Today there has been a discussion on the web regarding Singapore’s latest copy of the very popular Pinterest. Disclosure: The founder is not a Singaporean.
It’s nothing new about websites copying the successful ones, but the commotion came from a blatant copy of the original site, which caused quite a stir among the community, and thus the discussion of “Singaporeans” are uncreative has resurfaced, again.
If you see this article from SgEntrepreneur, you’ll find that the ripoff, Singterest, is exactly the same as the original one:
As the author puts it: “I’m not very fond of copycats. I think if one were to do a startup, it should be cutting edge instead of trailing behind the footsteps of a giant.”
Of course, there are some discussions on Twitter as well, and the site owner of Singterest responded saying that they launched it the same week the idea was conceived, and that now they wished that they launch it on April 1st instead as a April’s fool’s gift.
What are my thoughts?
Execution matter, and Singterest should be creditted for it.
For one, Singterest put up the site in just a matter of a few days since their decision to build one that is localized to the Singapore community. Personally, I think this is a job well done. A few days ago, I spoke to someone who gave a very good advice to the Singapore community: “Just do it. Dont hold back and not launch your product. Unless you have a superstar team and everyone is super focused on it, nobody really cares.”.
So what if Singterest is a complete ripoff? What matters now is that, they have a working site, they have users (i think), and it would only take them a few more days to “localize” it, adding on a Singapore touch to it. And personally, I think this should definitely deserve some credit, as Mark Zuckerberg puts it: Keep focused and keep shipping.
On creativity, and stealing.
Very few ideas are new nowadays, so what really sell nowadays are the UI as well as the marketing. For now, I guess what startups founder can be creative about is on innovating the delivering of an existing business model, or innovating on its user interface. For Singapore, I think the community is getting there. But we have to think the Asian way. Asia is not the States, and Techinasia also published an excellent article on this topic, where we should leverage on our “home advantage” and build something that suits the Asian ecosystem.
On copying and stealing, personally, I think there is nothing wrong in copying, as Steve Jobs puts it in 1996, good artist copy, great artist steals. While Singterest received some reprimands from the community for blatantly copying the whole Pinterest site, including their tagline, most of the startups now copy some components and designs of their websites from other existing websites too. Perhaps Singterest shouldnt have copied the whole site and release it to the public, just like that. Let’s see if Singterest will come out with something different in the next couple of days.
This represents a personal opinion. If you have read this far, you should definitely follow me on Twitter.