Rocket Internet starts innovation incubator: Rocket2 launches in San Francisco

RocketSquared_PressMaterial2015
RocketSquared_PressMaterial2015

After announcing a partnership with Roland Berger and the plans for a “super incubator” in 2014, Rocket Internet will now start an innovation incubator in San Francisco, named Rocket2 (“RocketSquared”). Different to Rocket Internet, which focusses on e-commerce, Rocket2 will probably look into the creative internet space.

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Rocket Internet-backed companies are known to grow and expand extremely fast, but also to take a long time until they turn profitable. While the original Rocket factory usually uses existing business models as concept base, Rocket2 will focus on new ideas.

Towards VentureVillage, Rocket Internet’s CEO Oliver Samwer mentioned that some businesses take off extremely well, while others are growing a little too slow and will probably not be able to become the market leader anymore.

Especially Wimdu seems to bother Samwer as investors did not get on board as planned. While Airbnb has received an overall investment of almost $800 million, Wimdu only raised $90 million in a single round in 2011. Rumour has it that Airbnb is currently aiming to raise another $1 billion.

Looking at it from the outside, Rocket2 only makes sense: The speed, expertise and capital of Rocket Internet is feared by a lot of small but innovative startups. With Rocket2 those young companies are able to get a well-off investor on board, without having to fear copy cat competitors.

Samer did not want to go into details on what areas Rocket2 will concentrate on. An insider familiar with the case did state, however, that not only a large number of developers is about to get hired, but also artists, singers and dancers. Asking Samwer for details, he blushed, smiled and said: “Let me put it this way: This is to the crazy ones.”

Creative internet? Is there a market?

Yes. There is. It is not only huge but also not yet taken over. Just last year, Berlin-based Sidestage launched, US-based competitor Gigit has been around for two years. Both platforms help to find artists for events.

Other platforms, like Inkitt, let writers publish chapters on its platform to let the community read over it in order to find the next “Blockbuster”. While these startups are still in their early stages, others like New York-based FiftyThree, which develops the creative drawing App “Paper”, raise plenty of capital –  $30 million in early 2015 in this case.

The source also stated that Samwer is looking for office space in San Francisco’s Mission District, where other startups such as Jimdo, Airbnb and Etsy are based. Samwer plans to open the space Q4 2015.

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Update: Happy April Fools’ Day!