Building a Web 2.0 startup: Part 1 – idea and analysis of competitors

Previous posts:

One of the fundamental aspects for the start of a startup, especially in the web world, is to have a good initial idea.

Often you think you have found the right idea for a successful application, but things then prove otherwise.

Happened to us too many times to wake up any minute and say “This time I get the idea!” And then realize that this idea has already been implemented by other companies in several ways.

Anyone who has tried knows it’s really hard to find the innovative idea that nobody has ever thought, it’s easier to design an evolution of other existing applications or even thinking about the fork of something already implemented to realize it in a differently better way.

I would like at this point to distinguish two types of good ideas for a startup:

  • take something existing and add innovative features
  • take something existing and rework in order to obtain a new, better and winning implementation.

In both cases we start from something existing as a starting point: it has no sense to “reinvent the wheel”; try to have innovative or unique ideas is really hard.

We should therefore focus on what already exists on the market and prepare small changes and innovations to make our application “unique” and valuable.

The next point to consider is certainly the answer to the question: “Good Idea or Good Business Idea?”.

A Good Idea can certainly does not create immediate benefit to the team that develops, but at the same time it should not be rejected beforehand: a good idea can give to the company visibility reputation and prestige.

Take for example two companies that have had some “good ideas”:

  • Thoughtbot: During their application development they have made available to the Ruby on Rails community a number of good plugins that have ensured visibility and reputation to the team. These plugins have also given them the image of competent and reliable company, probably increasing the number of customers for other applications.
  • Gravatar: Gravatar also proved to be a good idea for its developers. Completely free, certainly the application wasn’t able to gain immediate: the profit came later, when Automattic has bought the entire application.

Let’s look at a company that has instead had a good business idea:

  • Internaut Design has launched in recent months ScrumNinja, another tool to manage projects according to the SCRUM framework. This application is part of the second type of ideas where an existing model was revised to create a better product and more appealing than those offered by competitors (the competitors are however numerous and gain market will not be so simple anyway). In any case, users will pay to use this application, and that creates a “good business idea.”

Let’s return back to us of DevInterface and try to categorize our kind of idea:
the project on which we want to “invest” definitely belongs to the world of “good idea”: certainly will not give us an immediate profit, all depend on what will be appreciated and used by the final users.

We hope that this application is able to give us the visibility we need, and then maybe the profit that, at this stage of analysis, it is only a hypothesis.

Let say that this is not and will not be the only application in the pipeline.

In fact we are working on these days even a “good business idea that can be proposed DevInterface to a specific slice of the market and create a more immediate tangible benefit.

This second application will not be the subject of our discussion in these articles, since we believe is much more exciting for us and for you to talk about a startup “bet” that can bring us to success or that can only be another forgot application after the review on KillerStartups.

The team DevInterface