Question :
We currently have a startup idea and started working on validation. Upon researching competitors I found an already established company that does almost exactly what we do. The only thing I can think of that makes our idea unique is that we’re based in NZ so we desperately need advice on what we should do with our idea. How can we go about finding a unique value proposition so we have better standing against competitors? We are still in the very early stages so this is quite discouraging but we don’t want to give up yet. 

Question submitted 02/09/20 @ 05:40am
Industry: Start-ups
  • Up

    Morena Michelle. This can be evidence that many of us in the world are thinking about the same thing often at the same time, same ideas – because we are all going through life and observing issues or opportunities – so this is normal unfortunately, that people on different parts of the world observe the same thing, and then sometimes these same people act on it and do something about it. Think about Facebook, Uber and many other things – there was not one ‘group’ doing this – but multiple groups.

    What matters is not that there are similar concepts out there, it is who really meets the ‘demand’ in the market the best and who creates clear air from their competitors because they can successfully build a business – see value in a concept is created when that concept is like, demand and utlised by users to solve a problem they have. So my question would be, to what extent have you engaged with users in your target market, to test the concept, and it maybe that after feedback you morph the product to something slightly different to what your starting point hypothesis was, then you might end up being different?

    It is so hard starting a business, because we all put so much emotion into these ideas and concepts – and also it is so challenging when you then throw this idea out for feedback to your market – however, that is the key, you want to identify who in the market are your initial core group of users and customers who have a real problem that your product concept can solve – this group of people become the raving fans in the market, they tell other people, they create virality, and they help you shape and structure your product roadmap over time – which means where you start and what you start with, may end up being quite different over time as users engage with you and your concept evolves.

    So I would say – engage with your target market, target users – understand truly what their pain or problem is or not – if you find new insight, new evidence that there is really a real problem in these users, then you can work out whether you can adjust your concept to solve that – and then you start on the journey with a slightly different concept.

    A few links – I truly love Y-Combinator for its resources for anyone starting up – https://www.ycombinator.com/library/61-order-of-operations-for-starting-a-startup and https://www.ycombinator.com/library. Also Dr Rob Adams wrote a book called If you Build it, Will They Come which is a great book on validating your market.

    Good luck. Andy



    This is a very common situation. However you should try to answer few things

    where is this potential competitor based ? If in New Zealand then you will face stiff competition. But if he is outside then you still can have a look at it.

    What is the overall market size of the product or idea ? Bigger the market size , better for the situation since it can absorb the competition ?

    If the market size is not big then re look at the idea first think of the value proposition and see if there is a differentiation which can be created

    Investors will look at this as potential threat because already an existing player is available and this will make the funding difficult.

    If the idea is still in conceptual level then you can think of other opportunities as well.


    Hi Michelle, I know this can be disheartening, especially at this early stage, this has happened to me a number of times. First, thing is don’t give up, figure out your unique USP. I have worked with a number of Manuka honey companies. On an overseas trip, we went to the NZTE office in Shanghai and the trade commissioner said “Welcome, you are the 179th Manuka honey company to visit us, what is different about you?” Ouch. We went away with our tail between our legs but took this as a real opportunity to find that point of difference. Despite this setback, we built a very successful brand and business. It just took more than putting a pretty label on a jar and really working at what made us different. Competition is validation. You just need to find a way to do it better.


    Thank you all for the very helpful and detailed responses. This is giving us some much needed positivity and determination to carry on. It allowed us to see our situation from a different angle. I think we’re now better equipped to conduct further market research and develop some unique value propositions that can make our product better. Cheers 🙂

  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.