Every good Idea is already taken, Should I stop building new things or coming up with Ideas ?

Divyanshu Negi

🚀🚀🚀🚀 9 min read

Whenever I come up with an idea, I usually start with a google search, and to my surprise, after 15 minutes of search, I can see the other players who are either huge companies or some who recently got funded by VCs.

This demotivates me. Should I stop coming up with ideas? Is everything that can be built is already built, and we do not need anything new?

In this post, I will share my personal experiences with building Products, failing at them, learning from them and building a framework to maximise success.

While building small projects, I have found 4 ways to build products.

1. Product First Approach (PFA)

In this approach, Start with any Idea and build an excellent product, spend a tremendous amount of time and resources perfecting the product, and launch it in months or years, wait for the customers to come, and when you cannot sell it to anyone, get depressed and quit.

This is the most brutal way to build a product, and to my surprise, this is the most famous way companies, or Indies make products. I did too.

One example of this approach by a big company is when apple released an app store. Some big TV companies also invested heavily and launched a TV app store. As dumb as it might sound now, back then, it was marketed heavily when selling TV. It failed badly as no one wanted a TV because it has an app store, So a product (App store) was built without checking its need in the market, and it is not filling any gap in the market. They tried to copy the success of the app store on iOS.

My Personal experiences with this approach

  • Back in 2014, I started building a mobile game. I quit my good-paying freelance gigs, saved money and planned to make an Android game. I put all my time 10-15 hours daily designing the game, researching Android 2D gaming frameworks, learning Unity (failing at it), and continuing with a broken Android 2D game engine. 

After spending three months quietly building the game, I launched it on the play store. 10 Users downloaded the app on Day 1. 9 of those were my family and friends, and one anonymous Angel gave a 3-star rating because there are only four levels in the game.


LINK TO THE BLOG : https://bit.ly/3x7xgfj

here is the blog I started to log my game dev journey as I prepared to fly high into the gaming world.

The first 3 weeks were so bad. No feedback. I tried adding more levels, as I thought that was the problem, tried fixing 2 crashes for weeks which happened only on my device and added analytics and Admob ads (as if that's gonna grow the revenue). 

I finally gave up and killed the project, and the play store also removed it after some notice regarding some updates I had never made for months.

  • Again, in 2015, I started with this approach. I thought of a mobile gaming app which rewards user Karma points. Karma points can redeem to actual cash values like Mobile recharges for Indian users.

The idea was to connect 2 users online in an app, and they play games like Maths Puzzle, GK, Analytics and whoever wins gets the karma points. I spent 3-4 months building this app alone. The complete backend was a nightmare for me to manage. I used MySQL, Node, PHP, Android, and JAVA, and learned a lot about real-time socket connections. When I launched the app, it got decent traction as I was promoting it as a reward app, where user gets paid to play games, so I kinda nailed the GTM, but as I was out of money and the churn was huge, users were costing high because the economy of the system was not in place, I was paying more to the users than earning from ads and affiliates, I was getting bad reviews daily mostly because of payment issues, After such a huge churn, I understood that the product is not something users are interested in, they want quick bucks, and if that part of the app is removed I technically do not have any product.

I had to call it to quit, and I Learned that economy should be in place when entering a market with rewards; also, my core was in software, and I was managing this payment module as well, which was not scalable and cannot automate that easily back in 2015.

2. User First Approach (UFA)

Building products based on user feedback is one of the best approaches I have learned and understood. A lot of companies use this approach.

You start by Identifying a problem in the market. You can take any market segment. For example, take a Resume as a problem. Freshers coming out of college might need resumes, professional resumes. They want to add relevant skills that are in demand in the market and look professional, want a PDF and easy update with new skills. Back in college, we used to create this in Microsoft word, which looked ugly. 

Then look for existing solutions, check the review on platforms about those services, and check the cons people mention about them. They might be pricy, too technical, or might be bad UX. These could be potential updates you can provide in your solution.

Launch and market to this user base. Get 10 users who would use your service (it could be free initially)

Most startups go with this approach. Even YC, the top startup accelerator, preaches this approach.

Get quick feedback on everything, landing page, colour, theme, UX, price, process, and onboarding. Keep updating while getting more users and more feedback.

The feedback loop keeps you engaged and rewarded. You do not build everything all at once.

The major con of this approach is marketing such a product, getting those Initial users. The Marketting Problem!

Also, the research time to find such a product and a solution can take a long time, and even after weeks of research, you might have to kill the idea and find another segment. 

Personally, I do not like this approach, as I tend to love the building process. 

Also, when researching, you could have a cognitive bias where you change the input of research to favour your output. You Need to be very careful and objective when jumping onto this approach.

The line between UFA and PFA is fragile, so it gets confusing.

3. Audience First Approach AFA

If you have experience building a community or already have an audience base on Discord, Email Newsletter, Twitter, Facebook page, Insta Page, etc., this strategy is the best.

Having already an audience will allow you to have a customer base from day 1. With such a community, you can understand the problems they might have and build and share the product journey from day 1, and get early feedback. Many "build in public" builders follow this approach.

This approach gives a lot of room for experimentation, as you keep throwing ideas and products, and already a user base is ready to share quick feedback.

Example: If you run a Facebook page with health and Fitness, you can build a mobile app where users can share workout meals and recipes. It is super easy to market with such a group and get Ideas. I worked on an app called Antar Chat with your inner personas, Reflection.

Play store link: https://bit.ly/3D9OKLQ

I met the founder of this app via Twitter, and we collaborated to build this mental model building app. The founder manages a Discord group around the mental health category, and from day 1 we started getting feedback and suggestion on how to improve the app and which features they would want to use. This project was not for revenue but as a free service, so I collaborated on my weekends, had so much fun, and even we got a top designer to work on some of the designs.

This approach has a lot of pros, but 1 of the con of this process is that it takes a long time to build such a community. Finding and managing an audience of any magnitude is a challenge in itself, but once invested long enough, the fruits are easy to reap.

4. Brute Force Approach (BFA)

My favourite, In this process, you don't care about anything except building things. Here you keep building products and keep creating multiple products, keep sharing with users, and see what works and what does not.

This approach is more like throwing punches in the dark and seeing if, out of 10, any one of those landed.

This approach works very well for builders who love to build. It requires very minimal research of the market and very minimal marketing as well. As per my personal experience, while I was working as a Sr Android developer for a company, at my weekends, I started building mini apps on the play store (By mini, I mean tiny apps, which take a couple of hours to develop and publish)

For example, I created 5-10 Android lock screens for fun on weekends. One of the lock screens acts like you are spiderman, and to open your lock screen, you flick your hand like you are throwing a spider web, and the lock screen shows an animation of a web and drag your lock screen down (still proud of the Idea and execution).

The launch of this lock screen got good traction on the play store from Initial users. Later I published 10-15 different variations of similar Ideas, 1 of the screenshot I can find now is this : 

This was built in 2 hours, the keychain dangles with device motions, and also, when you swipe from the top, it animates as you are opening a zip of your lock screen (this was possible in the golden days of Android customisation, I don't think now Android provides these APIs).

This small set of 10-15 Apps generated so much revenue for me, which none of my products has ever generated to date.

  • I never did any user research
  • I never did any major marketing (minimal ASO on play store)
  • I did not spend months building this

Many bootstrappers take this approach. One of the famous @levelsio (Founder of Nomadlist) followed and made a trend to launch 1 product each month for a year, and made successful products within a year.

Many have followed the same path and got success,  Pros of this approach:

  • If you are a builder, it satisfies your building nature of yours and working on multiple projects
  • You do not need to be good at market research not require any excellent market research (most of the builders try to fix their own problems and then find people similar to them)
  • You do not need to spend much on marketing as you can get the most success due to word of mouth or virality. (build in public groups, PH, Indiehacker, etc.)
  • You do not spend perfecting the product; rather release it and get quick feedback to move on with another project.


  • This approach does not guarantee success, as you could build 20 projects, and all of them can fail, but that is the case with other approaches.
  • This is a taxing process and would not work for someone who is not a builder
  • Companies cannot afford this approach, and not a viable option when dealing with VCs.
  • As a solo builder, you have to do a lot more than just building.

Coming to the main topic, once we decide on which Idea to work on, most of the time, all the Ideas are already built.

One thing I learned the hard way is that building a product and building a profitable business are 2 very different things.

If you aim to be the next Steve Jobs or Elon Musk to revolutionise the world with innovation with your product, that is a completely different domain and skill set. Where a lot of factors come into play like resources, information, luck, connections, etc.,

On the other hand, building a profitable business is slightly easy, and with the correct framework, you can have chances of higher success.

The product is often the least important when evaluating a business model. the important core stuff

  • Niche Market
  • Distribution Channel
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Sales Strategy

In the case of a business model, if you google your Idea and can see 4-5 competitors, that's a good thing. That shows the Idea has value and is already an existing market. We can check the competitors, reverse engineer the strategy and fill the gaps they have left open.

Or we can use an entirely new market to target the same solution. An excellent example of this is, as devs, that we all know what Trello is. It helps you efficiently manage tasks with intuitive and easy Kanban-style task management. If today I start my Idea and marketing something similar to Trello to devs, I would never succeed with that user base, no matter what I add as a feature.

But I know a company which used the same Trello style app (replica with only colour change) and marketed to the Hotel industry, as Hotels need a checklist to complete specific redundant tasks. Currently, the hotel is using Pen and paper. They showed the solution as a mobile app and onboarded some of the top Hotels across the globe.

They focussed on the business model and got great success.

To be very frank, when we are building anything as software only follow the money, quoting from another author.

If you "do what you love", you'll end up building stuff that doesn't sell.

If you follow the money, you're forced to ask important questions like:

1. What does the customer want to pay for?
2. Who is the customer
3. How do I get the customer's attention
4. How do I persuade the customer to give me their money

That's it. I just wanted to pen down my thoughts on this frustration I had long back, the delusion of creating a product and users will come knocking on the door. But with time learned the valuable lessons.



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    Divyanshu Negi is a VP of Engineering at Zaapi Pte.