Rocket Internet in South Africa

Yesterday, an ecomPunk reader who in his own words works for a large multinational and would like to stay anonymous sent us very interesting insights about how the Samwer brothers have expanded their cloning business to South Africa.

It all started with Oliver Samwer and the post that he talks about a blitzkrieg. Yes, I know the one that put the company in a bit of spotlight. He mentioned South Africa and that is when we all knew that they were on their way. Rocket Internet seems to be the kind of business that does not do a lot of PR and then on one day the launch companies in various markets, more on that in a bit.

It seems that literally people moved from Germany to come live in South Africa. This was done in early October and then in December multiple job advertisements were placed in local online recruitment websites. The initial roles was for buyers and marketing people. Then came the developers and the people that were suppose to build the software for the various businesses.

There are 3 names that is seen a bit in terms of leadership of Rocket Internet South Africa: Hendrik Harren, Emilian Popa and Niels Körber. Niels even wrote a blog post on the payments processing seen in South African ecommerce. That post played a role in showing where they were aiming.

So now the question becomes what are the holdings that Rocket Internet have in South Africa:

1. Zando (Online Fashion store Zando Launches in SA) is a sister company of Zalando. The UI is very similar and the selection of products point in Google searches to other Zalando like companies.

2. Glossybox is a subscription based commerce solution that provides promotional products packaged to a select bunch of users. In a recent article it says:

GlossyBox South Africa has also partnered with admired and respected beauty and cosmetic brands, as well as leading South African beauty and cosmetic manufacturers in order to provide an offering that meets the demands of a broader market, which includes specific ethnic and racial groups.
In addition to the service, provides various platforms for the subscribers to learn about new product launches, share their experiences, and provide the company with valuable feedback to ensure the GlossyBox experience is always enjoyable and well-received.

3. – seems to be a clone of something like IKEA. For the South African ecommerce market it would be direct competition for Yuppiechef which is very popular in the kitchenware space. – Airbnb clone that is seen in Europe as Windu. Read more about this clone in this press release.

5. Dropgifts (Social gifting tool DropGifts is coming to South Africa) – This is the most riskiest one out of all of their ideas. The company that they decided to clone is a company (Wrapp) that  has not become a success yet. The company has not yet launched and will supposedly launch during Q1 of 2012. The main reason why this could work is that South Africa has a very high amount of Facebook and that the business is run by a very talented entrepreneur Kevin Tucker.

Right now we get to the company that is a very bold clone. Lazada (Have The Samwers Gone Too Far With Their Blatant Amazon Clone Lazada?) … is a clone for wait for it – Amazon ?! What makes this a very interesting company is that it launched simultaneously in various markets. GigaOM writes:

Turns out Lazada’s also operational in Egypt and the Gulf states, the Philippines and Thailand, and will soon open in Malaysia. And not only that, but Rocket’s also given birth to another Zappos-esque outfit in South East Asia — this time called not Zalando, but Zalora. They sure like their Zs. Did I mention they have a heavy focus on execution?

South East Asia and the Middle East is at the moment the fastest growing ecommerce markets and the fact that Lazada covers both markets indicates that the Samwers have done their home work. I have a feeling that South East Asia may be the next battle ground for them (Attack of the Clones: Rocket Internet Hiring in Thailand).

The point that needs to be made is that Rocket Internet gets lots done quickly (most of the South African startups have either been done with help from the mother company in Germany or is only done in Germany via German developers), their staff retention policy is well known at 60%. Note that also they do look at bringing the best local entrepreneurs into their stable to help launch these companies.

One other thing to consider: Why do 3 brothers who are notorious for being shy to the press, do a few days of media work with Bloomberg and Wired UK? Simple because they know that their businesses are rolling out and that it helps a lot in terms of trust for new businesses. If you know you own a company, you are more likely to do business with them.

(Image by Kyknoord)

About Roman Zenner
Ich bin ich

2 Responses to Rocket Internet in South Africa

  1. Pingback: Lesenswert: Rocket Internet, MyTaxi,, Newsgrape, Facebook, Social-Network-Top-10 ::

  2. Pingback: Speaking to Nils Körber, CTO for Rocket Internet South Africa « ecomPunk

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