On June 20, 2014, Ziya Boyacıgiller passed away. I wanted to write about him, as he was not just an entrepreneur but a role model to many people. I believe that we Turkish people tend not to take time to remember those who contributed to our society in a positive manner.
As it is written on his memorial website, he was a respected mentor and an angel investor to many entrepreneurs in Turkey, between the years of 2003 and 2014.
He impacted the lives of many young entrepreneurs and start-ups through his classes at Sabancı University, his numerous presentations, his blog and his continued generous mentoring. He was also a frequently-invited speaker and an industry thought leader.
He was one of the founders of the technology giant Maxim in the U.S. and Airties in Turkey, along with numerous other successful investments. Last year Maxim’s revenue was $2.45 billion.
I had the chance to get to know him through a long interview in which I was amazed by his humbleness and willingness to give. He wanted to give his money and know-how to any entrepreneur that he believed wanted to add value to the world. He wanted to pass on his knowledge. That’s why he took part in the Galata Business Angels and Endeavor along with his personal interests. This earned him the social status of being an Abi (brother). People began to call him Ziya Abi, as they saw him as part of their family, a person who was always ready to help out.
Everybody is talking about a national mobile phone brand, a national chip and a national this and that, but nothing is being done. The entire cabinet has talked about a national car, a national PC, etc. Yet we see no results.
Years before, in complete silence, Ziya Abi invested in a company called Airties and it has become our national pride. Airties has become a household name in many countries in the wireless technologies field.
How did he manage to do this? How could he manage to be one of the founders of a multibillion dollar firm in the U.S. and a local firm who played along with the biggest companies like Motorola, globally in a single life time, without ever mingling in politics and taking any money from any government?
That’s what we all should learn about.
I hope that our politicians will read about his life. I hope that they will see that if you have the knowledge, if you have the skills, if you know what you want to do and where you want to go, if you are honest to yourself and if you surround yourself with qualified people, you don’t have to raise your voice. You can lead by being as graceful as Ziya Abi.