Over the last few years, Spain has become an example for many countries thanks to the growth of its entrepreneurial system. However, this growth has its ” buts “: Spanish entrepreneurship is often questioned from abroad. According to the most critical voices, Spanish entrepreneurs are not innovating, but replicating successful models from the international scene. Are these objections justified?
The “copycat” tendency
Considering Glovo and Cabify, the only Spanish startups valued at more than one billion euros, the critical sector seems to be right. The food delivery company was founded two years after its German counterpart, DeliveryHero. For its part, Cabify emerged two years after the emergence of Uber.
These are the most striking cases, but not the only ones. Experts agree that Spanish entrepreneurs choose to be inspired by other models rather than invest in research, practice informally known as “copycat”. What is the reason for such predilection for copying rather than creating? Spain is very risk-averse, and Spanish entrepreneurs prefer to feel certain that their product will work before jumping into the pool.
However, is “copycat” a negative thing? Not necessarily. Entrepreneurship is about finding an opportunity in the market and taking advantage of it to launch a product or service, but it does not have to be new. The economic world tends to focus on the what, i.e. the product, rather than the how, i.e. the way of launching it, so it always remains in the background. However, they are equally important. Therefore, it is possible to innovate in the development of a project based on an existing product.
Spain is different
This is where Spanish entrepreneurship has grown a lot in recent years. The Spanish market has many peculiarities that cause an internationally successful startup to fail in Spain. For this reason, the challenge that Spanish entrepreneurs face is to adapt the projects of successful startups in the world to the peculiar characteristics of our market.
SeQura, informally known as “the Spanish Klarna“, is a clear example. This fintech was founded by David Bäckström, who discovered the Klarna model that was successful in Northern Europe and decided to transfer it to the South. Not only did he take the Klarna model as a reference, but he hired Klarna employees to replicate the project, combining them with people with experience in the Spanish market.
SeQura’s model could be considered a “sibling” to Klarna’s, although it could never be said that they are “twins”. Bäckström wanted to add value to his project by including a “buy now, pay later” option, which makes the model attractive to customers in a more unstable economic context such as Southern Europe.
It is clear that Bäckström started from a previous model, but isn’t he an entrepreneur? He has found an opportunity in a specific market and used it to launch his service successfully. This is an example of how entrepreneurship does not have necessarily mean creating a product from scratch. Sometimes it is better to go for inspiration rather than research. Spanish entrepreneurs know this well and are taking advantage of the peculiarities abovementioned of the Spanish market to develop products and services already existing in other countries. Innovation and replication are two totally compatible actions.