Originally published on Thriving Blog

Last weekend, my husband (CTO) and I sat in front of the television and watched Shark Tank, the intriguing show where entrepreneurs get their few minutes of fame and the chance to pitch in front of investors who can choose to fund them or not. As the co-founders of a fledgling startup, we can’t help but tune in each week. One thing that comes up over and over as the investors debate whether or not they will fund someone is the question of uniqueness. Several times during a show, the sharks remind so many entrepreneurs that someone could copy their idea and they would be left struggling to compete. And while there’s some truth to what they are saying, I’d like to think of things in another way.

After watching this weeks episode, my husband and I started talking and I told him that no one can copy the soul of a company. He immediately said “I smell a blog post.” And in fact, he was right. I needed to explain what I was saying to him and to share it with others. Most entrepreneurs out here in the world of startup adventures want to solve a problem. For our part, we’d like to help people enjoy their wedding planning and the day itself. We want people to have a system that allows them to stress less and enjoy this significant time in their lives from the day they get engaged until the day they walk down the altar. How did we come up with this app?

Well, we built it during our own recent engagement. We wanted great online tools that would support us in planning our multicultural destination wedding. Can someone else copy that idea? Sure! Can someone else decide to build a wedding planning app? Of course!

We know we’re not the only ones out there. But there’s the product – and then there’s the people and the story behind the product. For me, the soul of an idea combines the problem, the people and the solution.

The problem was that we needed comprehensive online tools to help us plan. We wanted something aesthetically pleasing and practical.

The people behind the idea were two web development folks who believed they could create something that could solve their problem and add to their enjoyment, as well as the enjoyment of their guests.

The story involves a couple who owned a web development company and their desire to use great tools to plan one of the most significant days in their life. So, they created those tools for themselves. At the time, they did not think about making the app publicly available. But many months later, after they saw how much people struggled to enjoy this time in their lives, they wanted to help.

So, what’s the soul of wedocracy? It’s the many cups of coffee and the late night conversations about how to make something that will help people plan in a way that increases enjoyment for everyone. It’s the mornings seeing the sun rise after hyper-focused hours of prototyping, designing and coding. It’s the evenings we snuggle on the couch, holding a glass of wine in one hand and the remote in the other hand, ready to watch Shark Tank. It’s the smiles that come to our faces when we remember our wedding day, and are able to say we have no regrets whatsoever. It’s the unique opportunity to work together, love together and build something born out of our love. Now, that’s the soul of our company.

Can someone copy that? I don’t know. But I do know they’d have to get married, preferably in a wedding that involved guests from 4 countries, and customs from 4 cultures and maybe they’d need to throw in a tequila donkey to march in their post wedding procession with them.

Are you constantly worried that your latest venture may not be able to compete? Well, ask yourself this: can the soul of my company be copied? 

If you have something with an inspiring story based on a real problem you needed to solve that can really help other people, then you should keep going.

If you realize your idea or company does not have a good story, then it may be time to rethink things and make a few changes.

Got a great product with an even better story? Now, that’s hard to copy!

So, what’s the soul of your company?

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