Product Development October 15, 2020

The very best way to ensure success is to find a derivative of something that is working.

Rosie Sherry @rosiesherry

The very best way to ensure success is to find a derivative of something that is working. I'm basically doing what Wirecutter does, but for HR software. You can make a product like a CRM, but specifically built for sporting goods distributors, or a sock that is built for crossfit athletes.

From @philstrazz's IH interview

For me, this is why I love reading about how people are building businesses. It's not necessarily about seeking out advice, it's more about looking for inspiration and looking for ideas that I can potentially take back to my business.

I've been indie hacking a while, going back 15 years or so now. Back in the my older days, I use to follow the stories shared by Mixergy and Pat Flynn. These days it's Indie Hackers (obviously!) and Twitter.

I definitely feel it helped me build up Ministry of Testing as I was constantly seeking inspiration from modern ways of building a business, whereas every other competitor was stuck in the past. I honestly feel this helped me stand out, I guess this became my 'moat'.

I often felt like I wasn't really doing anything special, but in reality I was innovating for the software testing industry. There wasn't any need to compare my niche to what others were doing.

Learn how others are doing things, but don't treat it as advice, use the knowledge you acquire to determine the possibilities of what you could or could not do.

  1. 9

    100%. I've just had an idea. @rosiesherry I wonder if you and the team could do a featured post on like, indie hacker alternatives to established products. Many ideas people are working on are new and revolutionary, but it's also 100% OK to work on a better alternative to something that already exists.

    We could put together a mapping of established products/tools => indie hacks, some that come to mind:

    Google Analytics => Plausible cc @markosaric
    Intercom (customer messaging) => Letterbase cc @richardchu
    Twitter => decent.social cc @cridev
    Job board => heygamer.co cc @emredemirel
    Mailgun/Sendgrid => Kingmailer cc @Navinp
    Hubspot => Friendly cc @StefanVetter
    TypeForm => BlockSurvey cc @wilsonbright
    Remote.co => Remote Leaf cc @abinaya
    Trello => Portabella cc me

    1. 2

      Thanks for the mention bro

    2. 2

      Thanks for mentioning! Sounds like a cool idea!

      1. 2

        Nice idea, discussing internally about if/how it could be done.

        Let me know if you have any additional thoughts around it. 🤔

  2. 1

    I totally agree. I always find a ton of inspiration observing the top players and thought leaders.

  3. 1

    Two question for you about this... First, I agree with the post in general if someone is selling hotdogs and making a bunch of $, then go ahead and set up a hotdog stand. But, where this line of thinking starts to waver is when there are a lot of hotdog stands, and the offer becomes a commodity.

    So, two questions here... Do you think that this approach might tend towards not the best way to ensure success when the competition is incredibly high? Do you think this approach stifles innovation?

    1. 3

      If people are selling hotdogs well, I wouldn't go and sell hotdogs too. I already had a niche that I wanted to serve, I'm not interested in making money from another niche, I'm interested in ideas that will serve my niche that aren't being served.

      I might look to see how people are selling the hotdogs and see if there are any innovations that I could bring over to my business. I might look at their marketing. Their processes. Or, being me, the community that surrounds hot dog lovers. 😇

      I don't see how it stifles innovation, in fact borrowing ideas from other industries will encourage innovation in underserved niches.

      1. 1

        Right, so taking a product and reshaping it for another vertical or industry. That's fair, I may have misread the original intent of the post. I "read" derivative as let's follow model X but in a slightly different way to give us an edge over the competition.

        So, my original metaphor would be better in a context like selling hotdogs in a place where no one knows about hotdogs. ;) Which, in that sense I fully agree with and that is definitely more in line with being innovative.

    2. 1

      A good way to put it is,

      Someone can get ahead faster by looking at what has already working. After got it started to work, things will looks different for everyone to get to success.

      I think the hotdog stand example is another situation (clearly the wrong idea, so redefine the idea first)

      1. 1

        Always great to look at other best practices.

        I tried this once with something we were doing and it turned out that what I thought would be a great / similar model for marketing a product turned out to be very wrong / difficult / not the right fit.

        A lot of reasons, but mainly boiled down to the product we were modelling was wasn't fundamentally different from its main competitor, but offered some very innovative features. In this regard, it was a replacement tool that was cheaper and more effective for a specific segment of users.

        In our approach, what I failed to realize was that our product wasn't simply a replacement for something, but offered a fundamentally different paradigm for working between two or even three disciplines. So, the marketing approach needed to change to reflect that.

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