We’ve shared a few posts about how we’ve built Cold Email Studio over the last 8 months and we genuinely want other people to benefit from any of our learnings.
But, I don’t think we’d anticipated someone copying us so blatantly.
However, if we’re using a webflow theme for our site and we’re sharing insights into building our business, maybe this is to be expected.
We’re all guilty of copying from others in one way or another. Most of what we create is ultimately a mashup of the things that have influenced us, which reminds me of Austin Kleon’s great book Steal Like An Artist.
The infamous Samwer brothers are known for creating European clones of popular US tech companies. They copy their businesses, build a European foothold and then attempt to sell the company back to the original.
This happened with the eBay clone Alando.de, which they sold to eBay in 1999, and the Groupon clone CityDeal, which they sold back to them in 2010 for around €100 million.
Then there’s the Wimdu story, which was a company that copied Airbnb and used some shady tactics to try and steal Airbnb hosts. Airbnb called them out, criticized them publicly, but still considered buying them. In the end Wimdu failed.
Now I can’t compare us to those tech giants, but in the startup world, copycats are very normal no matter how big you are.
This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced a copycat startup. My first business was copied by two different companies, one in the US and one in France. Neither of them survived.
So how do I feel about this?
Honestly, initially I felt very annoyed.
Bootstrapping Cold Email Studio is hard. Building a great team, to deliver a great service, whilst growing revenues is a challenge. Scaling to the point when you can pay salaries is a grind.
Where we are today is the product of hundreds of small decisions, compromises, sacrifices and challenging moments. It’s an experience that’s difficult, but worth it.
If someone confuses who we are with a copycat startup, after all our hard work, that's just not cool.
Ultimately, I know that the business itself is hard to replicate. And the optimist in me hopes that the people behind this are just figuring out their startup journey and meant no harm.