My Idea Was Copied!

An entrepreneur recently wrote to me saying that his idea has been copied by a larger company. I’ve heard this before. In fact, it is all too common. Ideas get copied all the time.

The problem lies in the fact that if you’ve been talking about launching something, and haven’t done it quickly, then someone will copy your idea.

Ever wonder why you’ve been talking about it so much but never got around to really launching it? I’d done some research on this a while ago to figure out what will it finally take for me to publish the book I’ve been talking about for so long.

Here’s what happened: I’ve been wanting to publish a crime fiction set in Bangalore for many years now. The idea came to me while I filled in for the crime reporter at The New Indian Express briefly. I’d talk about it to people and people would say wow, that’s such a great idea. Every time people said that, I got a false sense of gratification and put off writing the actual book. Meanwhile, folks like Anitha Nair and Zac O Yeah were hammering away on Cut Like a Wound and Mr Majestic.

Idea Steal

Me? I was happy telling people about the book I was writing. Of course when I read reviews and all the press these books got, I’d feel like this character or that was just like the one I had in mind.

How do you deal with it? Apparently, the trick is to deprive your mind of the false sense of gratification, until you have really written the book. Or in this case, launched your product. I’ve had greater success with long form pieces, stories and ideas when I haven’t talked about it that much. In short: talk less, do more.

Also, it’s not the idea mate!

The other thing is, the idea doesn’t matter a great deal in the world of entrepreneurship. Pretty much everyone knows the story of how Steve Jobs stole the idea of the GUI from Xerox. Jobs repeated a saying that is now legendary: “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” Let’s hear it from the man himself

I’ve heard from a few learned people around me that an entrepreneur should always run under the assumption that there are other people around the world working on the same idea that you’ve been working on at the same time. The most you have is six months! That is why it becomes important to launch, even if it it doesn’t look pretty or has a few loose ends.

There are examples closer home. Flipkart wasn’t the first to launch e-commerce in India. There were others before and after Flipkart. redBus wasn’t the only one to start a bus ticketing website at the time. The company had many competitors (still has).

What’s my take away from all this? Execution is a big deal!

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