My take (only slightly off-topic): While I emphatically agree with the author on the types of startup one should aim to clone locally, I see little discussion regarding the inherent difficulties of even starting any kind of business in many countries. Mandatory expensive social insurance, high company formation costs, bureaucracy, all make bootstrapping prohibitive. In other words, maybe the problem isn't getting inspiration for the proper kind of startup to clone; it's finding a way to get the ball rolling.
As an example; my wife and I started a dating site in one EU country (which was crowded with dating sites) for (in the beginning) around $150/month hosting and 'free' programming (I spent a few weeks on it in my spare time). We spent $250 on marketing and after around 6 months it made more than I made from my other company with almost no work (30-60 min/day). Sold it for very nice money (no mortgage); did a few of those kind of things and invested (part) of the money in 'bigger' things with actually employees. I often like that of model a lot better than stories on HN; simply reasoned; there are only a few Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest like companies; the chance that your millions $ VC company makes it is not that large. It's make or break otherwise the VC multiplier is not large enough.
I think to bootstrap, depending on your company, you need the right group of people and the idea depends on those people. If your wife happens to know all the press in your country, it's far easier to bootstrap a number of companies than when you have to hire PR companies. It's your job as entrepreneur to gather people around you who will help you.
So while I agree with your ; for a typical startup you need a lot of resources to get off the ground, but for any kind of business; nah. It depends on your dreams, but if you just want to supplement or replace your income (or work more or less), it's not that hard.
You'll face those problems no matter what company you do, so there is no reason to add even more risk.
Pixiv vs. DeviantArt
Mixi vs. Facebook
Nico Nico Douga vs. Youtube
China is an even more extreme case, though that also has problems of corruption, legal wrangling, censorship, and so on.
Anecdotal but I've had many more of my Japanese and Korean friends abroad join Facebook in the last year or two.
I used to be on Mixi, and I and most people I know have pretty much stopped using it. When they started tying in their services to other APIs like Twitter, etc, I think is when they really jumped the shark.
(Also, Mixi is not really a Facebook clone, per say, as they both launched in the same month. I would say they were just another SNS that was more geared towards the Japanese market)
At one point they were the highest selling piece of software (mac or pc) in Japan, which they achieved via a Japanese distributor - not sure if that counts as an office in the country or not.
So does anyone have any good examples or suggestions? :)
Facebook is Public Enemy #1a (Twitter is 1b) to the Chinese government. It's only available via a VPN, and VPN is an expensive proposition to most Chinese - having one means effectively doubling your internet bill. Most Chinese know Facebook, just like they know Twitter and YouTube. They just aren't willing to jump through the hoops required to use them over renren, weibo, or youku.
A much better example of your point (sticking with China) would be tencent (QQ) - they cloned ICQ and are now a massive company WITHOUT protection from the government.