It is OK to copy an existing idea

This causes some people indigestion, or they have a “moral problem” with it, but copying an existing idea is a long-standing tradition. The advantage is that you KNOW the idea works – it is already out there making sales. All you do is copy it, add some slight variations, and try to capture some of the market. Examples include:

  • Cialis – it copied Viagra with minor variations in the active molecule
  • Every pizza idea – Pizza hut, Dominos, Papa John’s, Cici’s, etc. all sell pizza – dough + sauce + cheese + toppings – with minor variations
  • Carbonite clones – Carbonite invented the idea, and then a dozen clones moved in with minor variations
  • Most big box stores – Walmart and Target are nearly identical. Home Depot and Lowe’s are nearly identical. Publix and Kroger and Food Lion and Harris Teeter and… are all nearly identical. And so on.

See, even Viagra got copied. It is a long-standing tradition! Cialis is a different molecule that another drug company (Lilly in this case) discovered to get around Pfizer’s patent, allowing Cialis to compete against Viagra.

Pizza is popular. Everyone knows that. So come up with a new variation on the pizza idea. Look at all the different pizza restaurants out there. Go to the grocery store and look at all of the brands of frozen pizza. There is definitely room for one more.

Walmart’s clone is Target. Home Depot’s clone is Lowe’s. Domino’s clone is Papa Johns. CVS’s clone is Walgreen’s (or maybe vice versa?). How many major supermarkets are there in your area? They are all essentially identical.

Clone away! Copying an existing idea is a long-standing tradition, as long as you can get around any patents.

Alternate possibility – Find an idea that exists, but is messed up, and make it better/easier/faster

Find an idea that exists, but is messed up, and make it better/easier/faster. A great example right now is Flexport. If you have a shipping conainer in China and you want to get it to your location in the U.S., the traditional system of phone calls and faxes is a total pain in the ass. Flexport has streamlined the whole thing and is growing like a weed. Uber is another example – it streamlined the “hail a cab” problem and made it a lot better.

Alternate possibility – If someone else has proven an area of demand, think of other ways to take advantage of the demand

There is an event that will go down forever in history as a complete disaster – The Fyre Music Festival in the Bahamas. This article describes just how bad it got:

$12,000 luxury island festival descends into chaos after fans complain of “refugee camp” conditions

There is no question that this particular event was a disaster, but look what it proved: That there is demand, at a very high price point, for certains kinds of events. Also: The Fyre festival was able to get a lot of media coverage ahead of time, meaning it was a resonant idea.

Now that the demand is proven, your job as an entrepreneur is to figure out what you can do to take advantage of the demand in new and different ways.