‘Scale Down is Rule No. 1’: Rocket Opens its Doors to the Techies

By David Knight |

Love ’em or loathe ’em, you can’t ignore Rocket Internet. A serious driver of capital in the German tech scene, the Berlin-based startup production line is (in)famous for copycats and aggressive global expansion. It’s also renowned for the private nature of its founders, the Samwer brothers, and for largely keeping itself to itself.

That is changing, however, and last week it hosted its first public event. The Rocket Tech Talk at BASE_camp saw some of the company’s top experts emerge from the shadows to talk about how they believe startups can be a success.

Guido Serra, senior data architect, told the audience that developers should curb their natural instinct to make everything perfect first time round: “This might [take] time, a lot of time, meanwhile business gets delayed and customers are not being acquired. What then? Just get the minimum viable product in place; later you’ll pay the technical debt. It is the proper approach to succeed.”

Having said that, he warned against trying to scale up too quickly, arguing that it was important to get a product working first with a “small hardware footprint.”

He added: “So, scale down is the rule number one to bring your product online in time and at a reasonable operational cost. Big data? Exactly, don’t think of it, you’ll have time when the number of customers will start being your concern.”

Alin M. Nica, meanwhile, a PHP developer, warned those thinking of following in Rocket’s footsteps and joining the e-commerce world that it was more complicated than it might appear at first glance. He said: “One of the most important things I have learned? It’s not easy. Even if, as a coder, you might think e-commerce is just coding around a shop platform to get the KPIs right, it’s much more than that. Especially when you work internationally, you get challenged on a daily basis, in ways that are difficult to imagine.”

The event provided something of an insight into how Rocket thinks – and is perhaps a sign that it intend to reach out to the developer community in Berlin more than it does at the moment.