I was on a call yesterday with a potential client and we were discussing his product. What he has done is to take a number of off the shelf products and integrate them into something really innovative and wonderful. At one point he expressed to me a bit of trepidation with respect to that. In theory, anyone could take those same components and build something similar, although it certainly would take them some time. In a word, he was concerned about defensibility.
I told him that I was less concerned than he was about it. I likened him to a great chef. The magic is partially in the great ingredients for sure, but the real magic happens in how those ingredients are combined. His goal in building his dish isn’t to make something that is defensible but rather something that delights his customers, is really unique, and that can continue to evolve over time based on feedback.
Instead of focusing on patents to make something defensible, my feeling is that time and money are better spent on drilling down on why a customer will want to choose your product and only your product as a solution to their problem. Remember that the first question you need to ask is “what problem am I solving?” If you are unclear about that, no patent will protect you from failure.
How defensible is Facebook? It really wouldn’t be very hard to do what they’re doing, or at least it wouldn’t have been 10 years ago. Their biggest defense now is simply scale. We join social networks because our friends are there, and migrating everyone we care about to another platform when the one we’re on satisfies our needs is difficult. The newer platforms such as Periscope and Snapchat are solving a different problem which is why they are scaling too.
Many people do what I do. There are tons of consultants and even more bloggers. I like to think that what my clients and my readers get from me can’t be duplicated since my life experience, intelligence, and creativity are mine alone. I’m sure each of them feel the same way about themselves. My blog and my business are defensible because I use those raw materials to solve problems in a unique way. Do you?