Our startup ecosystem needs a reboot

Our startup ecosystem needs a reboot

I consider myself as one of the people who is at the center of the Turkish startup ecosystem. I have access to many founders, non-governmental organizations and investors of all shapes and sizes. I have to say that what I am observing is that the startup ecosystem is in a dying state.

The startup ecosystem consists of many stakeholders. Banks, founders, angel investors, technoparks, angel investor networks, venture capital firms, mentors, accelerators, large companies, state authorities and government have a part to play.

When I talk to representatives of each group all I hear is complaints about the other stakeholders.

Investors complain about the founders because they think very locally or they are lazy, or they don’t know how to run their businesses properly. They complain because there is no hope for the vast majority of the startups of any kind of exit. They feel that their money is lost because they betted on startups.

Founders complain about investors because they are very arrogant, because they don’t give the support that they had promised, because they have unrealistic expectations, because they want unfair profits compared to what they bring to the table.

Founders complain about mentors because they feel that there are too many experts who are not experts at all. They think that people are using the title “mentor” just to create buzz around themselves and to market themselves for personal gains.

Founders and investors both complain about banks because they are absolutely not startup friendly even though they advertise themselves to be. I hear more stories of startups going bankrupt because the banks that were used to give easy credit are pulling every last liras out. Any startup that is facing a crisis in cash flow management, which is around 99 percent, is facing hard choices these days.

The problem of cash flow management brings us to corporations and the state institutions. The corporations are similar to banks, in every event they claim to be very startup friendly, but when you ask founders, you hear stories that would make you vomit. Large corporations who steal ideas form startups or steal technical expertise, or even team members, are commonplace. There are stories of large corporations who don’t pay their debts, thus bankrupting startups or stalling startups with the promise to buy their products if they would do such and such, just to refuse them months later. Wasting the startups time and money is also very common.

I feel that a reboot of the Turkish startup ecosystem is a must. The stakeholders should come together and really discuss the issues that I have mentioned along with many others that I did not have the space to write about, to come to some conclusions.

Otherwise, I am afraid that we will lose our momentum altogether.

Ersu Ablak, Turkish economy,