Doing your Goo-diligence

I now live by the rule of “Goo-diligence.” Whenever have a new idea or am asked for feedback on someone else’s, I won’t move forward without a quick search on Google. I hate to say it, but many of my “great ideas” have stopped before they ever started because of things I’ve found in less than five minutes. On the other hand, this research period has also helped me refine my ideas so they become even greater.
So as you start Googling (or using whatever search engine you prefer), here are five questions you might ask yourself. And, please, try to be honest about the answers:
1. Is there really a need for my solution? This question requires brutal honesty. It’s the easiest question on the list to justify. Start by Googling related terms and see if people are talking about the subject. Find out if there is a market of people that would be willing to pay for your solution.
2. Does my solution already exist? Assuming there is a market, how are people currently solving the problem? I’ve learned to love analyzing competition, because it has sparked some of our greatest ideas.
3. Is my solution disruptive? If the market exists and there are other solutions out there (which is typically the case if you have a large market), you may still have a business if your idea is disruptive. There are great books written about disruption, but to summarize, you can be disruptive by introducing a similar product at a much lower cost OR by offering a much better solution that saves time, effort, etc. (Try reading The Innovator’s Solution by Clayton Christensen if you’re looking for more info on this.)
4. Is the name I’ve chosen available? As mentioned above, this one got me personally. Make sure you search several different versions of the spelling, check URLs, and consider any pre-designated connotations that may be associated with the name your choosing.
5. What other solutions would I use? This is a close relative to #2 but can’t be emphasized enough. Force yourself to see what else is out there and don’t jump into the ring without knowing who you are up against
Jon Parrish in an article on VentureBeat.

There are hundreds of OSS and related tools on the market already. There are also hundreds of individual product niches awaiting the existing tools and any new ones you might be considering. This is why the market is so fragmented currently.

As described in “Jumping into the Explosion,” there are huge changes underway in the technology space that will impact, and be impacted by, future OSS. This could serve as the catalyst for consolidation of the market if a world-beating, serves-everyone product appears. Or it could serve to increase the amount of fragmentation to meet additional customer needs.

I feel that the latter is more likely, but there’s actually an approach for consolidating the innovation / fragmentation, but we’ll take a closer look at that tomorrow.

But back to today’s topic. If you do have a great idea that you’d like to see others make use of, do you do your Goo-diligence to see whether other products (or code snippets, or open-source projects) already meet those needs? Jon Parrish’s five questions are a useful starting point when evaluating the uniqueness of your innovation.

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