Your #1 competitor starting out will always be the BACK button, nothing else. – Garry Tan
Suppose you have an idea for a startup, and then do some research only to discover there are already similar products on the market. You become disheartened and wonder if you should abandon your idea.
In fact, the existence of competing products is a meaningful signal, but not necessarily a negative one. Here are some reasons why.
1) Almost every good idea has already been built. Sometimes new ideas are just ahead of their time. There were probably 50 companies that tried to do viral video sharing before YouTube. Before 2005, when YouTube was founded, relatively few users had broadband and video cameras. YouTube also took advantage of the latest version of Flash that could play videos seamlessly.
Other times existing companies simply didn’t execute well. Google and Facebook launched long after their competitors, but executed incredibly well and focused on the right things. When Google launched, other search engines like Yahoo, Excite, and Lycos were focused on becoming multipurpose “portals” and had de-prioritized search (Yahoo even outsourced their search technology).