Are you concerned that copycat companies imply an immature ecosystem?
Is your international-based startup community and your respective founders focused on replicating other successful ideas? The Fandango of Lima, Peru. The Yelp of Almaty, Kazakhstan. The Lime bikes of Torino, Italy. These are all examples I have seen in developing startup communities. Yet, I feel a sense of disappointment from the community leaders when talking about these companies. It’s as if they are embarrassed that there are not any newly innovative break-out companies in their metro.
As a community leader do you feel anxiety over local break out copycat startups?
Let me put an end to that useless anxiety right now. Entrepreneurial success comes in many different forms and at different levels. But success is success regardless of what the sector, theme, arc, journey was or is going to be.
Entrepreneurship is fundamentally aspirational. New founders must be able to see themselves in other more mature startup founders. This is why well-conceived co-working spaces are critically important to a startup community – they bring together founders at different stages of their journey. This in turn provides founders of one stage the seamless ability to watch/learn/connect with founders of an advanced stage.
The key insight to remind everyone of is the notion that startup community building is a 20-year journey. In that context, finding wins – regardless of their origin – are great building blocks for your community. Those founders hopefully go on to recycle some of their capital. Those founders go on to advise other founders early in their company’s formation. And those founders become venture capital lightning rods for their next startup.
Entrepreneurial success is success and the lessons learned and shared during that journey aids everyone in the community. So, regardless of the type of company and the origin of the idea, celebrate the successful building of a company and their subsequent exit.