The startup environment gives room for hope
Spending a day in southern Antalya was enough to understand the startup environment in Turkey.
Startup Turkey, supported by Istanbul Technical University, in Antalya is one of the biggest internet meetings in this geography.
It has been organized by Etohum, a platform bringing together entrepreneurs who want to start their own internet companies with investors, for the past eight years.
Its founder, Burak Büyükdemir, is a real expert on the “new economy” in the true sense of the word and the first name that comes to mind when one things of e-business in Turkey.
He said only 50 people participated in the Startup Turkey event he organized in Antalya eight years ago and now they succeeded in bringing together 700 participants and more than 150 investors from all over the world in this attractive city to the Turkish tourism sector.
Foreign entrepreneurs from Brazil to Indonesia, Pakistan and Iran came to Antalya.
Adding that the ratio of foreign participants was 35 percent, Büyükdemir said countries in the region are paying close attention to the startup initiatives in Turkey.
“Iran is for instance a country that closely watches us. The Internet entrepreneurs of this country want to surpass us by imitating all our models successfully,” he said.
Those from Turkey who invest in startups in the country or outside stop by Antalya at least once.
In fact, Şevmet Başev, the CEO of 3 Seas Capital Partners and whom I ran into on my way back from Antalya, said he never misses the event.
Having an expertise on joint ventures, Başev has been investing in startup companies for some time.
“You see that the startup environment is inspiring hope when you come to Antalya,” he said.
Hasan Aslanoba, who invested in around 40 startups after having sold Bursa-originated Ereklisu to Nestle Waters, was another investor visiting Antalya.
Büyükdemir explained how Aslanoba has undertaken an investment of $10 million in startups since his first visit to Antalya.
I also ran into Yemeksepeti CEO Nevzat Aydın, the person who signed the biggest sale contract in Turkey’s Internet ecosystem, on a stage together with young entrepreneurs who were debating their ideas.
A member of the jury evaluating new ideas, Aydın sold Yemeksepeti to Delivery Hero last year for $589 million.
Aydın made it to the front pages after he distributed $27 million from that sale to the employees of Yemeksepeti.
If one has to recall, prior to that sale, the previous record belonged to shopping site GittiGidiyor, which was sold to eBay for $217.5 million.
Another example of a successful startup from Turkey is Hepsiburada, which sold 25 percent of its shares to the Abraaj Group.
It is no doubt good news that in the midst of all the negative developments in Turkey, startups are the locomotive of the new economy, to the point of inspiring regional countries.
The contribution of techno-cities in universities, which keep growing in number, in addition to platforms like Etohum is great for the development of this environment.