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Ask HN: Cloning a US startup for a european country ?
41 points by al_ on Feb 17, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 25 comments
Hi everybody, I was wondering what do you guys think about cloning a US startup for a european market ?

There is this american startup that has a great product, but there isn't any equivalent in my country ( France ). I'm thinking about cloning it because I felt in love with the product and think it could be a success in my country. Originally I didn't want to "clone" any product, but seeing this one really made me want to develop it. Anyone has done it before ? What are the different things to consider before starting such a project ? Would it be viewed as "bad" to do such a thing ?

It happens all the time and it's a great business model.

There have been a lot of successes with this. I'm shocked it doesn't happen more often.

There's no moral imperative saying it's "bad". In fact, quite the opposite. Just don't violate copyright.

I'm shocked it doesn't happen more often.

Ditto. For instance, someone should clone Nico Nico Douga:



Just don't violate copyright.

Or trademark, or patents, for the sake of completeness.

although software patents would be ok to violate.

It also happens the other way around, for example with Zopa and Prosper.

I (and a friend of mine) cloned digg/reddit (it's something like a mix between the two) about 4 years ago, as there was nothing alike in the Italian market. It worked very well and the product (called Oknotizie, http://oknotizie.virgilio.it) did a successful deal with Telecom Italia.

Go for it, just do it! If it's an useful service, you'll make people in France happy. They are your customers. No reason to feel bad because the US services don't want to provide their services locally in European countries (and no, translation does not equal localization).

It's probably fine as long as you stick to mainly cloning the idea or functionality, ideally perhaps modifying or extending it to fit your understanding of the local market.

The main place people go wrong is also cloning the look-and-feel, or making the name be an obvious pun/derivative/translation of the original. Not only for legal reasons (though it matters for those too), but it can make the clone feel too derivative, like it's a generic-brand knockoff instead of a product in its own right.

It can work but you need to evaluate the local market and see the differences. I had a few projects were this strategy failed because the market was different and I ignored it because was so convinced it must work. Also, I have one project which I still think will work but will take time (maybe years) before it can start to be profitable as the market is not mature enough.

Please don't sign your posts. It's against the guidelines. If people want to know more about you they can click on your username.

See: http://ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

Please don't sign comments, especially with your url. They're already signed with your username. If other users want to learn more about you, they can click on it to see your profile.

Sorry, my bad. Signature removed.

Please clone mint.com :-)

For this I would need an equivalent of Yodlee in France ;)

yeah..just use yoodlee and go bust in year or two like kublax did :)

I'm french too, and currently involved in "cloning" (although there will of course be some differences) a US concept, so I just hope it's not the same one!

Drop me an email, check out my profile ;)

There's no email in your profile. You should put it in the ``about'' field, the ``email'' field is not visible to other users.

Corrected. Thanks for noticing.

Go for it, some will view it as bad but just ignore them.

Interestingly enough we thought about offering localization services for international startups, the complete set (marketing, strategy, translation, management, sales, partnerships)as a package to get started at least far enough to make the market entry for clones unviable.

Any thoughts on that?

watch Fabrice Grinda at TedXParis http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJK3_vpfoQc (in French) - implementing ideas taken from one country into another is what he does for a living.

Go for it. Just make sure you are not violating the copyright.

Cloning a concept is fine, but cloning the (entire) interface is not.

As with all things moral, the moment you have to ask if it is moral, guess what, it isn't!

I often think about that many times. But I believe the best solution is to get in touch for a collaboration.

How about contacting the original site, maybe you can become its affiliate in France?

This has been in my mind too, in another european country not France.

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