Someone Has Your Same Startup Idea? Move Fast, Launch First
Q: When you discover someone’s working on the same idea as yours and you are both still in the development stages, what should you do? Should you approach them and partner, or go it alone?
-- Janet Ngugi
A: This is a question that frequently arises when I’m talking to young entrepreneurs.
In general, the more talent you have on your team up front, the better -- particularly if everyone’s skills are complementary. It’s critical to understand your strengths and weaknesses and surround yourself with people who can excel where you need help.
Related: 3 Tips for Handling Startup Hiccups
Still, if you find out some other shop is working on a similar concept, my best recommendation is to move fast and launch first. Here are five tips to consider during this process:
1. Create a structure. Make sure your founding team has clear, distinct roles and duties. As you continue to build out your team, create a defined organization chart and break it out by individual skill sets.
2. Abandon the co-CEO theory. Place the right person in the top spot, and show a clear line of leadership. This way there will be no confusion over who’s calling the shots. It'll also give your startup flexibility, should you need to pivot on a dime.
3. Consider partnerships. If you score unique talent through an early-stage merger with another startup -- assuming it doesn't cloud your duties and roles -- go for it.
4. Craft a clear mission. Make sure your team is generally aligned on a single vision and single core metric, especially if you’re combining teams. Working toward a shared set of goals can do wonders for the growth of your business.
5. Move fast. Whether you know it or not, someone is likely copying your idea the moment you start. Move quickly to launch, and figure out the rest as you go.
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Mike Jones is CEO of Science, Inc., a Los Angeles-based technology studio that nurtures successful digital businesses by bringing together the best ideas, talent, resources and financing through a centralized platform. Jones, a long-time entrepreneur and former CEO of Myspace, has founded, advised, invested in and sold numerous businesses. He has personally invested in more than 30 startup businesses, including Klout, Betterworks, Formspring, ShoeDazzle and LunchMoney.