It’s interesting to see how the same idea can have different outcomes when different people try their take on it. Take Quora.com for example, which seems to be on an impressive ride to the top in terms of popularity. The concept of posting a question and letting others answer it by no means new. In fact, it is exactly what Yahoo Answers did (and failed). The same can be said about Facebook sharing the same core idea as MySpace, or stackoverflow being just another forum-like site. Innovation in the sense of true product or service creation did not happen in the case of these sites. They did not break new grounds with innovative products like eBay or Amazon did back in the days of internet inception. At its core, one could even say the sites mentioned were mere clones of the already existing ones, and it’s very likely what the big players thought about them when they first launched.
So if the idea itself is not what made them stand out, what is? Better funding? Better leaders? I believe they stood out because of one crucial factor: execution.
It seems to me like there’s a wave of innovation not so much in the idea world but in the execution part of the idea. Sites like Groupon. and LetMeGo are just a couple of more examples that come to mind of services trying to solve decade old problems. The difference is that, instead of creating a clone with useless “extra features”, they focused on one single twist to the de facto model and were able to stand out with a true innovative approach.
Facebook did this by focusing on targeted, highly exclusive user demographics. Quora is doing it by focusing on expert answers by expert people. The site itself is designed in such a way as to leave the average Joe out from answering questions in a stupid, non-helpful way (e.g. Yahoo Answers). You should also check out LetMeGo.com if you’re interested in yet another example.
These are just a few examples of how execution is just as important as the idea itself, if not more.
So what other online business models have stagnated over the years and are in desperate need of an innovate twist to come along?