At Jaaga Startup we get a lot more applications than we can accept into our coworking space. This leads to questions internally about selection criteria, primarily around me-too startups. We have tended to reject these startups as not innovative enough and we are now questioning our bias.  

I come from corporate land where a lot of new product/process development involves transfer of technology from other industries and markets. This is rightly lauded as innovation and there is a well-established market for ‘innovation’ experts.  

Back to our me-too applications then. These are startups copying a ‘successful’ startup and trying to replicate it in Bangalore/India. For example, this year has seen a plethora of TaskRabbit clones and ‘Uber for X’ startups. These startups are transferring a (validated) business model to a new geographical market. More often than not there is little technology innovation needed. Business models, on the other hand, need to be tweaked – primarily through service innovations later in the startup’s life span. See, for instance, Myntra’s mobile-only move. If technology transfer is one facet of innovation, isn’t business model transfer another? Are these startups not, then, innovative too?  

Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that there is very little different about these startups in the early stages – which is when they come to us. So, are we right to reject them? We seek your thoughts and comments.