1,000 int’l CEOs meet at Startup Istanbul
Ahmet Can - ISTANBULIstanbul has the potential to become a hub not only for big established companies but also new businesses, Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) Chair Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu has said, addressing the final day of the Startup Istanbul event.
“Not only big companies, but also startups could find reasons to come to Istanbul,” Hisarcıklıoğlu said on Oct. 10 at the event, organized jointly by the TOBB and leading entrepreneurship group, E-tohum.
“Istanbul is already the regional center of many multinational companies, has a unique geographical location, and can also offer high living standards for its non-Turkish citizens,” he added, noting that the value of foreign direct investment stock in Istanbul currently exceeded $170 billion. Istanbul has high-quality research universities, well-functioning incubation centers, and advanced mobile and Internet services, Hisarcıklıoğlu added.
Applications to attend the event at the Istanbul Technical University were made from 135 countries, with some 1,000 entrepreneurs chosen from 63 countries following an assessment process.
Hanzade Doğan Boyner: A good year of investments
“I know that around 80 percent of our guests are visiting Istanbul for the first time. That shows the success of this conference,” he added.
Also addressing the audience, Doğan Online Founder and Chair Hanzade Doğan Boyner said her company “believes in the dynamism of our country.”
“We know that innovation usually happens from startups,” she said.
“That is why we want to be connecting with entrepreneurial ecosystem around the region. We are connected with research and development centers of universities. We also want students and R&D centers to think together with us,” she said calling for growing the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Noting that 2016 has been a very important year for the company, she said it had accelerated investments, particularly pointing out the 150 million Turkish Liras invested in retail website Hepsiburada.com, which she described as “an engine to drive the digitization of Turkish retail.”
“A very important initiative we have launched is Hepsipay. This is a payment company that enables retailers who want to go digital to collect payments within one day. With Hepsipay,
merchants can access attractive bank campaigns, different instalment options, and a sophisticated anti-fraud tool that will minimize their charge back risk,” Doğan Boyner said.
“E-commerce is a complex business model with low margins, and it is heavily capex incentive. But this doesn’t keep me awake at night, because we have been around for more than a decade. We have a proven business model, sustainable growth track record and profitability. What really keeps me and our team awake at night is issues related to customer service.”
Pegasus Chair Ali Sabancı, Sam Mallikarjunan from Hubstop, author Elmira Bayrasli, Ozan Sönmez from Tjump, Couchsurfing.com CEO Casey Fenton, Michael Anderson from Executive Joy, Andrew Romans from Rubicon VC, IBM Cloud Vice Chair Maged Wassim, “The Lean Brand” author Jeremiah Gardner, Bill Kenney from Test my Pitch, Adora Cheung from Y Combinator, Andreessen Horowitz partner Matt Spence, 500 Startups partner Arjun Arora, “Startup Rising” author Christopher Schroeder, Google Partner Lead - VCs and Startups Sharif El-Badawi were among the participants.