My startup idea is already being done and being done for free. How can I compete with free?


I'll be honest, I'm not interested in offering a free service. I plan on offering a valuable service thats trusted and easy to use. After wondering about my idea that I've been building for the past month, I found there are not a couple but multiple companies small and large doing my idea. They have even implemented features I had not thought of and have an established customers in the millions, all doing it for free. The other company due to some odd occurrences has dominated the whole states to the point of it being recommended as the software to use for the state. How in the world am I supposed to compete against free and having total domination in the market? Most of the ideal customers don't have an experience with computers let alone choosing a different software

Ideas Competition Startups

asked Jan 14 '15 at 19:27
21 points
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  • I really like this question. I think it's a perfect fit for this site: on topic, applies to a large swath of startups, it can be answered with practical things you can do without writing a novel, and addresses a legitimate concern. I hope more people give this upvotes. I think it deserves it. – rbwhitaker 9 years ago
  • You can offer personalized service, or compete with better marketing. Wordpress is free, but people charge to maintain and support Wordpress blogs. Bittorrent is free, but Hollywood has better marketing to get you to come to the theater. – Starrychloe S. 9 years ago

1 Answer


Next time, research your competitors before doing the technical work.

That being said, all is not lost. There are ways to carve a niche for yourself. The most obvious one is having a great, easy to use, supported product. Companies that give away their product can't afford to support their customers well (if at all). As you already noticed, many people are not very computer-savvy. They'll go with the product (yours) that offers great support.

If that doesn't work, think of whereelse your competitors are weak. Do they have online forums where their customers complain about missing features or how difficult certain tasks are?

One final piece of advice: many founders are devastated to hear that they have competitors. But competitors are good: it means there is demand. If you ever have an idea for a product and absolutely no one is doing it, run away! The likelihood that you are this amazing genius and 6B people didn't think of it before you is about 0.

answered Jan 15 '15 at 02:39
Alain Raynaud
10,927 points

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Ideas Competition Startups