Innovators Advantage


Is it just me, or does anyone else in b-school really hate talking about sustainable competitive advantage?

In a startup context, sustainable competitive advantage is impossible. Some argue that patents, contracts, or team could give you the upper hand on the competition. But patents become public and can be innovated around (not to mention the patent system is broken), advantageous contracts are next to impossible to get for startups, and who’s to say your dream team is any match for the giants that could easily enter your industry.

What about trade secrets, don’t they give you an advantage? Yeah, if your secret is valuable, but you’ll have to prove its value through time, and time is not something startups can spare.

What about economies of scale or economies of scope? We all hope for those advantages in the future, but its hard to claim them in a company’s infancy.

And yet, b-school continues to ask us about advantages. I had a group meeting today to discuss the subject about a local startup we’re dilligencing (new word). The startup competes with some giants for a market that is still probably 3 years into the future. Needless to say, the discussion was anything but cut and dry. In the end, we played make believe and came up with a couple “competitive advantages” that we’ll argue in class on Monday, but the conversation didn’t happen without much internal conflict on my part.

I’m actually proud, however, of one of the advantages I came up with. It is that a startup is going to have an easier time innovating than its giant competitors.

Am I wrong to say that big companies don’t innovate? I thought that was common knowledge. Innovation is extremely hard for big companies, and for everyone that manages to do it (Apple, GM, Google), there are 1,000 that don’t. After all, there wouldn’t be an “innovators dillema” if innovation wasn’t an advantage.

For startups in particular, I think instead of talking about competitive advantage, we should talk about innovative advantage, and instead of listing our advantages, we should outline a strategy to stay two steps ahead of our opponents. Sure, our next moves may be outdated tomorrow, but at least we’re always thinking ahead.

And back to competitive advantage, to make the topic less painful in the future, I’m going to frame it based on how industry or market is today and ignore the millions of hypothetical events that could be in the future. In other words, if the startup is doing something that none of its competitors are doing, that is a competitive advantage.

Sure, a big company could try to copy everything a startup is doing, but as an entrepreneur, you don’t live your life every day worrying about the bad things that can happen, you just move forward and innovate.

About The Author

Ben currently works as a senior developer and technical business consultant outside of Boulder, Colorado.

Read more about Ben

About Buink

Buink Web Development is a development shop founded in 2009 by Ben Buie. For years, Ben built and modified web assets for clients in Utah. In 2011, he moved the company to Colorado and in 2015 he started taking on new clients full-time.

Buink’s Core Values:

  • Cost effective technology (with business strategy in mind)
  • Eloquent, maintainable code
  • Responsive and transparent communication

Read more about Buink

Dru M.
Dru M.
15:41 25 Mar 21
Ben’s a super responsive, thoughtful, sharp and all around great guy to work with. Excellent with his trade. I’d recommend him to anyone. Thanks Ben!
Seth L.
Seth L.
21:36 29 Jun 19
Ben and team are incredible to work with. They are reliable and proficient. I'd highly recommend hiring them for web development work. SethVOLTAGE
Craig A.
Craig A.
20:50 18 Jun 19
It was a pleasure to work with Ben and his team. It is rare to find such attention to high standards of coding and devops.
Lexi S.
Lexi S.
15:36 18 Jun 19
Grateful to have Ben and his team as such a capable, reliable partner for completing client work!
Tom S.
Tom S.
13:18 14 Jun 19
I reached out to Buink after finding Ben’s name in a local developer/consultant listing in 2017, and I have to say, it has been an absolute pleasure to work with Buink. Ben consistently understands not just the development task laid in front of him but the business application behind the task. I’ve... never felt more comfortable with a development team than I do with Buink. I truly feel Ben and his team are integral partners in the success of my more
Marilyn F.
Marilyn F.
22:47 13 May 19
I could not recommend Buink Web Development more highly. Ben and his team have recently developed a budgeting app for me (both web and IOS). I have had the opportunity of working with them for over a year and I am extremely happy with the results.I would say that the biggest plus for me is that I... trust Ben completely. From the very first, Ben has helped me make decisions that were in the best interest of my company. I have never felt like he is taking advantage of me. Ben does his best to keep the whole process very open and upfront. I have really appreciated that.I tell people all the time that I love my developers. And I do. I'm very happy that I chose to use Buink to develop my apps. It was the best business decision I could have made.If you are looking for someone to develop a website or app, I strongly suggest choosing Buink Web Development. They are fantastic!Marilyn Ference, President, Defend Your Money, LLCread more
James Landon B.
James Landon B.
01:33 28 Aug 18
Great company to help with all your web design needs!
Next Reviews

Connect with Buink

Connect with Buink via email, send us a message, or subscribe to our blog.