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185 Comments

Every idea is taken. It's not possible to build a startup anymore.

I'm getting tired of those who say there are still countless problems to solve in this world. I do a quick Google search for whatever idea I come up with and guess what? The niche is already cluttered with a bunch of competitors in the field. How does one start a startup these days? Yes, I know, you can differentiate. Yes, I know, it's the execution that matters but let's be real. It's so discouraging to place your hopes on a market that is already filled with others who have made progress when you are just starting. What do you think? How do you guys approach this dilemma?

  1. 1

    I would approach your dilemma in a way that although the marketplace is filled with people who are already doing the thing that we are thinking to do. But guess what?
    There are people who still want to use and experience new products and services and are looking for new perspectives to solve the same problem.
    So, if you have got an idea, act upon it. You never know when you can fly high in the sky.

  2. 1

    There are very few original ideas. That's the good news. Just find a good angle (or gap) in the market and go after it. Having competition means the space is validated.

    Here's how you can use reviews to find opportunities in your market

  3. 1

    Ok, (in the nicest way possible) are you kidding me? Your experience could mean one of many things. Three off the top of my head (I am sure there are more possibilities besides your conclusion being correct):
    (1) lack of imagination
    (2) lack of experience
    (3) looking at problems at the wrong resolution
    Do you not experience challenges in your day to day life? Do you not get annoyed by software not working properly or being prohibitive because the learning curve is steep? Are you completely satisfied with existing institutions / companies? If no, then there are plenty of opportunities to start a company.

    In any case, within a 'problem space' you personally care about and/or have some experience in, keep learning, build, and repeat. That is probably the best cure for your complaint.

    Here is something I've been thinking about. Social media has chopped up and siloed pieces of our collective reality. In my view and contrarily, social media should form a digital layer over the real world and, consequently, augment it. Interacting with the real world (like going to the store, a bar, a show) should be built into participating on a social media platform. Furthermore, it should help strengthen local communities not allow members therein to ignore each other. We need a crossbreed of hyperlocal social media such as Nextdoor and the more traditional social media to create a digital augmentation of reality.

    Ok, maybe my solution is not something you'd agree with but it is something that doesn't exist and even if people are executing on it they are probably all going to fail because they aren't noticing something I am (or so you have to think)... therefore I am confident pursuing this idea. Btw I am not pursuing this idea in actuality. It's just an example. Even if you don't agree with the solution you can see that there is a problem everyone basically agrees exists and for which there is no obvious solution.

  4. 1

    Idea is good, but how to execute it is better

  5. 1

    You have to think in a new context. Seeing the world, as it is, in terms of how everyone else sees it, there aren't many ideas out there - the problems have been solve in the obvious, accessible ways.

    One trick for coming up with new ideas is to use metaphors from one space in another. What does .... chat/calendar view/"RSVP" concept/"ratings"/ Dominos pizza tracker etc.... look like in a space that doesn't have those things? Go look at your favorite produces, dissect the metaphors, and start using those to think in other spaces.

  6. 1

    Google was not the first one. Tesla was not the first one. Apple was not the first one.

    You are right is all about execution and customer-focused approach to build the revolutionary by combining the existing tech.

    And it's actually good that every idea is already taken as it gives the ability to pre-validate the market need and to save you some time on building new UX, new copy, new everything, because some has already done it for you. just find a blue ocean within it and go hard, every hypothesis is cheap to test.

  7. 1

    The act of trying to build something – unique or with thousands of similar versions – contains many frustrations. Each frustration is an opportunity to build something that makes that thing less frustrating for you and others. That's how you decide what to work on. It doesn't matter on which road you start, the end destination will be different to what you originally think. The only thing that is important is to actually start moving, and then to pay attention every bump on the road.

  8. 1

    You don't have to be first to solve the problem, in most cases it's better not to be.

    You can be better!

    Just because there are people already doing it, doesn't mean they are doing everything right or even well.

    Was I the first to offer Pay Monthly Websites? No. Did I launch it anyway? Yes.

    Why? Because I could see most of them were shit.

    Different people look at solving problems differently. This is why you shouldn't try and copy anyone. Technology also offers new ways to solve existing problems.

    Think outside the box.

  9. 64

    Hi Zach, sorry to hear your frustration and I totally understand.

    Not sure if it will help but one thing that helps me: start with the tiniest audience possible, tinier than any other competitor in that market. This is something I had heard in one of Seth Godin's podcasts where the host asked him to come up with a business idea if he were to launch a product with $1,000 and 90 days to spare.

    Godin's answer? A concierge service that helps Californian families with young kids to find the best place to stay in Paris for their holidays.

    Once you trim your audience to the bone, the problems they face and the solutions you can offer all of a sudden become much more specific. This niche approach gives your foundation an edge over competitors who run around like headless chickens trying to please everyone.

    1. 1

      I think most times there is already someome with something very similar to your product.

      For me it´s:

      Niche down
      Different Angles (I always see solutions - also with what i´m currently working on), but they attach a different target group, with a different message, with a different approach on their delivery, slightly different software)

      And if you take the approach of - customer benefits first, it´s kinda unnecessary how you solve the problem (and if there is a similar delivery vehicle - the same software) but that you solve their problem.

    2. 9

      Came to say this ^.

      Typically when feeling overwhelmed or competed away I find the answer is to reduce your scope.

      start with the tiniest audience possible.

      Try to solve one problem, learn, and repeat. Remember, indie hacker is a long game so think in 1, 3, 5, 10 year time frames.

    3. 2

      I think this is a really interesting take on the problem, and something I will try to remember on my next brainstorming sesh :)

    4. 1

      It’s funny because the reality is that if Seth tried to start that business it would a massive failure but it still gets quoted a lot. I guess people like the message and hope it’s true with no easy way to disprove it.

      Ofc the idea of focusing / being niche has worked well for many businesses. Facebook started at Harvard and then just unis. amazon just sold books. Then everything. Walmart sold jn very specific areas of America gradually taking over the entire country over a long period of time and so on…

  10. 50

    You realise what you're saying is that there are no unsolved problems in the world?

    Now think about how ridiculous that statement is.

    1. 2

      This, + every time a problem is solved, the solution introduces new problems. Think about how many business were built off of Shopify alone

  11. 1

    well your are right obviously also like you me too get frustrated of this problem but I had changed my perception about it like .. there are people who are still making unique startups or doing other idea differently and getting success .. also you can change your perception about market like .. there are already people I can learn from and after that you can mix some there things which will be your own unique way

  12. 2

    I agree that every startup idea is taken. But, not every audience is taken. You can target an audience that your competitors are not focusing on. Niche down and then you can expand your audience. Google was not the first search engine, Facebook was not the first social media app, Amazon was not the first one to start an online bookstore.

    Just make sure that your product or service should be better than your competitor is some way or other.

  13. 1

    The problem is that often things don't show up when you are looking for them but as a side-effect of some other process you are going through. For example, I recently tweeted this:

    Because I was under the impression that all the pains that the process of building a landing page brings are an opportunity for someone to build something to solve those frustrations.

    Sometimes the pain is the only way to inspiration.

  14. 1

    I completely understand where you're coming from. It can be very discouraging to try to enter a market that's already crowded with competitors. I think the best approach is to try to find a niche within that market that isn't as crowded. For example, if you're interested in starting a business in the fashion industry, you could focus on a specific type of clothing or target a specific demographic that isn't as well-represented by the existing businesses. Another option is to try to come up with a unique selling proposition that will make your business stand out from the rest.

    If you're looking for more advice on starting a business, I recommend checking out our website blog, subtitlebee.com. We have a lot of resources that can help you get started.

  15. 2

    The thing you are describing is market validation. It's not a dilemma. The next step you should be taking is deep-diving into the existing products in a given space so you can see what the gaps are. Then you start to build around that feature.

    A good UX or product design course will teach you how to approach this.

    I think if you want to build a successful startup you are going to need more grit than this.

  16. 3

    Your idea doesn't have to be unique.

    If your particular customer has a problem and he values your solution to that problem more than he values the money in his bank account, he'll trade it with you. He gets the solution and you get the money. Both are happier after the exchange (non-zero-sum game).

    Your current approach is sub-optimal. "Have an idea, search on Google, see competitors, get discouraged."

    Others have made the point that competition isn't a bad thing (how many restaurants are there in your city?) and a lack of competition is worrisome (is this even a REAL problem?)

    But I there's a different thing I'd like to point out... the order.

    Right now, ideas come from you.

    If you had formal marketing training, they'd teach you that ideas should come from the market.

    You can decrease risk by using qualitative research.

    Instead of coming up with 'trademark Golden Idea', you should determine who you'd like to serve first and make it specific.

    Then you should research them to find out where they hang out online so you can study them.

    What you're looking for is:

    • Where are they now? (A)
    • What is their desired outcome? (B)
    • What products/services are they buying currently to go from A to B? (Proof of buying behavior)
    • What sucks about those products/services?
    • What would they love instead?
    • What language are they using? (this becomes your copy on your landing page, offer, emails, content, etc.)
    • What price are they paying for the current solutions?
    • How valuable is a better solution?

    This is not mathematics. No one expects you to come up with a rigorous proof. Marketing is messy in the sense that different people will come up with different answers here. However, the overall trends should be similar. (These are painful problems, these are current solutions, this is the desired outcome, this is the language they use, this is how much they're paying, and so on.)

    Now, with all that information, you can create an MVP that you believe solves their painful problem better than the current solutions.

    Note that the fact they have a painful problem proves there's an opportunity for a better solution. It can even be as simple as "there's no pizza place near me" which shows your solution doesn't have to be genius-level IQ or unique.

    Where do you pitch it?

    Unfortunately, many IH posters say "I built this, now where do I find customers?" That's ass-backward. In your case, you already know where your customers hang out because you used that to identify the problem in the first place!

    So you simply go back, show your MVP (which is just a rough draft), and then the response you get will allow you to iterate.

    This approach is the opposite of "build a beautiful key, now go into the world and find the unique lock it opens".

    What we've now done is "Pick a door with a simple lock and then make a janky key for that lock. Iterate a few times until the door opens and perfect the key."

    You can build the best oil rig in the history of mankind and you can pimp it with all the latest and greatest features, but if it's in a place where there's no oil... fuck all is gonna happen. No matter how great your oil rig is, its existence will not attract oil. So you have to start with the oil first.

    I also recommend you check out this post to understand the difference between wants and needs.

  17. 1

    Don't give up so easy! Competition means that the problem is validated. Also, it helps you identify pain points that aren't covered yet.

    So when you find your idea and see others who already have done it, think about ways you can give a better alternative to the audience. Remember, competition already validated the problem you're trying to solve.

    Good luck!

  18. 18

    When you find your idea is taken:

    1. Can you build it significantly better or simpler?
    2. Can you apply the solution to a smaller audience?
    3. Can you apply the solution to a bigger audience?
    4. Can you apply the solution to a different audience?
    1. 4

      Other important questions are:

      • Can you build something to simplify or learn its usage?
      • Can you build an add-on to add to its functionality?
      • Can you combine or integrate it with other relevant systems of its ecosystem?
    2. 2

      This is the advice I came into this thread to write, but written more eloquently and succinctly than I would have. And the way you phrased it as questions rather than dictated as advice! 👩‍🍳 Chef’s kiss.

      Yes, ask these questions. I’m doing that right now and just had my first ever stranger buy from me on the internet TODAY. Asking these questions incessantly is what makes a startup, and the search for the means to answer yes to at least one of them.

      1. 1

        Gracias. And congrats on your first customer!

  19. 12

    Every love song has also been written, mastered and produced.

  20. 8

    Constant Contact (the email marketing platform) started in 1995. Mailchimp in 2001. We, EmailOctopus, launched 14 years later in ~2015 and do over $2m in ARR.

    Take an established product in a massive market and make it cheaper, easier, more privacy focussed or offer a better service. There's room for everyone!

    1. 2

      Privacy focused seems like a great differentiator these days!

      Plausible.io came along and offered a decent (though necessarily somewhat less informative) cookieless analytics platform that seems to be doing well.

      So many services that have website integrations set cookies that require you to ask for user consent under various privacy laws (GDPR, etc.). Everyone visiting your site hates these banners! There are probably quite a few of them that could be competed against simply by building an alternative that does not rely on cookies and therefore does not require adding a cookie consent banner.

  21. 8

    “Gather round, children. It is time to tell you a story of old legend. Forgotten by time and only remembered by few. So muddled from rumour that only few remember it correctly. And that story is... THE STARTUP”

    (thunder rumbles in the distance. All the children gasp, afraid)

    “It was the summer of 2022...”

    Drag Racing

  22. 7

    There are more than enough problems that need to be solved. That's right.
    If you are looking for a specific problem, you will not find it.

    Often there are tools or technologies that create new problems.

    One thing I learned:
    Listen to people, analyze their work.

    What is bothering her?
    What do they hate about current tools?
    What is holding them back from productive work?
    Why they are using specific tools and not alternatives?

    There are often all-in-one tools that basically make everything more complicated.
    Simplify individual components and you have a market.

    The same we did with era.sh (our markdown note-taking tool for developers). We saw there are many tools on the market, but almost none is made for developers and their needs. Some are, but they are overcomplicated and not intuitive.

    So we fill these gaps: keep it simple, intuitive and for developers.

    1. 1

      Love the landing page, congrats. My question: isn't it already cluttered? Even when I search for "note taking tools for developers", Google overwhelms me with answers. Are you saying you combine differentiation with niching down? Don't get me wrong, just trying to understand your approach a little better.

      1. 2

        Thanks!

        Sure, you will find many different tools.
        But all of them have their disadvantage.

        We talked to many developers in the beginning, and we covered users of almost all tools. No-one was really satisfied.

        You just have to learn from the others mistakes and make it better.
        Combine all improvements and you have a better tool.

        We are still in beta, some fundamental features are missing, and developers already move to our tool.

        1. 1

          How and where did you talk to developers?

          1. 1

            LinkedIn and Twitter. We reached out to them and asked for a short meeting/interview. Almost everything was pleased to help us.

  23. 6

    Hey Zach,
    To build a successful business, you don't need a unique idea. That's the misconception.
    Secondly, having competitors is a good sign of a flourishing market.

  24. 5

    Instead of trying to build a unicorn - why don't you just take an existing product of an existing niche and go from there? It has already been validted.
    Actually I just did a short video about this also:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1i1NWMzw_A

  25. 5

    this is what I would do in a cluttered segment

    • Do one thing better
    • Price my lowest tier lower then the competitors ( but not free ) and my best tier higher
    • Target a different market on Google ads or other platforms, many parts of the world speak English not only western countries. These places are often underserved by saas and have a higher GDP.
    • Do things that don't scale initially , your competition can't do this as good as you can. hand write your emails.

    the best thing in a cluttered segment is that you know for sure that the idea is tested and validated and people know what you offer.

  26. 4

    Imagine if Elon Musk got on Google and searched for car companies and said "oh shit, someone already has a car company, just found one called To-Yo-Ta. They even have electric engines in their cars like my idea."

    There is NEVER a single company for a sector. You can make the competition.

  27. 4

    Came across this thread recently. It might be useful:

  28. 4

    From my experience, every new startup and startup sector potentially creates new potential for startups. The Linktree/Link in bio space entire came about due to the single link limitation in platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. Linktree is now adding its own marketplace which opens up opportunities for new startups to find a limitation in the platform and create their own solutions.

    If you are looking for startup ideas, many simple ideas are created out of other people's problems.

  29. 4

    I'm doing a forms backend called fabform.io . Has forms been done to death. Probably LOL. I just try to do them better.

  30. 4

    If idea is taken then it means there is a market for it. Adjust it a little bit and you'll be good.

    For example: dating. But dating for christians, for HIV positive... whatever

    1. 1

      That's interesting and inspiring.

  31. 3

    As a creator, I have the same dilemma at times. Whatever I plan to write, design, create and share has already been created. I believe even founders are also people facing creative block.

    Below is a book I suggest reading – 'The Artist's Way' by Julia Cameron.

    Hope this non-technical and non-start-up suggestion helps.

  32. 3

    I think Laura Roeder said it best in her IH Podcast (ep #43ish i think): (paraphrasing)

    "It doesn't matter if the market is saturated. Why are developers the only people who care about if a competitor exists? You don't see any other industry care if a competitor exists. Look around your house, your home office. There are notebooks, water bottles, plates, mouse (mice?), USB mem sticks.

    None of these things are built by a single company - no one cornered the market on any of these. All of these things come from successful businesses with lots of competition.

    Jump into the market, carve your own niche, and take a small piece of the profit pie. There is enough room in any market for a new player. Stop making excuses."

    Point: If you are trying to find a unique never-before thought of ide for some reason, you are focusing on the wrong thing. Focus on a problem you can solve. A mundane, everyone has this problem, boring as F problem, and solve it. Once you can solve, charge for the solution.

    Ignore the competitors and just focus on your sliver of the profit pie.

    Source: Laura Roder started Edgar - a social media content 'organizer' with competitors like Buffer and others. She didn't care, ran it for years at a great profit, and recently sold it for probably another great profit.

  33. 3

    All useful advice has already been said. It's not possible to add value to this post anymore

  34. 3

    IMO I think you may be looking at this from the wrong perspective. For example I decided to start a business in the field of web design. I truly think there are more web designers than there are successful companies to design for and with the rise of no code programs popping up all over almost anyone can do web design. So how did I set myself and my company apart?

    Well, I started with reading a book called "The Blue Ocean Strategy" which teaches you how to get your product or service to fit into a already saturated niche.

    From there I took a look at what everyone in web design was doing which was simply offering websites, the only things that really set most companies and freelance web designers apart is their price and their portfolio.

    I knew I wanted to offer prospective clients a service that was transformative vs. additive. So I decided to create a web design agency focused around DTC eCommerce the customer experience. Yes, my company is a web design agency, but we don't sell websites. We sell immersive & engaging shopping experiences with web design being the catalyst.

    I think going into a saturated niche is a great thing to do. You already know exactly what works, you know what the other guys are doing, which gives you the option to build something better, something that gives the customer that added value. Value is the name of the game!

    Hope this helps

  35. 3

    I think the issue is that you only want to solve certain problems.

    If you have real passion for a problem you've seen, you'd realise you can actually have the same idea as someone else but for a completely different target audience, or geolocation or business model.

    Its not just about the problem your looking to solve but HOW you look to solve it (execution)

  36. 3

    This dilemma has crossed my mind at least a million times! I wrote a short piece today on a very similar topic. Its key message is:

    "Don't worry about reinventing the wheel, and don't worry about building YET another task management tool. Do worry about building the most user-inclusive product there is".

    A few bullet-points explaining the above:

    • Right now there is an obvious abundance of products and services in every single industry. This means one thing - the real battle right now is for users' hearts.

    • Focus less on the product (existing one), but more on its users: are they happy with the product? how much are they involved in the development of the product? do founders really listen to them and make relevant adjustments? etc.

    • We have come to the point where users, especially the very first ones, should be considered to be builders too.

    • Founders should switch from saying "WE will build a product to solve YOUR problem" to "Let's build a product TOGETHER to solve OUR problem".

    • 'User inclusiveness' is probably the right word to use here.

    • Start very small - e.g. your home town's bus drivers' community. Take huge care of your early users / focus group: constant feedback loop, amazing customer service, direct communication (e.g. discord group), incentives for users to throw in new ideas, fair prices, etc.

    • The greater connection you develop with your focus group, the greater are the chances of building the product that people actually need (and beating the competition).

    Hope it helped! You can find my full post here: https://www.indiehackers.com/post/one-reason-why-you-should-not-focus-on-re-inventing-the-wheel-870f536ff0

  37. 3

    " I won't open a burger place because there's McDonald's already.
    I won't open a coffee shop because there's Starbucks already "

    • still when I walk through the city there's countless burger places, pizza restaurants and coffee shops that are independent, small and give a unique atmosphere. It's easy to make a better burger than McDonald's but it's still a burger.

    I can understand you see large companies implementing your business ideas and in the digital world everything looks to be a click away but here's how I think about it: my project is the small, digital coffee place . It can't (at this point ) & won't event want to serve everyone in this world. It's super fulfilling to see my idea being used by others. Start with 10 people, reach maybe 100 in the future, maybe 1000 or more. Most of them will stay because they like what you do, some of them will even become your friends.

    1. 2

      Couldn't agree more with this - Before Facebook was Myspace which looked like it had the market swen up, venture backed etc until... it didn't. Before Google was netscape, again looked like a done deal. Before Uber there were plenty of minicab booking websites that hadn't blown up. Before tick tock there was vine and so on and so on.

  38. 3

    You don't need a "new" idea. You can focus on "improving" current ideas.

  39. 3

    One suggestion:

    Pick an established idea but apply it in a new field/industry/niche. The one advantage we have as indie makers is that we can move much faster than big companies. And whenever a new trend emerges, there's a ton of unclaimed land.

    What Pieter Levels did is like the perfect example of this. There were already plenty of job boards before. So what he did is combine the established idea of setting up a job board with a rapidly growing trend "remote work". The result Remote OK is making north of $1M per year now.

    Shameless plug: if you're interested in trends, you might find my project Under the Radar useful.

  40. 3

    Please do not think of a market with competitors as a lost cause.

    First, if there are competitors, it means there is a market, so be glad, someone has already validated the idea for you, you just have to be better than them at executing it.

    Second, a populated market is not the same as a cluttered market. The first has competition but still room for others, the latter is completely filled with coices for the user, they are not the same.

    Finally, as others have pointed, try going for a smaller audience in that same market, a niche. Focus on it and then build upwards.

    And believe me, there are always problems to solve.

  41. 3

    Build for other markets! Think different languages, Latin America, etc.

    There are lots of things that work in english, but they have just not been ported or adapted to other markets.

    I would like to talk about this if you are interested.

  42. 3

    You can build up on another person's idea, observe an idea, find out their short comings and improve it.

    1. 1

      Like you just read my mind. exactly what I was thinking of saying

  43. 3

    I'm creating a website builder. There are already lots of them, but I don't care. I'm scratching an itch.

    The thing is, it's not the type of product that lends itself to a monopoly, so there's always a place at the table for one more player. You'll find a lot of existing products fall into this category.

    Don't try to build the next social network, search engine, TikTok or two-sided marketplace. Go after a well-served niche with low barriers to entry and carve out your slice.

  44. 3

    Hey Zach, what's your process for finding and validating ideas?

    I always recommend reading "The Mom Test". You can start with an idea but the best thing to do is talk to users (pick an area that interests you!) about their problems and how they're currently solving them. You can then uncover gaps with current solutions.

    You can also find ideas from one geography that's getting traction and apply it to a new geography. Look at Crunchbase or other resources for startups that have raised their seed funding. Then understand how you can localise it by talking to users in your geography.

    Another great place to start is your own problems. If you can't find a product that solves your problem, then start to build it.

  45. 3

    One thing to remember, no one owns ideas and customers.

    It is all about how to strategize and double down work on bringing user's attention to your products.

  46. 2

    Odd question. If you are smart enough to have noticed this, you should be smart enough to know 2 things: First, there is no formula, if there was one, everyone would be doing it! Second, even if someone had a formula, he wouldn't share it with the public and even if they did, that formula would stop working in a very short period of time due to saturation. Different things work for different people at different times and different circumstances. Having said that, there are several ways THOUGH none of them will guarantee success. They would just increase your odds. One way I can share with you is to come up with around 3-4 thousand ideas (how is a whole different conversation) and then test each one of them super quickly (days if not hours per idea - how so fast is also another conversation). Statistics almost guarantee that 1 of those ideas will gain traction almost immediately. This however, is extremely difficult to do and very taxing on the brain and spirit. Not to mention that "almost guarantee" is not the same as "guarantee". I have only had the mental strength to do this twice in my life, both times resulting in successful businesses from day 1 and in industries I had zero prior knowledge and experience in. I am not sure I can do it a 3rd time though...

    P.S. A sure-fire way to do it is to become an influencers in some field and then almost anything you do, people will buy regardless of the competition.

  47. 2

    Haha, for whatever reason I did this differently.
    I wanted to build a product that I would've needed in my previous jobs and didn't have.
    I went out and startet https://loggify.app as I though I know the players in the market and didn't wanna buy any of their products.
    Now that I am in the space myself I find more and more tools in the space and most of them much nicer than the traditional ones. Still, none is like Loggify.
    I think there's a niche for everyone.

    1. 1

      Congrats on making it to #4 on PH Launch. Could you shaped your launch strategy in a saturated niche?

      1. 2

        TBH, I just started it and let everyone in my network know with a post and dms on Linkedin to every person i message with in the last 4 years. All headhunters, dev agencies, ... :D

  48. 2

    I think of startups kind of like pop songs. Hit songs are co-creations of culture; they both shape and are shaped by the cultural landscape that they emerge from. Because culture constantly evolves, there will always be new pop songs. And there will always be new startups. The business landscape might change from year to year, decade to decade, making it easier or harder to start a successful company, but people will still do it because people are funny like that. Just like a good songwriter, when you're considering a startup, you have to be a good listener, absorbing the other startups around you and asking yourself how you can leave your mark and stick out in the crowd. All this is to say, don't be discouraged. It's easy to be intimidated by all the other great startups out there, but spending time listening to the hits of the day is part of what it takes to write your song. You can do this.

  49. 2

    Try to proceed not from your own idea, but from your own problems that you want to solve.

    I had such an idea connected with a not very good case :)

    For example, I wondered why there are no services for getting likes in some areas that are not super popular (but quite popular niches in their field).

    Try to think about what you have difficulties in life or work.

    Also try the method when a popular product is taken, but you will come up with a target audience for it. For example, "Amazon for Plant lovers" (just an example)

  50. 2

    In 2014 Superhuman launched and raised $108,000,000 for (another) email app.

    Tesla is worth $1T and is the 6th most valuable company.

    You have a great idea, find it on Google and your stomach sinks:

    Someone's already done it.

    Launch it anyway.

    Nerd Wallet entered the crowded market of credit card recommendations in 2019.

    It's worth $750,000,000.

    Disney+ launched in 2019 - 12 YEARS after Netflix started streaming.

    It's worth $100,000,000,000.

    Even without a catalog of 600 movies, you should launch.

    Let's dig in!

    Existing products prove your idea. If there's a competitor - they've validated demand for you. They've spent marketing dollars educating the market. The product's existence proves there's a real problem people will pay to solve.

    But here's the real opportunity:

    The competition might have lost focus. In the drive for growth, startups add features to attract new users. This lack of focus is your opportunity to double down on what works.

    The last one's my favorite:

    You bring a different perspective. The way you might solve a problem is different than some else. Your experience brings a different marketing message and user experience.

    When should you NOT build?

    If you see your idea has been done and no longer care bout it, then it wasn't something you were passionate about. Ideas come and go. Building a product is a marathon.

    So you've decided to move forward, now what?

    Next time you have an idea, don't search. Let your subconscious dwell on the idea. Allow it to grow, meander, fester. Let your mind take the idea into new places. Write down all the related but equally exciting ideas. Give yourself the time to enjoy exploring the idea.

    So remember, the internet is vast. If your idea's already been done, there's still good reason to build.

  51. 2

    I've been running a problem validation forum for past 3 years, There are hundreds of need-gaps posted for existing solutions by people who face them, Which are subsequently validated by those who come searching for a solution for those need-gaps from search engines.

    So, Even if a problem is being addressed by many, The need-gaps in them warrant a new solution.

    e.g. You would think Google must have figured everything out with their solutions right? Well there seems to be a need-gap for showing Google calendar hidden guest list; There are about two dozen people who come looking for a solution to that every week.

  52. 2

    Every successful idea that you want to work on, keeping niche strategies aside, will come from first-principles thinking. Never assume things, question the status quo and your assumptions, and usually you will have a winning narrative.

  53. 2

    I understand where the feeling comes from and I'm sending good vibes your way.

    Still, there are tons of products launched each day. Not all of them are a success, but a few make it, so there's space for you too. It's just not easy!

    As an analogy, think about music: there are 12 notes and people have been composing music for centuries. Yet, every day new songs come out.

    1. 2

      Love the analogy! Honestly I've been having the same frustration as OP, but having this perspective of viewing each idea as a music, has made it more easier. Appreciate it!

  54. 2

    Alot of people have great ideas, not because they thought it up out of nowhere, but they discovered their ideas.

  55. 2

    Yes the other simple way to put it is if all problems already were 'solved' with perfect collection of companies for each that all perfectly solve the problem, then there would be no problems in the world. But clearly there is! We wake up feeling tired, we over eat, we feel lonely, we struggle to find love, friendship, clothes we like, a home to live in.

    The world is heating up, our food industry is fucking up our planet, government is corrupt.

    Or more positive problems like I'm not able to move to and buy a house on Mars yet, I want to live forever or whatever else.

    So clearly there's still lots of problems to be solved even if some people are working at solving them already.

    As @Imoptimal says, just find one you really give a fuck about and maybe with 5 years of effort you'll end up solving it better than anyone else.

  56. 2

    When FaceBook launched, there were many social networks already on the market, some of them already dying for lack of interest.

    When Android launched, there were many mobile operating systems already on the market.

    I can go on forever, but you get the point.

    You can do something different, or for a specific use case.

  57. 2

    Yes, that is totally discouraging when you tried so hard to come up with an exciting idea but it turns out to be full of competitors.
    With so many people on the world, it's hard to find an unique idea.
    However, when it comes to developer-entrepreneur, uniqueness might be unnecessary.
    "You need to abandon the hope of finding the next billion dollar idea inside your head,and instead look for it out there, in the heads of other people. You need to prioritize talking to potential users and customers above building things. You need to find a way to sell something without building it first, ideally without even having a prototype. You need to learn to wave your hands convincingly."

    1. 2

      This ☝️ I'm a developer myself. I don't think we realize how much we live in a techie bubble, and that prevents us from noticing a lot of the problem outside of it. Add to that the fact that we are highly trained at creating solutions to a problem we know, but not at narrowing down problems we don't know.

      That's why we end up creating so many solutions looking for a problem. 😄

      The non evergy-intensive process for this is to find a community you like (among you hobbies or example) and start listing things people complain about or struggle with. Then it's pretty much product management: ask the right questions, infer the right information, check market size etc.

      Edit: The mom test describes this process in a wonderful way.

      1. 1

        That is true.
        We should try to find the needs instead of an app idea.

  58. 2

    A familiar little pit of despair. Writers are prone to similar anxieties. "Everything worth saying has already been said. But, since nobody was listening, it must be said again" – so wrote André Gide. Amusingly, Goethe already had made the same point a century earlier. Jean de La Bruyère had said the same thing in the seventeenth century. Augustine had written more or less the same thing in late Antiquity. And Ecclesiastes had beaten everyone to the punch centuries before that: "There is nothing new under the sun."

  59. 2

    When I bought and managed my logo-maker business, Instant Logo Design, I already searched the market and knew that there are quite a lot of competitors that I have to take on.

    But just like any other business in the world, there will always be a chain of competitors in the market. And this makes it even more interesting. It will always fall down on how 'better' your products or services are, and how effective your sales and marketing team in catching up with the latest trend, building audience, and tickling down your prospect's issues and solve them with the help of your brand.

    Look at the evolution of the social media sites: Multiply > Friendster > Facebook. As much as I thought Multiply will stay and revolutionize the world forever, FACEBOOK outdid them all.

  60. 2

    @ZergLurker I had a similar mental blocks for multiple years, whenever I want to build an idea. Later I figured out all great products were invented multiple decades back . VisiCalc was the first excel sheet introduced in 1979, Followed by MsExcel and many. Now, Airtable is the the newest form of excel sheet which is a threat for many softwares. Tomorrow someone will build something better than Airtable. What worked for me is to sit back and build what I like more, after multiple years now I have a clue how to improve on some product which improved my product thinking.

    Stop Thinking! Start Building!... One step a day is better than wait for so long.

    Please check my latest product https://www.voicebacks.com/

  61. 2

    @ZergLurker - Build a SC3 substitute ... or go work at Frost Giant / Dream Haven for inspiration ;)

  62. 2

    I'm building Calendly alternative. I receive feedback like "you are more intuitive" or "this is what I needed for my team". So I think there is always some way to compete with others. Get 2-3 products, mix them it's enough to start. Then let users tell you what they need.

    1. 2

      How do you market it?
      And how do you get your first customer?

      1. 2

        It's a secret ... no I'm kidding 😅 We just try many things. Linkedin direct messages, my and my co-founder's personal network. I have 10 years of experience as a software developer so I have some clients in my portfolio who use Zencal. It's hard to say what works best but IndieHackers, Twitter even Reddit is good for content distribution. How you sell your product depends on the target group. The most important I think is to know for who do you create your product. Furthermore, what I can recommend is automation. Automate your processes like content publication or newsletters.

  63. 2

    Do you realize that this is a community where plenty of people have done and continue to do exactly what you say is impossible on a daily basis?

  64. 2

    It's not impossible to build a startup, but it is getting harder and harder as more and more ideas are taken. I think the best approach is to focus on a specific niche and try to be the best in that niche. It's also important to have a great team and execute your business plan well.

  65. 2

    @Zerklurker I couldn’t agree more. There will always be new ideas, but they’re usually in some way or another based on what came before. Just look at what https://www.pallet.com/ is doing with the job search vertical.

    My personal approach is to not be put off by a competitor's progress. But be guided by it. It’ll show that your idea can be done and the market is there for it. And I know that you know you can differentiate. But I suggest thats what you should focus on.

    A fresh idea will give you first mover advantage and thats all well and good, but if you’re late to the party a better way to stack the odds of success in your favor is to not shy away from the competition a put your twist on the model.

    To differentiate effectively study what they do, finding out the metrics they espouse if they’re an open startup. Read articles about how they ‘found’ their idea and how they brought it to life. If they have any modicum of success they’ll be article on it with IH, HackerNoon and the likes.

    I’ve spent far too long trying to reinvent the wheel. Any trifling success I’ve had as an indie hacker has come by studying what the competition is doing - no matter how saturated the market may be - and differentiating on what they offer. Be it a cheap pop like being lower price, or instead of niching down even apply the business model to other verticals. Any emulation and executing ideas, for me, is always more successful than coming up with ‘original’ ideas.

    I’m taking that ethos and studying proven business models with Unapologetic Indie Hacking. It's my label to launch different takes on indie businesses that are successful.

    I’ve just launched trajectory.co which is my alternative to the “VC funded lead lists to your inbox every month” that have gained popularity. I highlight how the concept has been differentiated on IndieHackers here:

    https://www.indiehackers.com/post/how-to-land-high-growth-clients-when-everybody-else-is-chasing-vc-funded-startups-cf29f53e73

    I’ve also launched https://fuelanceleads.xyz/ as an alternative to the freelance jobs newsletter. With it I give the resources to help build a freelance career instead of just sending a list of jobs.

    And I’m launching more concepts in the weeks to come. All by differentiation.

    Take this as proof that while ideas are all virtually taken theres enough room to make your mark if you just do them a little and add your own unique perspective it

  66. 2

    I have also thought about the same quite a few times. What I have come to realise is, you actually don't need a product that is very unique. Obviously, you must take the time and do your due diligence. Talk to users and understand their pain points. Following this, build your product. You will most likely come up with something that is niche.

    Some things that I find useful is to look at how other people are building their business. This definitely helps me understand some potential problems to solve.

  67. 2

    I feel you on this. I spend about a month just researching my list of problems and there was not a single problem that didn't have at least 5 established companies fighting in the space. Sometimes i think this is where luck comes into the picture.

    One thing I've noticed though from many indie hackers' journies is that when they set out to build something, they learn of some other problem along the way and that leads to their success. It's like the skill of navigating the unknown and being flexible is as important as execution.

  68. 2

    The good news is the idea is not anywhere nearly as important as the execution.

    There are TONS of personal finance tools, but I still built BudgetSheet, and have been having a lot of success with it.

    There are even many other direct competitors that also link bank accounts to Google Sheets. I am still doing well though because of how much better integrated BudgetSheet is into Google Sheets than my competitors that are just web apps that control a sheet with APIs in the background.

    Lots of competitors proves there is a market for it. Focus on better execution!

    1. 2

      How are you marketing BudgetSheet? What acquisition channels have worked for you?

      1. 1

        Have same question.

  69. 2

    Very good topic, unfortunately nowadays it is quite difficult to come up with something new, but the point will be in the details.

    Take PM tools and solutions for example, there are as many as the stars in the sky, but new ones are constantly coming out because even small differences can matter a lot.

    Our product is https://get.motivac.io which is a culture-building micro-feedback platform. The idea came many years ago, that we would like to give each other positive feedback and in exchange for this, reward the team members.
    We couldn't find a tool that would have covered our offline process until then (monthly election), so we started making our own, but absolutely only for ourselves, which eventually grew out of itself for a startup product.

    Since then, the market has been full of similar solutions, but we still have a right to exist (both for us and for them) because we are still different in small things.

    Others have already written before me that the competition validates the problem, this is a good sign (we took it as such).

    The point is that the product have to find its identity and the market that needs exactly the way of thinking and solution that you provide

  70. 2

    Same! It can be very discouraging when I have a new idea but see some other people already way ahead.

    One thing I like to do is take a look at the top competitors and look at 3 things I don’t like/find unhelpful about the way they solve that problem.

    Then attack those 3 areas!

    1. 1

      I would like to add, looking at things which one doesn't like, doesn't necessarily mean that those things would be valuable for the market though.

      There's still the step of validating if those things are truly helpful for the market.

      The size of gaps matter too... If competitor notices churn due to missing features, they will immediately build it.

      It's truly red ocean days

  71. 2

    It's always the same issue.
    If your goal is to create something completely new, then you will end up with nothing at all.

    Think of an artist.
    Why would someone bother to paint a picture if the subject already exists?

    Because it's not about creating something never seen before, but something that enough people like.

  72. 2

    Yes, you're right, all bicycles have already been invented. But it is possible to develop this or that idea and get away from the competitors. When we implemented our product https://getscreen.me/ we were also worried that we would not be able to occupy our niche between such well-known services as Teamviewer or Anydesk. However, their former clients come to us now. And there are over 100 software in the field of remote access and it's quite difficult to find your place! But so far we have succeeded. So go for it, it's all in your hands!

  73. 1

    It feels that way but the "next big thing" is always around the corner and will give you a "why didn't I think of that" moment. If you YouTube Peter Theil on this subject he discusses why the next Facebook won't be anything like Facebook.

  74. 1

    Weak statement - ERP is dying - All the money moves to stand alone solutions like Salesforce and Workday. There are 100,000 more not developed yet. Need ideas, just scan https://www.odoo.com/. Pick one use case and build a excellent stand alone product. And I mean look at ZOHO and how they try to move in that direction.

  75. 1

    You don't need to build an entirely new thing. In fact, I'd say that's almost impossible. Everything you build will be on top of what came before it.

    So... build your own spin on existing ideas. You can build something unique by combining ideas. As an idea matures you'll have plenty of opportunities to do something completely unique with it.

    Validation is incredibly important, esp. if you're just starting out. You are not going to find a better shortcut than to build something people are already paying for. Competition is validation.

  76. 1

    Fascinating point. I personally like to intertwine ideas from totally irrelevant fields to see what comes up, then I continue down the rabbit of "What if". Of course, a lot of ideas that pop up become rather delusionary, to the point where tech hasn't caught up yet, but I enjoy the process of it. The power of observation, curiosity and distorting the reality field with imagination is crucial, and I think we need to be playful about it. Wish everyone a prosperous life!

  77. 1

    What you are saying is purely your experience.. there are new ideas on a daily basis that still don't exist.

    In other words, the ideas you have are something someone else thought about already, but that doesn't mean that all new ideas are like that.

    Anyway, as others mentioned, that's not necessarily a bad sign. That shows that there might be an actual demand to it.
    Maybe your idea could be localized to the market of your country / city or to a specific audience?

  78. 1

    Biotech. It's exploding with new new ideas. Check out CRISPR. It's kind of mind blowing new bio tech. Lots of super informative info online.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uv00zcAYyhQ

  79. 1

    What about when a new technology arises? An example would be GPT-3, and what I'm working on right now: https://www.askedith.ai

  80. 1

    I think there are so many niche problems to be solved and they don't have to be massive. You don't need to be the next Airbnb. While I don't have any current ideas off the top of my head, there are so many times where my co-founders and I discuss a situation and realize there's no viable solution currently on the market. We Google it and sure enough nothing exists! If it does, it surely doesn't rank well on Google. ;) Anyway, in conclusion, I'd say 'think small' here ha!

  81. 1

    For indie hacker I think (not sure) you will become successful if you have a community. From your community you lunch a product and then you will get loyal customers. You are blogger , Vlogger, YouTube , twitter with good following.
    There is also combining two or more products to make a new product Or do one specific things better than others. These are all for bootstrapping an idea without going toward
    startup path.
    I believe startup should be different because it is mainly you need to raise money and have astounding team ,right timing and knowing right people.

  82. 1

    Most of the successful indie hackers I follow online don't have a new or initiative product.

    They have either solved a simple problem in a clever way, or solved a problem which has already been solved, but in a different or 'better' way (better being subjective).

    Having competitors which are succesful in your niche/market is usually a good sign, it means that your product could definitely succeed as these others are succeeding!

    The way I think about it is that there are thousands if not millions of people or businesses willing to buy into software products that make their life easier. Realistically you only need a tiny percentage of those to actually make a success of yourself.

    e.g. $30 per month x 250 customers = $7,500 per month or $90,000 a year!

    If you are able to solve a problem for 250 people and charge $30 per month for it, you could make $100k a year.

    Chances are if you can convince 250 people to use your product, you can convince a lot more people than that!

  83. 1

    Hey Zach!

    I think the fact there are competitors on the market is actually a good thing; it shows it's an actual problem that is being solved.

    What I would do if I were you is look and see what those competitors are doing and how you would do it differently

    Here's an example in the CRM world:

    Hubspot => Built for marketing teams that want to automate + be data driven

    Pipedrive =>Built with sales teams in mind and provide them with everything they might need (forecasting, in depth pipeline management, etc..)

    Hope this helps 😊

  84. 1

    you are going about this all wrong. You need to find someone that has lived a problem intimately. Thats the only fail safe way to know how to speak into the listening of your customer.

  85. 1

    the ocean has plenty of fish = there're loads of room for new businesses. it can be a better UX/UI than a competitor has, just one unique feature, niche-ing on some local market. or just better marketing...

  86. 1

    You know when you lose something and get frustrated because you have searched absolutely everywhere without finding it. Yet somehow, after you have stopped thinking about it and went to do other things, it somehow just magically appears in front of you.

    Coming up with a useful idea that no one has thought before is exhaustive but not impossible. Just keep focusing on growing, finding niche solutions to problems, following some of the advice in the comments , and most definitely helping others! This will result in that unique idea your looking for to seem to have magically appear in front of you and you will be better than ever prepared to take full advantage of the opportunity.

  87. 1

    There are plenty of good businesses to run that have lots of competition. Eg a dev shop. 10000 exist. And another 10000 will exist and rhrive too.

    Look at web3 if you’re looking to build products with a somewhat open landscape. Although still loads of competition there too, it’s a world which is developing very quickly with constant new opportunities.

  88. 1

    Ideas now live in different connections between what was invented before.

  89. 1

    Look to re-invent it or niche it down:

    • Website builders have been around for 20+years but Webflow came.
    • Online docs have been around for 20+years but Notion came.
    • Messenger apps have been around for 20+years but Telegram came.
  90. 1

    Look at the reviews of any industry and you'll find a lot of unhappy customers.

    There is always room for someone that cares more/ does a better/different job, or just tells a better story.

    There is no shortage of crypto newsletters, but The Milk Road has added over 150k subscribers this year.

    There are countless Twitter tools, yet TweetHunter hit $1m ARR this year.

    There are endless business newsletters, yet The Daily Upside grew to over 300k subscribers.

    Choose a competitive niche and bring a unique angle to it.

  91. 1

    I spent a lot of months studying strategies about coming up with promising ideas. I've many ideas myself in e-commerce, creators market. If someone feels lost and wants to discuss about this topic, feel free to send me a message on Twitter @tom_maks, I would be really happy.

  92. 1

    Undoubtedly the ideas that could have sprouted new unicorns have already been taken up by some new startup or some unicorn. But having worked in the investment promotion sector for a long time, I have seen that as the startup space becomes more and more chaotic and granular, the space also leads to inter-linkages of various ideas and thought processes. While a company could have already taken up an idea in a unique way and grown big, I think its possible another could take up the same idea and build a completely different solution around it. The real will enable a lot of variables in the form of customer preferences, marketing preferences, regulations, geographic constraints etc which will only make the potential for a start up to ground an idea in a brand new way always. But of course, it will get tougher to implement solutions, reach out to people as governments around the world tighten the norms on data privacy, marketing and whatnot.

  93. 1

    All Ideas are Taken But to Build a startup you need to stand out from others. You can work on the same idea but in a different way. The More Creative you work your chance to succeed will increase. You Need a proper strategy to build a startup.

  94. 1

    The problem is not that every idea is taken, the problem is do you only want to solve certain problems. There are a ton of problems out there that no one is touching because they have higher barrier to entry or need significant legwork. For example - Single use plastic pollution is a massive problem we all know of but I don't know anyone trying to solve it.

  95. 1

    There is always room for better product - if product exist this is just a proof that there is value in the market.

  96. 1

    Well, you're not wrong...

  97. 1

    Weak statement - many businesses are waiting to start.

  98. 1

    Seriously? There are plenty of new things you can bring to the market.

    Just look at my latest tech startup, https://skilledup.life - free talent for tech startups.

    I don't think anyone else is executing on the same idea. Don't worry about the market. Find a problem you have. Focus on it.

    I never ever have gone wondering about looking for a startup idea.

    If you are really stuck, join a tech startup. Learn the trade and see what problems they might have. Sometimes all you need is a feature that could later turned into an amazing product and a business, e.g. Buffer.

    All the best.

    PS: By the way, we are intentionally leaving gaps in our product for others to fill.

  99. 1

    I‘ve been thinking about this for quite a while, and I concluded that perhaps not all ideas are needed to be turned into a startup. Essentially if you have unique value to give to people, it could be given in other formats.

    So, how about service, instead of a product?

  100. 1

    We are too focused on the idea. But actually, the most important thing is to have buyers. You can build another "pencil" and be successful as long as you have people willing to buy it. Do not start with the idea but start with the audience instead. I have created a step by step guide to help makers follow the "Audience First Approach"

    1. 1

      This comment was deleted 16 days ago.

      1. 1

        Yes, most of my MRR comes from the WBE Space. However, most of the knowledge in the guide comes from my interviews with bootstrappers that are much more successful than myself

  101. 1

    It's so discouraging to place your hopes on a market that is already filled

    Would you rather place your hopes into a market that doesn't exist yet or doesn't have to exist next year?

    Being first is not that good of a deal here. You need to figure out everything for yourself, all of your mistakes will be costly. If a market already exists, you can catch up pretty fast.

  102. 1

    In my opinion, though it's discouraging, it also comes down to perspective.

    Is it a mature market segment / category or a new one that you are looking into? If it is relatively new and competitors are still young, 2-4 years old, then use that to your advantage. Move quick based on areas that they validated and learn to avoid mistakes that they've made in the past to quickly catch up to them before you then differentiate based on market feedback.

    Competition is unavoidable but it can be leveraged to increase your learning of the market and customer needs if you dig deeper in your research.

    It is way easier to have multiple companies validating / invalidating a new space rather than you doing it alone. The sales cycle for unproven and absolutely new markets are usually a lot more difficult as they tend to require educating and changing consumer behaviors so why not let early movers in your space do the educating first before you capture market share?

  103. 1

    You can make things cheaper and scalable and targeting certain niches.

  104. 1

    Finding ideas is hard.

    Wipe out your tears and get back to shipping.

    You can reduce audience, niche down, or just COMPETE! you can do it too if it is what you want.

  105. 1

    I think you can always think of existing things not being perfect. There are so many services out there, but still you can think of an existing service of being somehow "incomplete" or that you can do it better. Just analyze your competitors and find their weaknesses and strengths. Implement the strengths and fix the weaknesses and focus your marketing on the weaknesses your service fixes.

  106. 1

    Just build one thing whatever it is, and niche down on one personality. If coca-cola printed anime girls on cans, how many pepsi anime lovers would switch to drinking coca? Same with saas and ideas. Appeal to one demographic, build an UI that is close to them and serve them whatever you want.

  107. 1

    One way to approach that problem is to serve the startups that are already out there: build something they need for them.

  108. 1

    I agree on what you said but there is also one more thing to consider: it's more difficult to convince users nowadays compared to the past - people are used to use nice and well done UIs and tend to be more diffident.

  109. 1

    I have 1 8-figure idea, 2 7-figure ideas, and 2 six-figure ideas. I know execution is king, so I built one of the easiest ideas in the past 2 months, and now trying to sell haha. I will slowly implement everything in the next 2-4 years as my team grows.

  110. 1

    Second- or third-movers can sometimes have an advantage, I think -- when you aren't the very first to do something, you already have an idea of what works and what users want. There's often a lot of room to do something similar, but better than the incumbents.

  111. 1

    Something I am doing now. Offer something that another saas require you to buy a minimum of 2-3 licenses and offer it with no minimum limit (same base price).
    A lot of clients today are budget conscious so they might opt to buy from you even if you are not THE brand.

  112. 1

    The first and most important thing is your passion towards a certain topic/issue(s) you want to solve... everything else flows from that.
    That's especially important for areas where there's already other players providing their solutions, because you'll need perseverance in order to get a piece of the pie on the already saturated market.

  113. 1

    try a different region of the world or something else, like startups serving startups

  114. 1

    Look if you're trying to do a unicorn startup (has to scale or improve by 10X process what already solves before) then maybe, but I'm still skeptical.

    But if you want to own a business or do you own thing (this is indiehackers afer all) then you only need to do something better than what already exists for a group that is looking for something better. Think about how many places serve the same kinds of foods and how they approach it differently, difference in quality, atmosphere, clientele, flavor, ingredients, related product upsells, convenience, speed or even just look and feel.

    There are a lot of ways to make something better, I remember last time I was in las vegas, some kids were selling ice cold water bottles for a bit more than you normally buy them, the location, convenience and fact is was cold made it worth paying that extra. Or you can literally make it better by increased speed, more intuitive UI, making it more specialized for a specific task.

    Also making something specifically for a specific audience, I can make websites for anyone, it's not that hard but if I was a specialist who dealt with only mountain side real estate agents, and I really knew how to present that, what works best for them to upsell, maybe even if I had my own drone to get hard to get footage, then I now offer something else entirely for a specific group, even if it is basically the same.

    Have to keep in mind as well that first to market isn't always the most successful, often it's second to market, or even the tenth so long as theirs is the best execution. Facebook wasn't really much better than myspace, and people forget but there were a lot of others that tried to be in that same space back then too, i've forgotten more of their names than I can remember to be honest. All facebook did better was have a better UI and targeted a specific audience (college kids at the time) later they expanded to other audiences.

    Anyway the long and the short of it is, even if an idea has been done, has it been done the way you want it, or the way a certain audience wants it? There are always options, especially if you aren't trying to be a unicorn.

  115. 1

    You wanna be building an idea that already exists. Just make sure the market isn’t saturated, and ride the wave.

  116. 1

    Adding up to other answers in this post, there are markets with multiple winners so you can build a profitable business even with a lot of competition.

  117. 1

    Niche to the win. Get niche as much as possible.

  118. 1

    Excuses are easier and more abundant than solutions. You can see this mindset play out in your daily life. Few problems require true innovation, and no business innovates forever. Change your frame of reference or grow comfortable earning a salary.

  119. 1

    well, I think it's more about the approach now a days, it's not about I have a pony! it's about I have the most well behaved and groomed horse that'll never hurt you!

    but again idk

  120. 1

    There are 4 real problems in life birth, disease, old age and death. What makes them real is that everyone faces them , no one wants them. So like the biggest market ever. Not enough people solving these. Go preach.

  121. 1

    I am sure you have plenty of problems or frustrations, you could build for those. Or talk with some people and business owners about their problems. Or find a space where startups or bigger companies are already serving it, identify some of their shortcomings and enter their market while addressing those shortcomings.

  122. 1

    I'm getting tired of those who say there are still countless problems to solve in this world.

    Unless you think that humanity has reached its ultimate zenith, both technologically and in terms of business processes, there are problems to solve. People ALWAYS want more/better/different!

    I do a quick Google search for whatever idea I come up with and guess what? The niche is already cluttered with a bunch of competitors in the field.

    I don't know how old you are, but usually this problem is from living in too much of a traditional bubble.

    My advice is to go to the frontier.

    It could be a technological frontier like VR/AR, AI, blockchain or related technologies like zero knowledge proofs. It could also be a social frontier—micro homes, startup cities, tech coops, etc. Both Tim Ferriss and Pieter Levels built their personal brands and businesses around then small but growing social trends (geo-arbitrage via outsourcing, abandoning the 9-5, digital nomadism, etc).

  123. 1

    There is a quote (wrongly) we all heard about, attributed to Charles H Duell, Commissioner of the US Patent Office at the start of the 20th century:

    Everything that can be invented has been invented.

    It is, probably, impossible. I think it is the same with your proposition.

    Thanks to the somewhat democratisation of the means of production, the barriers to entry to certain sectors, especially evident in XaaS (replace X with S, P, MS, whatever), there is a crowding. And there is very little that you can do about that issue.

    What you can do is either create a market or strategize the hell out of others in a market, segment or (multiple) niche(s).

    Your comment shows that you are looking at areas where both problem awareness and solution availability exist. Finding areas where solution maturity does not exist requires mostly custom-built solutions. That would need a lot of tailor-made client work. If you didn't yet, I'd advise you to read Wardley Maps by Simon Wardley to understand how markets mature, especially in the IT/software domain.

    Once you understand that by default, SaaS products serve where problem awareness is high therefore solution availability is high, with very few exceptions, you will be able to understand the kind of plays you will need to do.

    You can either go after a "frontier" problem, which will need huge marketing costs around problem awareness raising but possibly provides you with a first movers advantage or you will need to do an extreme market targeting, which will have existing and possibly established players.

    Both have their own challenges.

    But I have to warn you: if you find a frontier problem that is yet to be addressed, there is a possibility that after you create a market, bigger players might move in and fight you for market share. If you don't have the resources, they will likely succeed. The only option is to find "too much work for too little gain" markets that bigger players will be uninterested in.

  124. 1

    Untrue! I've got a newsletter full of ideas you can peruse.

    But I think the right answer these days is that ideas are good, but market validation and talking to customers is better. If you want to find what to build, find people in an industry you know of with a pressing problem to be solved.

    I'm putting out a new edition this sunday (it comes out sunday nights), but here's the latest edition

  125. 1

    You are right that most ideas are taken. However if you observe in depth, I would reword it as "Every EASY idea is taken" . So my take on approaching this is

    1. Go for tougher problems ( Yes it definitely requires effort but worth it in long run)
    2. Go from Niche to Ultra Niche ( Based on my guess this would be the next trend )
  126. 1

    Only because YOU can't find it, doesn't mean it can't be found.
    Maybe your processes are broken, maybe you lack experience, maybe you look for excuses, maybe you idealize the "unique idea" too much, maybe your research on potential competition is flawed, or maybe you generalize. Improve your processes, learn different points of view, adjust your mindset, take a break from all kinds of mainstream media, and try to think outside of the box - unless you want to have the same ideas as everyone.
    It's impossible to say with the limited information you gave us. Is this how you look for ideas? With limited information and insight on why things are, as they are?
    The world is MASSIVE. There are unlimited ideas - I could spill a few that have no competitors right away without sweating.
    But without learning yourself, that would cause only harm.
    Eventually, you'll get there.

  127. 1

    This can feel frustrating. I see startups going into saturated markets and dominating within 3 years quite a lot. I recently watched a job placement startup and a microphone startup do it. Those are busy markets!

    1. Try combining two problems into one and solve that.
    2. What's your edge or superpower? Lean into that no matter how busy the market is.
  128. 1

    I feel what you are going through but as long as there is innovation and breakthroughs happening in industries, the world will not run out of opportunities. There was the Internet, Social Media, AI, and Web3.0 and at each bubble, creators made money. It doesn't matter whether the bubble bursts or not if you have made a couple of million dollars from what you have created.

    The world is moving fast and opportunities come and go. We should be smart enough to identify them as soon as possible so we could build products that make a real difference in people's lives. Sometimes, there could be big players in the market but no product can fulfill the desires of all the customers. There could be factors they lack - it could be a lack of innovation in legacy products that are already established in the market, it could be value for money, etc. Try to understand those pain points and define your niche market before starting to build your dream product.

  129. 1

    May sound like a cliche, but with all the discontent in the world today (and yes, I’m old enough to remember the world 10years ago) there’s plenty of problems to solve.

    Also consider what commodities are so plentiful, that you can acquire thm relatively cheaply and use them to provide differentiation and value add. Today that can be information.

    When my dad was a kid, a telephone was too expensive for him and his family. So he could never start a company with a telephone and provide something like a call center (for example) As a service. But around the same time, land was cheap, and Ray Kroc saw the oppotunity to buy up plentiful land and deploy fast food operations around the country.

    Today cell phones are ubiquitous. So thats something cheap you can use to solve a host of problems.

  130. 1

    Hey there! I totally understand your frustrations. But every time I think the same I am getting back to where it all started.

    Yes of course, at the start of the 2000s literally everything could've been transferred to web. That's how basically it all started, right? People just could've dreams of having online banks and they started to create one.

    What I believe is that today is basically the same but with a different magnitude. Just because so much of the life get to internet there a places where we can go and grab a niche, because another internet business (startup) opened it for us.

    I believe that it's much harder, but majority of comments suggest narrowing the scope down which I believe can help. Because there are very large pile of some stuff thrown to the internet and there are places where nothing still happened.

    Speaking about the specific thing, I do believe that by having so many good products on the web, a new wave of integration softwares are rising, one integrates with a other to make it much easier to use. That's my subjective opinion of course. But yeah! Keep it up, you will eventually see something to build!

  131. 1

    If you think how many amazing products and services have been created in the last 5 years, you know that’s not true really.

    But, it’s also ok to step back for a bit and not be building! You might find that ideas start to come once you stop looking so hard for them 😊

  132. 1

    Yeah, I get it. But there are ideas to be had that, while not necessarily "new", are certainly actionable. Otherwise, how would all these indie hackers be making money?

    There are ways to find those ideas. The top post of all time on IH is @csallen's post about brainstorming ideas so don't miss that. And here's another one that I bookmarked.

  133. 1

    Why are you searching google? Go talk to some real people doing real things, ask what they are struggling with, what their problems are. It starts with the potential customer, not with some idea in your head.

  134. 1

    Simply not true.

    Every time something just becomes a little niche, you open a million things that could be improved. If you feel this, try to get a job in some kind of industry. Every industry has millions of smaller pains you can solve. Fun fact, "smaller pains" becomes very big industries if you're the leading solution globally.

  135. 1

    I think, if we dig a big deeper, it's more about the iron grip of academia and government on fundamental innovation, especially in physics.

    I say this because you can build a better mouse trap only for so long. And once you do, it's generally used to control what people think (say search engines, social media).

    Check this out: 93% of external physics spending comes from the Federal government: https://www.thecrimson.com/article/2011/10/26/physics-department-federal-funds/.

    Is that good? Yes, in a sense that lots of smart people are getting paid and can afford a house.

    No, it's not good otherwise, because the politics of getting this money are horrendous. A few bureaucrats decide first what is deserving, and then they ask for proposals.

    If you have a revolutionary idea, it won't be a fit. It means no Teslas on a horizon anytime soon. And no new Einsteins either.

    It's been said many times that if Einstein were living now, he'd probably achieve nothing. He was against peer review as a gate keeping mechanism, but he was supporting it as a means of discussion.

    I think that's how it should be. But it isn't. That's an important difference that most people don't get. Peer review has become a tool to block other ideas from getting your government grant money.

    Again, people don't appreciate how stale fundamental physics research has become. Nothing but a huge money play by established players.

    So no leaps in fundamental progress, no chance for truly magnificent startups.

  136. 1

    Of course nothing is ever (or very rarely) "new". Google created their search even if "search" existed before. They just did it better. Same with probably most products. There has been CRM:s since computers were invented. Havent stoped people from creating successful CRM:s today and so on. Of course if you enter a competitive space and you arent doing anything "better" than the rest then you might have a hard time

  137. 1

    Actually there's lots of opportunities that by default the established can't be allowed to invest in.

    For example, a company with $100B valuation, the minimum revenue required for any of their initiative is at least $1B. Any project with less value than $1B will just be thrown out.

  138. 1

    Hey Zach
    Maybe every idea is taken but are all users problems solved ? Absolutely not
    And then, having competitors means there is an existing market ready to sell to

    Wishing you good luck 🤘

  139. 1

    There's always something and if you find big competitors in the niche you're interested in; well do it better and cheaper.

  140. 1

    This is definitely not true and there's an enormous amount of problems to be solved by software. Just today I saw a new startup that makes Slack and Discord communities searchable in Google by turning threads into web pages.

    It's a great idea that solves a real problem and is not super complicated to build. Actually kicking myself for not thinking of it.

  141. 1

    I have the same exact problem.

  142. 1

    An excellent observation is that for almost every idea, there will be some sort of solution built and presented. BUT not necessarily "used".

    The idea is to build a version that gets used by people who face that problem.

    How to build a useful version of the problem? That's where the creativity lies and a good startup idea.

    A startup idea is NOT about solving a problem but creatively solving a problem.

  143. 1

    I approach by building something I'm passionate about and that I truly believe people find value in. It may take some time to build but that time I enjoyed that time spent since I like what I'm building. Then I spend the rest of the rest of the time marketing the heck out of it. Tell everybody and everything about your project. At the end of the day, the loudest cheerleader should be yourself.

    1. 1

      I'd love to hear more about "marketing the heck out of it"!

      What 3 marketing channels have gotten you the most paying customers?

      1. 2

        Maintain a blog and write articles about your product, the industry the product is in, what the benefits/features differentiate your product, etc. Get your blog out on sites like Reddit, Hacker News, Lobsters, etc. Get others to talk about your product. The more backlinks, the more traffic Google will eventually send to you. Make sure your website/landing page and blog is SEO ready. Pick a few keywords you can be competitive on and have those keywords in your pages.

  144. 1

    It is usually frustrating I know.

    Some good advice from the comment section.

    I know it is something you have before but picking a product that you don't like and improving it to fit your needs is actually a good idea because they might be many people out there who are like you.

    The problem is how will be able to reach those people.

  145. 0

    With that mentality you have already lost…

  146. 0

    Best software online check writer.. U all go for it this is great this is best.. I using this from 30days up and really this is amazing...

  147. 0

    A honest piece of advice man - create a team and then search.

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