I came across a question on Quora in which the questioner was in a dilemma whether he should pursue an idea, which had a competition from some well-funded startups.
Here is what I think.
If there is competition that means there is a market worth competing for. The right question should be:
Can I provide a better solution (preferably 10x better) to the customers than the competition?
Don’t compete, differentiate. And that too by a great margin. This will help you focus on your customers and not the competition.
There are multiple examples of startups that took existing ideas, made them 10x better, and made a valuable businesses.
Have you heard of DuckDuckGo?
It is a search engine, which does not track you and respects your privacy. So here is a clear differentiator compared to other search engines.
DuckDuckGo receives millions of hits every day and is solving real problem . They started in 2008 when the market was already dominated by Google.
It may never surpass Google but still adds value by solving the pain point of limited (but large enough) audience, who want to search without compromising privacy.
Another example close to our heart is Petpooja —The most connected Restaurant POS Platform in town!
Petpooja started when Foodpanda, Zomato, Swiggy and many other food-tech startups were established and competing in this market. Petpooja came up with the most connected POS Platform in India with easy menu management (offline and online), enhanced analytics for multi-chain restaurants, recommendation engine for increasing average order value and many other things but differentiator was a unique business model unheard of in this vertical and extraordinary service to the customers.
HobbyCook is another story from a serial entrepreneur after failing multiple times with startup ideas. The company provides home-cooked meal options to the urban working professionals. It gives home chefs a platform to showcase their skills and earn money and on other side it provides healthy food to working professional. Currently, they offer services in Ahmedabad.
HobbyCook started a couple of years back when there were already well-funded competitors in the market like Holachef, Freshfood delivering homemade food in their regions. So they decided to capture the local market of Ahmedabad by building strong community of housewives.
Yet another example is of micro delivery platform that delivers milk at your doorstep? How can such platform compete with Grofers and Big Basket with funding in place and their market reach. This is an example of a niche offering at a very high scale in a highly competitive market.
I think you get an idea. You can work on your idea in a highly competitive space with little or no funding and still make a mark if you differentiate by features, business model, geographical location, or better niche, etc.
If you have an idea, start before you end up having one more competitor!
If you decide to start working on any idea do check out this — “Startups- Don’t take the first wrong step”.