Discovering Turkish culture again with Turcopedia style
Cansu Çamlıbel ISTANBUL / Hürriyet
The website has three partners, Antoine Rolin (L to R) Gregoire d’Oultremont and Tolga Tuna.Antoine Rolin and Gregoire d’Oultremont are the two Belgian men living in Istanbul that are behind the encyclopedia-like website Turcopedia. The website has interesting, surprising and entertaining popular culture facts inspired by Turkey.
Before Turcopedia, the men worked in different companies and in different countries. Rolin came to Turkey and found himself brokering relations between craftsmen and shopkeepers. Eventually, he decided to settle in Istanbul. Rolin convinced his friend d’Oultremont to move to Istanbul to establish an investment consultancy firm. Instead, they entered the Istanbul social scene.
It is a common feeling that Turkey is the dust of an ancient empire, the backyard of Europe, the outskirts of the Arab world, the beaches of Antalya or simply the homeland of Döner kebab. However, Turcopedia shows that Turkey is more than what people think. Turkey’s influence will always be a source of global inspiration.
Soon after settling in Istanbul, the two men realized there was very limited information about Turkey available to foreigners, so they launched Turcopedia. Rolin and d’Oultremont are sure that with Turcopedia, people will find countless examples of inspirational stories and a cultural resource to better discover Turkey.
The website’s aim is to help travelers discover Turkey. They never want Turcopedia to focus on politics, they said – the site is strictly focused on pop culture.
While launching the site, they met Tolga Tuna from Endeavor Turkey, who eventually joined their venture. “Our main aim is not to reap a profit from this site. The aim is to reach as many people as we can,” Tuna said.
The website has been up for two months and has already gained 6,000 Facebook followers. Half of the followers are from Turkey and the rest are from abroad.
The men realize that if they want to earn money from this business, they would have to work with agencies. “However, we want Turcopedia to be a free and stylish site,” Rolin said.
The most exciting thing about the cultural and social scene of Istanbul, the Turcopedia founders said, is that it was still emerging and attractive. To keep up with it, they are meeting with Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Art (İKSV) and Pozitif to pursue new initiatives.
“Many foreigners ask us how we know so much about Turkey. Sometimes travelers ask how we can see the country through such a different perspective,” Rolin said. It is because people see the countries in which they live differently from the ones they visit, he said. “It is true that we have a different perspective.”
A foreigner’s eye is like that of a baby, he said. “We want to reflect what that eye sees in the website.”
The site opens the global codes of the popular culture, Rolin said. The site’s logo is a turkey and the motto is “Like a Turk.”
Once you have Turkey in your blood, it becomes an infection; you cannot get away and it inspires you over time, Rolin said.