Riding on the coattails of innovators

Smarta keeps getting press releases asking us to write about online specs retailer Glasses2you.com. The reason we haven’t until now is it’s basically the same business as Jamie Murray Wells’ Glassesdirect.co.uk, which also sells frames and lenses from prescription at a fraction of the price of high street opticians.Jamie’s story is well documented. Outraged at the cost of specs he used the final year of his student loan to start the website while still at uni and within months had an instant hit on his hands. The opticians he caught cold did their best to shut him down but he persevered to scoop numerous awards and raise substantial finance to take the business to the next stage.Without doubt Jamie got there first. But why should that matter? Glasses2you isn’t original but does the consumer really care? Presumably not if they’re getting a good deal.Business is littered with handsomely profitable companies riding on the coattails of innovators. John Paleomylites openly admits he started price comparison site BeatThatQuote.com by looking at market leader MoneySuperMarket.com and thinking ‘I’ll have a bit of that’. Inside two years he'd built a £10m turnover business with £3m profits. A year on, turnover's doubled. Enough said.Budding entrepreneurs often waste years searching for that all too elusive ‘big idea’, when all they really need to do is find a way of doing an existing idea better – or even, if the market’s big enough, just as well.

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