Marsh and his co-founders set up a blog in which they detailed everything from financial information to business plans. It was as a result of this that Makeshift became a victim of copying.
"Someone came to an event and totally ripped off one of our ideas," he said. "It annoyed us… but it's an inevitable part of business on the web."
Being "ripped off" is becoming an increasingly common problem for tech companies. There are, in fact, some outfits that appear to specialize in copying a start-up's ideas – so-called "clone factories."
Germany-based Rocket Internet, a venture capital firm and incubator, is infamous for replicating business plans and launching them in new markets in super-quick time. And it is not alone, with cloning companies dotted across the world.
Sometimes, the cloned companies are even bought by the business behind the original idea.
In 1999, brothers and Rocket Internet founders Alexander, Marc and Oliver Samwer sold their German online-auction site Alando to eBay for a reported $50 million – just three months after its launch. And in 2010, Samwer-backed voucher site CityDeal was bought by Groupon six months after its launch for cash and stock worth a reported $126 million.
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"We focus on proven business models since we believe to have an idea is one thing, the successful execution of an idea is a completely different thing," Andreas Winiarski, Rocket Internet's spokesman, told CNBC in an emailed statement. "The great idea without the right execution is worthless."
Respect… and disrespect
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the start-up sphere has something of a love-hate relationship with cloning companies.
"They're respected because they take the ideas and they execute them well. They are operational machines," Jason Baptiste, CEO of publishing platform Onswipe and author of "The Ultralight Startup," told CNBC.
"But they're disrespected because they're completely ripping it off - from the ideas, to the colors and design. It's basically cheating."
Despite the risk of being copied, start-ups are continuing to shun legal protection in favor of the exposure that transparency brings – and even potential future investors aren't concerned.
"In an efficient market, you will always see some of this happening," Andreas Stavropoulos, partner at DFJ venture capital firm, told CNBC.
In fact, it's quite difficult for start-ups to get legal protection, with copyright, trademarks and patents hard to apply to many small businesses.