The Indian startup arena is undoubtedly a rapidly growing one with hundreds of passionate entrepreneurs. Being a part of the Proto.in team in the early stages was one of the best things that happened to me when i was an undergrad. It gave me the opportunity to meet some of the best inspirational minds who threw away cozy jobs to work on their start ups. Inspiration is one vital thing to keep us going forward but what sucks is when that inspiration takes an ugly face and becomes a rip off. I can recall the lines from a talk given by Mahesh Murthy during the Delhi edition of Proto.in where he said there is no good reason to build the “Indian” version of Twitter or the “Indian” version of Flickr when the original versions are out there strong.
The ‘Indian version thing’ is completely fine and might even turn out really well but the bad thing is when the startup starts ripping off things from their western inspirations and this post is a small showcase! The point is not to hurt the people behind these companies but just to let out my thoughts. I bet these guys are burning their midnight oil to make things happen but some minute things like these are going to put the black mark which will definitely be hard to erase in the long run.
Infibeam from Amazon.com
Infibeam.com is one of the big names in the Indian e-commerce arena. The site’s alexa rank (~2340, Apr 2010) is a clear indication that they are receiving a pretty good inflow of traffic. I did read that the company’s founder was a part of the Amazon M&A team and there are rumors about Amazon acquiring them but neither of this is a reason to rip off the logo/design/color schemes. Not to leave aside the “PI reader”!
The color schemes used in Infibeam.com are also pretty similar (if not the exact hex code stolen from the stylesheet!).The layout isn’t different either.
Grabbon from Groupon
This is the kind of service where i said the Indian version will make good sense. A site like Groupon will definitely be beneficial for a city like Bangalore filled with a bazillion software engineers hooked on to the internet. Grabbon(!) did capitalize the opportunity well and started off at the right time but …..
There are also a handful of other indian websites which use the group buying concept and the story isn’t much different there. Exhibit : Group2Deal.com, Mydala.com
PS: If you are replicating the idea it doesn’t mean that the the menu navigation wordings, footer design etc need to be the same across all sites.
24HoursLoot from Woot
This one replicates the hugely popular ‘one day, one deal’ model. Not a big rip off and brownie points for not copying the design.
Bid20 from Swoopo
Bid20 is the Indian version of the bidding fee auction site Swoopo.com. Swoopo is a highly controversial site which made a revenue of $28 million dollars according to Wikipedia. The user has to pay money upfront and buy credits in order to make bids. This shopping model is pretty addictive as it gives the scope to get products at really low prices. No wonder this site is doing good in India!
I bet these are not the only ones which fall under this category. The only question which i have is “WHY”?