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山寨也能成大器 A copycat is far from second best in business

来源:www.en369.cn  作者:英语作文网  时间:2012-11-30  

True entrepreneurs are supposed to shun imitation and try to be authentic and original. I’m not convinced this strategy generally makes commercial sense. Indeed, the merits of being a copycat are underrated.
After all, every business idea is derived from something that preceded it – what lawyers call prior art. The level of replication in any so-called new product or service is simply a matter of degree. Unless you specifically infringe a patent, design, trademark or copyright, or are very blatantly passing off your goods as if they were a rival’s, you can profitably rip off an idea.
说到底,每个商业点子都来源于之前的点子——律师称为“现有技术”(prior art)。任何所谓的新产品或新服务都存在复制行为,只是程度不同而已。只要不侵犯某一专利、外观设计、商标或版权,或将自己的商品冒充成竞争对手的商品,你就可以凭借一个点子大赚一笔。
As ever, it is execution that matters, not the idea. At PizzaExpress, a competitor called Pizzaland opened a branch with a similar appearance and menu to ours. We sued and lost the legal action – but won the war. Pizzaland was a poor experience, and in due course the brand disappeared – while PizzaExpress has doubled in size since.
It can be much quicker, cheaper and lower-risk to mimic than to start something from scratch. Unfortunately, many founders suffer from an acute case of “not invented here” syndrome, and fall in love with their particular concept. You need an ego to be an entrepreneur, but also be humble enough to know when a legal version of someone else’s model is better than anything you can devise.
Arguably, the entire own-label phenomenon is a huge example of copycat behaviour. Food companies produce new groceries, and supermarkets copy them and market them at lower prices. Perhaps this undermines research and development spending – but it also obliges suppliers to invest in making their offerings as distinctive and good value as possible. And ultimately it is right that in a free enterprise system, you cannot allow anyone who comes up with an obvious idea to enjoy a legally protected monopoly.
The digital marketplace is swamped by clones. Among the most successful in the field are Alexander, Oliver and Marc Samwer, three brothers in Germany who have built copies of eBay, Zappos, Grouponand Airbnbacross various European countries before the Americans arrived. Their form of ruthless innovation has been exceedingly effective: they are reckoned to be billionaires. The brothers run a clone “factory” called Rocket which incubates dozens of internet start-ups – many of which take their business plans from Silicon Valley. They have learnt to scale rapidly, and tailor online companies to European tastes and cultures – which is why they have done so well.
数码市场更是模仿的天下。最成功的莫过于德国的亚历山大•桑威尔(Alexander Samwer)、奥利弗•桑威尔(Oliver Samwer)和马克•桑威尔(Marc Samwer)三兄弟,他们赶在美国公司登陆之前在欧洲数国创建了山寨版的eBay、Zappos、Groupon和Airbnb。他们这种形式的“不懈创新”收效巨大,三人已被视作亿万富翁。三兄弟经营着一家名叫“Rocket”的山寨“工厂”,孵化着几十家互联网初创公司,其中很多都是从硅谷照搬经营方案。他们学会了快速扩张,学会了让网络公司适应欧洲的品位与文化,并因此取得成功。
I would generally prefer to back a replica of a highly profitable and thoroughly tested business – but in a new territory – than invest in a genuinely pioneering idea. The latter sounds much more exciting, but it probably won’t work: the former has a much better chance of making it.
Creativity is often exaggerated as a vital skill that every entrepreneur should possess. In fact, a sense of opportunism and an ability to carry out tasks effectively are at least as important. Advances progress incrementally, not by giant leaps. And both types of venture help create jobs and wealth.
Oded Shenkar, a professor at the Fisher College of Business at the Ohio State University, is the intellectual of the phenomenon, and author of Copycats: How Smart Companies Use Imitation to Gain a Competitive Edge. He argues that just copying a market leader in every respect isn’t clever: instead, do what they do only better, cheaper and with a different spin. And get a move on – the originator is unlikely to simply sit back and watch you steal their market.
俄亥俄州立大学(Ohio State University)菲舍尔商学院(Fisher College of Business)教授石家安(Oded Shenkar)专门研究这种现象,并著有《模仿的力量:聪明企业如何模仿以赢得战略优势》(Copycats: How Smart Companies Use Imitation to Gain a Competitive Edge)。他认为,在方方面面都模仿市场领先的企业并非明智之举,模仿它们更优秀、更经济、更独到的做法才是可行之道。而且动作要迅速——原创者不会坐视不管、眼睁睁地看着你抢走它们的市场。
It can be make sense to let a pioneer go first and then follow as a fast second before they have established a monopoly.
Quite often the imitator’s technology can be more refined and entirely legal. A first mover advantage is all very well, but copycats can learn from a first mover’s mistakes and capitalise on the fact that consumers like choice. They benefit from the fact that a market is known to exist for their product – although they clearly face entrenched competition.
In every city I visit, I look for novel restaurant formats. I would never bring them to Britain by signing a licence, franchise or joint venture. I would simply copy the best elements and do it my way. That’s capitalism, I guess.
The writer runs Risk Capital Partners, a private equity firm, and is chairman of StartUp Britain
本文作者管理着私人股本公司Risk Capital Partners,并担任StartUp Britain主席