I had an idea that I presented at the Startup weekend two years ago. And now I see couple of companies already working on it. What should I do?

The two companies that are working on the idea are implementing it in two different cities. and .. I also have a decent prototype ready. Should I try to reach out to them and try to join them or continue working on my own and bring it to the market. I love the idea, we are a team of engineers who are excited about it but now we are confused.


If you have no team or your team is lacking what they have it could be a great reason to reach out to them. On the other hand, if you have or can build the right team there is little to gain from partnering with starups like this. Remember that it takes a team to build a successful business and they are not the first or second to try this.

My caution would be to make sure you have someone with food safety/regulation experience on your team. This business model has safety concerns which must be addressed to make it viable. Having started, worked with and consulted for food startups, as large as $1B, I can assure you there is a significant public health risk associated with this business model.

Sorry to be the voice of reason here, but it is better to hear it from me than someone who is suing you due to a case of food poisoning or worse. As the purveyor of food - or even if acting as a conduit - you have an obligation to consider the public's health and safety. There is an assumption that the product will be safe, just as you assume your Uber will not be a 1971 Ford Pinto with bald tires and an unlicensed driver. Disrupting an industry by challenging the regulations is a great way to go, think Uber or airbnb. Even with the disruption you must still be able to service the customers in a safe way. The FDA states that there are "about 48 million cases of foodborne illness annually...these illnesses result in an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths." Food industry regulations, both local and federal, have evolved as a necessity.

If you would like to talk through options which begin to address the safety concerns I would be more than happy to talk with you.

Answered 9 years ago

It really depends. Does any company have a firm grip on the niche? Or are they new/upstarts without a foothold?

If you're in a market without your solution, you may be able to target just your city with great results (for example, Portland has a few PDX-specific apps and rewards programs that do pretty well).

If your competition is already in your market, but you're filling one of their gaps, they may be interested in acquiring your idea — just make sure it's less work to acquire you than build their own version of the feature.

Even if you have direct competition, though, if you really believe in your idea you should just go for it. Foursquare and Yelp both have audiences. PayPal and Square and Stripe all have their own user bases. There's a lot of room in the world for great products.

Answered 9 years ago

Quickly answer this question...did you start working on your idea to build a business or create something to sell right away? The answer should tell you where your passion is. Passion is what gets you through the rough spots (as corny as that sounds).

No matter what the answer is, the next step is to study these competing services to figure out what your compelling point of difference is. Improve your product based on what you find. If you choose to try to work jointly, you'll be on favorable terms coming into the discussion. If not, you'll have something that works better than the competition.

Answered 9 years ago

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