One of the more interesting (and somewhat heated) debates ensued lately over the question if someone who is building a company merely based on the commercial opportunity and without much passion for the actual product is a “real” entrepreneur.
In Europe this debate is stoked by the undeniable success of the Samwer brothers who made a killing from cloning US businesses such as Groupon, building them up as fast as they can and then often selling them back to the company they copied in the first place. Should they be considered “true entrepreneurs” as all they do is copy?
I find this discussion fascinating as I feel it’s misguided. For starters: I don’t believe that you have to have an original idea to consider yourself an entrepreneur. In reality often even the most original ideas are not original at all. Take Google — their AdWord business model (and the source of pretty much all their revenue) wasn’t invented by Larry & Sergej but by Bill Gross of Idealab. Google just happen to execute better on it.
Secondly — if you have ever started a company you know that creating, building and nurturing a startup is a ton of blood, sweat and tears. Regardless how original the underlying idea is; it always comes down to execution and perseverance in the light of adversity.
And lastly: If you happen to be successful with an idea or model which was done before you’re doing something very right — as otherwise you wouldn’t stand a chance in the marketplace. Which brings us back to the Samwers — their uncanny ability to execute is just incredible.
Whatever you do, whatever your idea is and whatever anyone else tells you: If you build something and make it work you’re the real deal.
There is no first and second class entrepreneurship.