Ruud Niew - Indie Creativity Unleashed

Ruud Niew

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Unique ideas vs existing ideas

Competition helps you succeed

Back when I started Indie Hacking, I used to look for unique (app) ideas that didn’t exist yet. Every now and then I would get this crazy app idea that I thought would be a guaranteed success. I would get overly excited, buy a domain name and start hacking away. But every single time, my excitement disappeared like snow in the sun, the moment I found out that even a single competitor was doing something similar.

I now think this was a mistake. A mistake I made way too many times. Obviously there are advantages to being the first in your field, but it’s not as great as it’s made out to be.

What about you? Would you rather work on a unique idea or an existing idea?

The story in under 60 seconds

Since you all were so nice about my first YouTube short last week, I made a new short about this topic:

Unique ideas are great

The upside of being the first to launch an idea is that you’ll become an authority in your field more easily. With the endless scalability that comes with modern technology, you can grow your company to millions in revenue before there’s even any competition.

So why is it a mistake to look for a unique idea to work on as an Indie Hacker?

  1. You’re unlikely to find a truly unique idea. There’s nothing new under the sun, and there’s almost always someone that thought of the exact same thing as you did
  2. If you manage to find a unique idea, it’s unlikely there’s a big market for it yet. You’ll have to educate your audience on why your idea should matter to them
  3. Though it’s possible to go viral, it’s difficult to keep the public’s attention and to benefit from it long term. When was the last time you were active on Clubhouse?
  4. Maintaining your first mover advantage is near-impossible in a fast moving tech market
  5. Validating a unique idea takes a long time, and Indie Hackers don’t generally have a massive runway to work with

Existing ideas with competitors are easier to build

because the idea is already validated by your competition. You can basically skip a few steps that normally take a lot of time, money and effort. Existing products with proven markets open up a whole new world of opportunities for Indie Hackers:

  • Geographical opportunities
  • Bundling or unbundling
  • Moving upmarket or downmarket
  • Improving on existing products' features or pricing
  • Which opportunities did I miss? Let me know!

When working on an existing product idea you might work towards a smaller piece of the pie, but at least you know there is a pie to be had!