Disruptive technology is far from the only path to success. In fact, many believe that imitation is under-valued. A published report in the Harvard Business Review claims imitation is actually “an intelligent search for cause and effect.” Author Oded Shenkar’s research led him to conclude that imitation, as well as being a difficult task requiring imagination and intelligence, is in fact a “primary source of progress”.
Following Shenkar’s line of thinking, here are 5 key reasons to avoid disruptive technology in your startup.
1. It’s a Small World
Globalization has made the world a tiny one, at least when it comes to markets. Startups don’t often have the money (or time) to get a foothold in all the relevant markets at the same time. Look for great ideas in other parts of the world that are worth copying, find a way to improve upon them, and then be the first to deliver in your home market.
2. Imitation Drives Progress Too
History is littered with examples of successful businesses that imitated first and innovated second. McDonald’s didn’t invent fast food. Wal-Mart didn’t invent the high-volume, low-cost business model. It wasn’t Visa, MasterCard or American Express that invented the plastic card. To quote Shenkar, “Today’s lions are the descendants of copycats.”
3. Save on R & D
Research and development costs for inventors of a new technology are at least 30 percent higher than they are for ‘imitators’ looking for ways to improve. But don’t confuse this with imitation being easy: far from it. Scientists now acknowledge imitation is a demanding, complex process that takes advanced cognitive ability and high intelligence.
4. Learn From Early Adopters
Imitation based on the innovation of others has several advantages. Market research can be conducted on real customers in a real market. What other startups have had to do as they encounter obstacles, make mistakes, and pivot can be invaluable lessons for you.
5. Attract Investors
Not all investors are holding out until they find that next-big-thing. Many instead recognize the value in strategic innovation that is based on imitation of a proven concept. Look at banks, for example: they are much more likely to provide loans to those buying a franchise than those starting something completely untested, however promising it may be.
Federal laws may require that you verify that your investors are accredited. VerifyInvestor.com offers a simple, reliable and confidential process to help you confidently bring investors on board.