Any founder worth their salt — who has grown their company to any significant scale and experienced any semblance of success — will tell you that one of the leading indicators that their startup has got any chance of success was the day they realized they had copycats.
Welcome them like a sibling replicating your style. They might resemble you but they will never be you.
Enjoy the flattery then continue revolutionizing. Copying a product is the biggest compliment another founder can give you. It’s a veiled confession of superiority which acknowledges their own inability to innovate.
The platitude that everything is in the implementation has never been more true.
But there is a key element of that which people never realize of misunderstanding: as critical to the development of any product is the learning that went into its development. The failures you overcame, the reasons for the specific choices that were made that led to the product or service you offer today.
It’s the equivalent of getting marks for your working in a Mathematics examinations.
While you have the working and the answer, the startup ripping your idea off only has the answer and understands nothing about the question or the struggle to get there.
Where you have iteratively developed your startup over time, internalising the lessons of what has worked and what hasn’t, NewCo hasn’t and will often be sentenced to explore and repeat the same mistakes you did. During this process they are unlikely to persist as their passion is misplaced.
You must relentlessly stick to your mission and not be distracted.
Even if you both start out from the same place, the likelihood of you reaching the same end point or progressing in the same direction is unlikely.
But make no mistake about it, competition is an existential threat.
Competition is war, but it provides validity to your argument. Competitors bring validation of ideas and increase focus on unloved spaces.
When you have those replicating your efforts you know what you are producing is resonating with…