Last week I participated in an interesting online discussion about whether Brazilian entrepreneurs should attempt to create their own innovative sites or copy successful foreign ones.
Valid points were raised by both sides and all parties put forth compelling arguments.
That said, I remain steadfast in my belief that Brazilian entrepreneurs should aspire to create their own innovative sites, rather than copying successful foreign ones.
Where my worthy opponents and I agree, however, is that there do exist, real impediments to the creation of innovative sites in Brazil.
Although there are many impediments, the greatest hurdle, in my opinion, is psychological.
No one in Brazil has ever succeeded in creating a site with global reach, therefore, in the minds of many entrepreneurs (and venture capitalists), it is impossible.
Sure, there have been successes such as Buscape, which was bought last year by Naspers for US$342 million, but Buscape is largely focused on the domestic market.
Where are the Brazilian sites which go on to become global successes like Twitter, Facebook, and Google?
In thinking about this problem, I am reminded of the famous story of the four minute mile.
For years, people believed that it was physically impossible to run a mile (1609 meters) in under four minutes.
Then, one day on May 6th, 1954, at an athletic meet between British AAA and Oxford University, a man named Roger Bannister ran a mile in 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds.
Within three years of Roger Bannister's epic achievement, 16 other runners succeeded in running a mile in under four minutes.
The psychological barrier, which had prevented otherwise gifted athletes from achieving their full potential, was broken.
That's what we need in Brazil.
We need to break our four minute mile.
Once one Brazilian site goes from startup to global success, I have no doubt that there will be multiple successes.
Then no one will be asking whether Brazilian entrepreneurs should create their own sites or copy the sites of others--because everyone will be copying Brazilian sites! :)