Be Better, Not New

Be Better not New

I hear a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs say “if only I had an idea.”

They spend weeks and months digging through various industries looking for a problem that no one else has solved yet, hoping to be the first and steal the show.

The idea is you can’t have a business if someone else has already done it. The competition can’t be beat.

I think that’s just plain wrong. Instead of being “new,” what about just being “better”?

Drifty was not “new” at anything. Every one of our products is an improvement on older ones. Instead, we strive to be better than what came before.

People constantly compare our second product Jetstrap with tools like Dreamweaver or FrontPage. They say we are the evolution of these tools. We love when they say that.

The nice thing about trying to be better instead of new is the market has already validated itself. They use products that can be improved on. They spend money and are familiar with how the products work and what they can and currently can’t do.

Being better means having something concrete to compare yourself to. Instead of Jetstrap making crappy HTML like Dreamweaver or FrontPage, we export really clean code that is what a pro would write by hand.

Instead of having every little feature under the sun we just have a few, and we make it super easy to jump in, get your work done, and get back to living your life. “Better” becomes its own brand of “new.”

The beautiful thing is what is “better” for one person might not be better for another. That means a market that was previously monolithic might really have segments that can be isolated.

This makes it easy to start small and grow big. Target one segment of a market you think you can improve on, and build something simple for them.

Drifty started small. Our products focused primarily on front-end web and mobile development. As we understand more about what our customers need, we are starting to expand beyond that. But only now that we have validation, revenue, and a team to do it.

So next time you are looking for a startup idea, why not try to improve on something you think sucks? Chances are someone else thinks it sucks, too.

  • JjanMarian

    I don’t agree. What’s the purpose of reinventing the wheel? If there is an existing product which does its job, it’s better to find your own innovative niche than to copy them.

    • yesimahuman

      I think that’s great if you can see something that is missing and you are excited about creating a solution for it.

      The point was more that you don’t always have to create something completely unique when you start. In fact it can be incredibly hard to come up with that one idea, and it’s not always better than improving something that already exists.

      Even facebook wasn’t new in the since that we already had services like Myspace to communicate with our friends outside of email. What was new about facebook was that it was better than what we were using, and not just from a UX standpoint. Better can just mean the users spent more time on it and incorporated it into their life in a more intense way.

      Doing something better doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel. If you look at problems as either solved or unsolved, then you are missing the nuance inherent in all problems. Sometimes a solution to a problem helps one person but fails to solve it for another.

  • Adam Perkins

    Thanks for sharing. I agree and disagree.

    I agree because taking the ‘better’ angle is a viable way to differentiate and you must differentiate to make a business successful. If you choose to simply compete without a differentiator you are asking for a war instead of a decisive (and no war is easy, and your differentiator may be inconsistent with the market needs) victory.

    Without an understanding of what you are trying to do, without that domain expertise, the changes you make (to be better) and the insights you have are often wrong. Yes you will learn as you go but having a great foundation is important when starting anything. I believe you need to understand your customers as they exist today in order to innovate for them tomorrow.

    I disagree as well because better isn’t always the answer. The most skilled people do not end up on top. The best products don’t always win. I think businesses need to find enough of a way to provide value and stand apart from competition if they want to win. Software and startups are exploding in numbers…clutter is increasing. How much better is enough or is a new direction required?

    I can relate to searching for a problem to work on. My search is more about finding a partner who can shed light on the industry as opposed to finding a problem of which I might not know anything about.

    Good article and definitely got me thinking about new problems to solve by using better as a way to win.

    • yesimahuman

      I do think “better” in this sense is not just product, but marketing and all the other soft sides of business. A better technical solution means nothing without a great vessel in which to deliver it. Often times a better solution for someone is actually less technically complicated.

      Just like anybody, I love new solutions that change what we thought was possible. I just think “better” is a very accessible way to start building a real business. I want more people to get past that “idea” hump.