Shame on big Turkish corporations!
While discussing the Turkish startup scene with Galata Business Angels’ General Manager Ayşe İnal, I realized that there were not many successful “exits” out of Turkey. We could only count ten in the last 3 years that made it out of Turkey into the international market. I have been writing a lot about startups lately and I was very happy to write about many startups that received investments or awards like the Deloitte Fast 50.
So why is there lots of news about investments but no exits to match?
The answer is that neither the investors nor the entrepreneurs have matured enough. While there is much investing going on, much of it is not invested properly into successful teams and companies. The investors in Turkey are doing their best to find the right teams but as I see it, they lack the ability to follow up on their own investments. In Turkey, investors should always be somewhat involved in the areas of the startups they are investing in or they should invest in more startups to spread their luck. This is also because entrepreneurs usually see making a return on investors’ money as the ultimate goal, not as the means to a greater end. There are many stories about startups that dissolve after getting some funds. The founders of startups in most cases do not use the money as well as they should.
The other dimension is the number of investments and amount of money that goes to startups in general. Turkey is still far behind many countries it currently competes against in international markets when it comes to the number and extent to which startups are being funded. The money received by startups in most cases cover only very, very basic expenses; usually, there is no money left for marketing or a better rollout strategy.
However, the biggest reason why the startups cannot flourish lies in the corporate culture of Turkish businesses. The biggest companies don’t give startups any chances. They will not buy their products or solutions and they will not buy any services from startups. Furthermore, if there is a successful start-up, bigger companies will simply try to duplicate the startup. Almost all of the major holdings in Turkey have their own IT companies who serve them. So there goes 80 percent of your total Turkish market.
Unless CEOs and owners of large Turkish companies realize that whet they are doing is wrong and not beneficial to them and the country, we will never see a Turkish startup going international.