Can you compete with big companies?

Romain Sourdiaux
27 replies
Hi everyone, What is the value in spending time/money/energy on a project/idea than can probably be copied by big players? Unless it can be patented, or unless it's too hard to copy, is it worth it?


Volodymyr Davydenko
If your company is small but you work with people who love what you do, you can move mountains. Even the biggest companies cannot compete with that šŸ’ŖšŸ»
Marcie Jones
Well, it depends. I like to pick a market that's too small for the big players to care about.
Gabriel Birnbaum
Have you ever worked at a big company? They are quite often, slow, dogmatic, risk-averse, and miopic. So it is possible to compete with them with a small team of talented people that want to reinvent the future.
Casey Golden
@gavri_birnbaum took me 9 months to get a $3,000 pilot approved at corporate. My personal expense account was 10k a month and couldn't charge the software on my card. Corporate has so much red tape and moving pieces.
Gabriel Birnbaum
@lux_lock perfect example. Even when a company gets to 100-200 people things start to move slower. I wonder if this is the case at the more modern big companies like Google or Spotify.
Pollen Technologies
Large companies are extremely slow moving and bureaucratic. Just to pass the idea along could take weeks to move up the chain scheduling meetings ect. nevermind getting to the point of creating a rip off. Often what they'll do is either A) try to buy you out at some point if they see you're gaining traction or B) be like Facebook and make a low quality rip off that doesn't end up working out anyway because its too late- see Lasso which is Facebooks copy of TikTok. Nobody likes a rip off and the best/first unique product to market will be able to get a foothold before anyone can rip it off. Ultimately, yes its worth it as long as you're focused on scaling up as (sustainably) quickly as possible
Mak Mo
This question can be answered by reading the book The innovator's dilemma.
Swayampravo Dasgupta
The big players will move big, hence slow. You're on a speedboat.
Misir Jafarov
Yahoo was a world-leading search engine when Google was just a startup. Yahoo did not agree to buy google for $1M. And Yahoo itself was sold to Verizon for $4.8B.
Omar Alles
Be the first, let them copy and try to move fast whether competition. Perhaps big dinasours move slower than you. It might be cheaper for big old dinasours to buy your project than start a new one from scratch :) Anyway, should anybody aspiration be a monopoly? are you sure you need to dominate the market? If there is market wouldnt be enough to have a small piece of it for you and your team? Nobody better than you to set the goals and consider the risks. Good luck from Spain.
Gustavo Martucci
In most cases it's not something to worry about. However if you know it's something a big company is already working on and you think they can do a better job than you, then I would avoid it or make sure I have a specific angle that will give me at least a niche. There are many examples of startups that disrupted incumbents while these were asleep, but there are also multiple examples of startups that were killed by a large company big launch or free product. One example I saw was a startup that was working on a super cool tool for Captcha and then Google announced free Captcha and killed them in months. In general, I think to myself: is this I'm doing something that I might do better than anyone else? And I'll go for it if the answer is yes, even if it's at the risk of getting competition from a large player.
Debajit Sarkar
Perhaps, the most important way your business can stand out from the larger companies is through great Customer Service. This is primarily because, customers appreciate and pursue relationships and experiences, not just end results.
Lewis Leighton
Iā€™d echo a lot of the previous comments with regard to the speed at which large companies move. Having worked for multiple large enterprises one thing that always jars with me is the amount of time it takes to get something out of the door. There are multiple reasons why; chain of command, bureaucracy, lack of resource (yup seriously this is a massive issue in large orgs), risk aversion, budgeting, brand dilution... just to name a few of the issues large companies come up against. As a small firm/startup you can have an idea, build it in a weekend and launch on the Monday. This is something much harder to do inside a large org for the same reasons as above. So in summary; yep you absolutely can compete.
Alexander Khayurov
you will never know it without trying, TRY!
Quan Tran
It definitely worth it. I am very happy seeing my idea or product being "re-made" to become better.
Magno Mendes Severino da Silva
I agree with most previous comments and I also would add that many large companies are too conservative, lack vision, have too many internal power struggles and are way too driven by appearence rather than substance. Finally, many lack the capacity to recruit, train and engage people towards innovation.
Morgan Young
Yes because if you can get it good enough, they will buy it. It makes me laugh when people are so paranoid about having their ideas stolen. An idea is worthless, it's the team behind it, the vision, the expertise, that makes it come to life. If it were that easy to steal ideas, then product hunt would be a race to the bottom. Focus on your idea and fulfilling your product vision, trust me, it's not going to get stolen by a big player... But if you're lucky, it might get bought.
Martin Delobbe
It can always be copied. However everything is a matter of time and ressources. If a big player want to copy what you did, he first has to know about you. Then the difference between a big player and you is the knowledge around the new product you've built. This cannot be copied unless someone of your team works for the big player.
Time and time again projects and small companies prove this statement to not be accurate. I'm not exactly sure why this is the case. I suspect it's that larger companies have more diluted culture, less motivation and less ability to do dramatic change, or perhaps they're just out of touch. But by the time they want to copy you, you've probably already got traction. You don't always need the resources of a big company to make something great. A lot of projects are just not interesting to them or directly competing against them. Even in a narrow space your way of doing things could be such a dramatic change that they cannot just copy you: it would confuse their users way too much. For example: Gmail cannot change their client to a version of Superhuman overnight, even though they can afford to build one. And even if they could, they don't want to charge $30/mo for email.
Sal Iozzia
Think of this in terms of the problem you are solving. Are there large companies trying to solve similar problems? in similar ways? Does this problem solution require a lot of time to understand to get right? Most big companies are big because at some point in the past they started addressing a problem correctly and then they scaled up to exploit the full market size of the opportunity. They are likely busy with the current opportunity that their solution exploits. The reason big companies dont do well against disruptive startups is that until the problem/solution is validated they often dont value it internally. and even when a startup gets enough traction to get on the radar of a big company, they have their budgets already locked in for the next year, so they have to convenience a myriad of stakeholders to carve out a small team to just begin the problem space exploration that you are already years into. So the question is, once you get on the radar of your potential big competitors, what advantages can you build into your business model that will make it hard for them to replicate quickly. All you can do here is buy yourself time with these advantages, but buying yourself time means possibly being a market leader or more attractive longer. These advantages may make you an attractive acquisition as well. But honestly nothing matters other than user adoption. If you have a lot of users, then your tech is good enough. If you dont have alot of user then does not matter how awesome your tech or product is, no competitor will care, and no one will try to buy you out. Just focus on learning about your customers problem faster and more completely and delivering solutions faster and more completely then anyone else. Don't fear investing in your idea over this. Just do it.
Andrew Jernigan
I believe so. Often a smaller company with new mindsets and perspectives can offer better service, unique solutions and a stronger product. It's exactly what we are working to do in a VERY well established market. The tough think we are facing as we gear up to launch is how to get the word out, how to get noticed when the 'big players' have SO much more money to put into marketing, ads and press. Eager to hear any input. Thanks, @jernigan Launching (available now in a soft-launch phase) a better, stonger travel medical insurance with added features.
Casey Golden
We are competing with a lot of really big companies but I know why a (niche market $1.2 tr: in their opinion) can't use any of their software. We spent 2 years building along side 100 customers to make sure we fit and replace 4-6 giants. It's worth it, if you're obsessed with the problem and want to help your customers. We have a patent but that's just a nice to have, it's not going to stop anyone. Just a lot of bills. You have to find a few sticking points that solve the problem and you you can execute faster than they can change. If you solve the problem and a great team to work with; why would they go back to the old vendor or switch to a giant?