An American startup that is 90% similar to mine just emerged this year, due to lack of funding in a third world country, I couldn't get to market earlier
Some important things you need to know first:
- I had a 4 year head-start
- I launched twice
- I have applied to a lot of accelerators, including Y-combinator which I applied thrice. I have also reached out to potential investors and prominent leaders in my project's industry to no avail
- I'm not claiming they stole my idea, this is not a complaint but an open discussion on what I could do next
- My location is part of the problem partially, just at the wrong place at the wrong time
- I'm uncomfortable revealing the industry I'm working in at the moment so I won't name the startups
I started working on a project 4 years ago and built an MVP for it, my years were spent looking for co-founders, a team, and most importantly, investors. I got non of them, it was either promises that went nowhere or no replies at all. As a single founder, I knew it would be hard to bring someone on board with the situation in our country, the idea excited them but not enough for them to put in the hard work or money.
You must be wondering, maybe it was a terrible idea? My spirit was broken multiple times but I knew it had value. You may also think I should've looked for the first users since I built it already. Well it isn't that easy, the project's particular industry requires a workforce behind it, think of it as Uber if it launched without on-boarding drivers or with no drivers at all.
I don't know how to say this without sounding like a pompous douchebag but I blame my country or people whichever way you put it for one reason, the lack of vision. The people I met almost always said the same thing, "We aren't ready for that", "This is complicated" etc.. I take part in the blame because I believe I didn't explain it well or sell it good enough. I noticed my shortcomings and worked on it. Years of iteration (for 1 user, me) currently gives me hope in beating this competition that doesn't even know I exist. I believe I have gained experience by studying the idea, doing surveys, iterating, and by launching twice, both times giving me promising metrics but not being able to sustain it due to the reasons I stated above, a team.
This year I just found a way to launch without any help, self-funded and community-driven, and then I see it, there it was on Product Hunt, by 2 founders. The feedback was amazing, for me I took them all personally without question, I was actually happy because this is something I really wanted to exist, and here it is, backed by investors and funded with 7 figures. This also validated my idea in a way and I couldn't be more happier for them.
If I had a lawyer, I know they would stop me from doing what I'd do next, but I still went with it. I emailed them to congratulate them and imply that I had something similar and would love to share my findings/research, they actually have a position open for a Lead who they'd love to have to bring in their ideas. I requested for a shot at that position too. It was in Silicon Valley so maybe this COVID situation would let me be considered for remote work too. That's what I told my self, that's what I did.
It's been over 3 weeks now and both founders haven't replied, I have mail tracking so just one of them opened my email.
I didn't disclose my findings or links nor did I tell them to lawyer up, I offered help and a consideration for a position which I believe I could do good in. I explained in the email that I understand there might be legal issues but I'm happy to cooperate.
Some questions you might ask:
- Is the idea behind the product that common?
No, almost everyone in the industry misses it, I don't think it's worthless either, just that the current model is working well and I believe it shouldn't be that way. I'm a strong believer at this as a user, the other startup's vision is also the same, they believe there is a standard to set and they did it.
- Why don't you just launch this last version?
That's why I'm here, I'm afraid am being delusional and just need a few voices of reasoning
- Is there a patent on it
Mine? no. Theirs? I don't think there is, I searched for it on U.S patent databases and I don't think it's could be deemed as intellectual property in the first place, I could be ignorant about this I really haven't sought legal counselling
Please do ask questions, I'd love to answer.
TLDR: My startup failed after 2 launches and another one with resources and workforce that I don't have just launched right before I wanted to launch a third, final time
Edit: The other startup is behind a paywall and only limited to the iPhone, mine is free to the users and has a model similar to reddit gold where the content is free but you could still support it. It is also available across all platforms
submitted by nocturnalbreadwinner