“Copycatfight”: 6Wunderkinder vs. Copycats

2 Nov

 

what happened up till now:

6Wunderkinder pick a  fight… It all started roughly two months ago when 6Wunderkinder posted their “Anti-Copycat” revolution post basically claiming that certain startups and individuals had “ruined” the reputation of Berlin (and Germany) as an innvoative city, turning it into  ”copycat city”. The attacked companies came basically from the German incubator rocket internet, so the 6Wunderkinder manifesto can be seen as a direct attack on the Samwer brothers, who are the brains and founders behind rocket internet and are personally highly involved in most startups they incubate.

 

Lukasz Gadowski

Lukasz strikes back… On October 21st, Lukasz Gadwoski – founder of spreadshirt.com and co-founder of TeamEurope – posted a rebuttal to the Wunderkinder post calling it an anti-social hate campaign. He felt attacked because some of his companies can be seen as copycats as well (spreadshirt is more or less cafepress.com and he was an early investor in StudiVZ, a facebook clone). Lukasz wonderful rant first mocks the Wunderkinder for not really being that amazingly innovative themselves because todo lists have been done before and also attacks a couple of the other startups that supported the “Anti-Copycat” movement. Finally, however, he has a very good point: why did the Wunderkinder not call their campaing the “pro-innovation” campaign but decided to be against others, in Lukasz words: spreading hate.

What I think about all this… I can understand the frustration of the 6Wunderkinder: they are trying to be innovative and probably have been mocked several times by their American peers as coming from Copycatland or asked which company they are copying. That must cause frustration. I also fully support their call for more genuine innovation in the German startup scene, hopefully one day resulting in “the next Facebook” being built in Berlin. I also prefer innovation to copying but I think we should be grateful to the Samwer brothers and to people like Lukasz. Let’s be honests: They put Germany (and especially Berlin) on the startup map. Without their huge exits probably a lot less people would notice the German startup environment – and even though their companies weren’t the pinnacle of innovation it is still easier to complain about so called copycats than actually make one (successfully). And that is a second aspect not to be neglected: The execution of these copycats was excellent – maybe sometimes even better than the original (see this Business Insider Article about the Samwer brothers impact on Groupon suggests).

So bottom line is: I believe we should respect and even be grateful for what people like the Samwers and Lukasz Gadwoski did – which is establish a German startup environment in the first place and prove that Germans have the “excellence in execution” ability. They are to be thanked that we actually have a budding financing and VC scene here in Germany. On the other hand I also understand and respect the rebellious newcomers like 6Wunderkinder, eager to create new and sparkling stuff. Well – go ahead! But one thing I am sure of: STOP FIGHTING! I have to agree with Lukasz: Let’s work together! We have proven that we can execute and create value (=exits), now let’s work together and be innovative without losing the execution excellence – and then, together, we can create a great German startup scene.

 

 

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