The first big thing I need to do to make my Next Big Thing happen is to research what already exists. I know my product idea is useful and who would pay for it. What I don't know yet is anything about the market itself:

  • Who are the players and decision makers?
  • How receptive would they be to my idea?
  • What barriers, technical or otherwise might be in the way?
  • Are they already using a competing product, and if so, can I improve on it?

I'm hoping I'll get answers to those kinds of questions soon. But while I wait for a face-to-face, there are other questions I need to answer:

  • What already exists in this space?
  • Do they do exactly what I do, or a variation?
  • Is their product bespoke (ie: does each of my potential clients have to build their product separately)?

I find the competitor research to be the ickiest part of the product development cycle, as I so often find I've got a great idea and then discover it's been done already. I tend to skim through articles in fear of finding the clinching proof that someone's already doing it as well, if not better than I could. But that almost never happens. Not because I'm awesome and my stuff will be the best by default, but because I came across the idea independently, and so am more likely to be attacking the problem at a different angle.

I'm lucky in that the gap in the market I'm trying to fill is very visible. It gives good Google results, but nothing (yet) that's made me give up and look for the next Next Big Thing 🙂

While I gather my results, Evernote is my friend. I use Evernote sporadically, but the web clipping extension for Safari works well, so I can easily gather articles either to read later, or to prove to others the existence and size of the market, and demonstrate the itch that my product will scratch.

More to come once I've had some face-to-face chats.