored to not getting any response. Stop working on it, stop promoting. If I persuaded It might gather at least a bunch of people. 🤷‍♂️ or fail afterwards IDK. It certainly failed when I give up.

        1. 1

          Sorry, didn't mean to be negative. Anyway, thanks for replies, they helped me to rethink my relation to the situation:)

  24. 1

    This comment was deleted 4 days ago.

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