From Internet Clones to a Celebrity Curated Ecommerce Site: One New Orleanian’s International Adventure

GentologyIf you’ve ever wondered what a German startup clone incubator and a local fashion ecommerce site have in common, you’re in for a treat.

German-based Rocket Internet is an online startup incubator that replicates successful companies in new, global markets where they often become the number two or three player behind the original company. Rocket Internet companies are also sometimes acquired by the original company (Groupon acquired Germany’s CityDeal in 2010). Since the launch in 2007, the incubator now has 25 international offices in all continents with an operational reach to over 40 countries.

New Orleanian Jake Kupperman is a former employee (and brother of Silicon Bayou’s Zach Kupperman) of Rocket Internet in Australia who is now on a successful entrepreneurial journey of his own. A few of his takeaways from Rocket Internet are that it’s important not to get bogged down in the small details, there is no better time to move forward than right now, and you can patch together problems as them come. “If you wait until everything is perfect and ready to go, then your opportunity will have passed you by,” Kupperman said.

Rocket Internet was founded by three brothers. One of the infamous brothers, Oliver Samwer, said in a statement that the Internet is providing a once in a lifetime opportunity to entrepreneurs around the world. The brothers have been called thieves and copycats, but also innovators. Kupperman calls them executional innovators. “There are two sides to every business: the idea, and the execution,” he said. “While we may traditionally think of innovation as applying to the idea, the executional aspect is equally, if not even more important. The Samwer Brothers and Rocket Internet have created an innovative way to launch and expand businesses at an unbelievably rapid and efficient pace.”

Kupperman’s experience in Australia was “amazing.” He worked for The Iconic, a fashion and footwear ecommerce site launched by Rocket Internet. Kupperman said he learned everything is about timing. “It is imperative to get your product out quickly and to continue to scale at a fast pace. There will be growing pains along the way, but just continue to move forward, even if not everything is perfect. They really take a “build your ship as it sails” approach that is important to their success. Or in regards to Rocket as a whole, a “build your aircraft carrier as it sails” approach.”

Kupperman was brought on at Rocket as an international business development consultant. He quickly acquired a tremendous amount of responsibility at a fairly young age in the corporate world. “This teaches you to grow up quickly and to learn things the hard way, through your own experience,” he said. When everyone is “hungry to make their mark,” you can only imagine what comes next.

Kupperman took his background in ecommerce and recently co-founded and launched Gentology, a celebrity curated ecommerce site just for men. Gentology’s roster includes reality television star Tyler Baltierra, famous Boston Celtics player Paul Pierce, musical artists Three 6 Mafia and Juvenile, and Youtube sensation Harley Morentstein of Epic Meal Time. They plan to add around 15 new storefronts in the coming weeks, but have not yet released the names of any celebrities involved.

Gentology is intimate and interesting in a world of oversaturated startups and shopping sites. “The company’s model is three fold, proving to be mutually beneficial for all the parties involved,” wrote contributor Adriana Lopez. “Gentology provides an opportunity for brands to align themselves with celebrities they otherwise might not be able to afford endorsements from, and put their products on the radar of those they want to market. The celebrities have a new platform to expand their brand and connect with their fans. For Gentology members, it’s a new way to discover new products and connect with their favorite celebrities, often even getting recommendations from the experts themselves.”

“Gentology has been a great experience so far,” said Kupperman. “For me, it is all about creating something and watching it adapt and grow into its own. I truly love the team that we have put together – everyone brings their unique assets to the table and the pieces fit together perfectly. I also have a great passion for New Orleans, so to be able to get this launched here in my hometown has certainly been one of the best aspects to the entire project.”

As for the future of Gentology, “We plan on rolling [the celebrities] out in a phased approach over the next few weeks and months until we have a diverse collection that reaches to the interests of every different kind of man out there. It is important to us to have this variety and not be pigeonholed into one segment. The celebrity and customer feedback has been unbelievable thus far as fans are so excited to connect with their favorite icons in a way that wasn’t previously possible.”

What’s next for Kupperman? He says he is entirely focused on Gentology. “This is my passion and I want to see where we can take this. It is exciting to think about the possibilities and also humbling to see the generous support and feedback we have received so far, especially from the local community here in New Orleans.”

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