GEP plays key role for investors of the future
ANKARATOBB launched the Turkish leg of the Global Entrepreneurship Program (GEP) in 2011 together with the U.S. Department of State and the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV).
The objective of GEP Turkey is to promote the growth of entrepreneurship in Turkey by working with partners from the private sector, civil society, and the government. Over the past year it has participated directly and indirectly in several activities to encourage entrepreneurship in the country.
From May 29 to June 2, TOBB brought a GEP Entrepreneurship Delegation (EDEL) to Turkey, comprised of leading U.S. entrepreneurs and early-stage investors. The U.S. delegates had combined venture investments totaling $50 billion across hundreds of companies, in a variety of sectors including biotech, agribusiness, alternative energy, e-commerce and pharmaceuticals. EDEL was the flagship initiative of the GEP that brought together members from the Turkish and American entrepreneurial ecosystems.
As Emre Kurttepeli, a board member of the Turkish Venture Capital Industry Council and TOBB’s Young Entrepreneurs Council, has said, “This delegation sets a benchmark for events on entrepreneurship in Turkey.” The EDEL served as a platform to bring together budding entrepreneurs, seasoned Turkish entrepreneurs and investors, and American investors. The different players within the ecosystem were not just introduced to one another, but also to other players within their respective fields.
Support by universities
The centerpiece of the EDEL was the business plan competition, the “Showcase of Turkey’s Best-of-the-Best Entrepreneurs.” The competition’s semifinalists were chosen from almost 200 nominations submitted by more than 30 organizations, including Endeavor, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Enterprise Forum, Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ), Bilkent University, and Özyeğin University. The startups competed along two tracks: early stage and growth-stage.
“Two years ago, we would have had only clone companies and e-commerce companies. For the first time, we saw entries from a great variety of industries,” said Sina Afra, vice president of TOBB Venture Capital, emphasizing the increasing awareness among entrepreneurs that EDEL enocuraged.
Saad Khan, a partner in CMEA Capital, has emphasized the advanced technical skills Turkish entrepreneurs have to offer. “I think the local technical talent stands up to any of their colleagues at MIT, Stanford or Carnegie Mellon. It’s absolutely cutting edge… That was very surprising, and was not what I expected at all.”