Is copying a start-up idea legitimate?

How often do we get an idea which could make us rich? is one such fantastic idea from a genius, Phanindra Sama. REDBUS was recently acquired by IBIBO group and the deal is worth close to 800 crores. As soon as REDBUS shot to fame there came other players who started operating in the same market space. There are always people who copy or derive from successful ideas and in this case Abhibus, Travelyaari and SimplyBus would be the ones who simply transcribed the idea of Phanindra.

We can find many examples in our day to day life where this copy work takes place but is it legitimate?

Would it kick off and be a good start-up idea?

“Good artists copy,great artists steal” Pablo Picasso

The whole point can be made out from this quote. Bringing out a brand new idea is good and is certain to acclaim the success but bringing out new ideas all the times is not something uncomplicated and smooth.

There is no such thing as a brand new idea anymore, but rather different variations and combinations of existing ideas. 

– Steve Melhuish, co-founder and group CEO of PropertyGuru.

Start-ups need not innovate something, it’s not a hard and fast rule to unveil something every time. Start-ups could use a pre-existing idea and can frame a contemporary state of art product which can revolutionize the market.

“Copying turns out to be our number one learning strategy. Copying is essential to the spread of anything”

–Mark Earls

Mark Earls who happens to be a renowned author and consultant on human behaviour, talked at The Next Web Conference in Amsterdam about the “curse” of originality and how copying helps leads to innovation and creating new things.

Stealing something altogether paves a new way where the product happens to be the best even though it resembles a comparable or identical product already existing.


A team of brilliant minds at APPLE incorporated various products already available in market and made something called as I-Phone but they have taken all the BEST stuff and brought it together. So APPLE never copied, they stole it.

While all the other giants like Samsung presented a flop show by being sued by APPLE for having copying and using their patented products, APPLE only showcased a success trophy with I-Phone. APPLE was initially a computer manufacturing company but their entry into phone making was a start-up which eventually turned out to huge success and now the brand has surpassed COCO-COLA to become world’s most valuable brand in the Omnicom’s “Best Global Brands” report.

Similarly Facebook which is a leading social networking site is a start-up combination of many social networking sites like Myspace, hashtags in twitter and the recent location services from foursquare and still Facebook keeps on unveiling new features and presents them efficiently and gingerly embeds each feature into the site making it the finest and thereby STEALING THE SHOW.

The identity of Facebook can never be questioned because it never copied an idea from any of the other sites, it simple stole the idea.

If considered carefully, even ANDROID is not totally a new idea but indeed was a deviation of the “walled garden” approach of iOS and its now a ubiquitous platform used on high scale worldwide competing the best operating systems in the market and henceforth proving that stealing an idea could altogether make a new product if effectively altered according to the needs of the consumer.

Essentially companies that are highly successful are all not innovators but they set a strong identity and maintained high standards in their products which eventually brought them to the position they are in.

When eventually all the examples considered above were successful, no one complained or lamented about stealing the ideas because the quality of the products were of such high standard and unbeaten.

All that a start-up needs for success is its contingency on execution leaving the point of copied or original idea alone.

APPLE would again make a good example here with Steve Jobs unveiling I-Phone from a company which only made computers till then making its way to the top defeating already existing phone makers like Nokia and Motorola.

All it took was efficient and proper management and effort in stealing the ideas.

So a start-up idea can be stolen not copied and the irony here would be saying stealing is legitimate.

Sai Chaitanya Banala

Engineer by ambition , writer by passion !!

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