I am always having fun asking directions in Turkiye. The same goes for Iran by the way as my friend Amirreza confirmed me. Some time ago I had to go from the coast in Ortakoy up to a compound, about 2 km walking. I used Google maps, but the last part was confusing so I had to ask the inevitable question to my local Turkish friends. Nerde or, in English, where? I showed the map and gave the name. Of course I look everything but a Turk and my Turkish is very little. The guy looks, thinks, and asks a by-passer if he knows and before you know, 5 people around me gesticulating towards all directions. In the end I thought I understood the majority was agreeing on one direction so I followed and arrived. I learned that on average you need to ask 5 times for 3 streets. That is average.
In 2016 we will celebrate 3 years of activities for Stage-Co and 2 years of CoderDojo Turkiye. With Stage-Co we organised over 40 events, including hackathons, Startup Weekends, #Unconference (a format we created here), pitches, going abroad with startups, regular meetups. You name it. We’ve met a lot of people and learned a lot. We started a second initiative as we saw a need for this. Stage-Co Masters kicked off with some try outs like “Mentorship Training”, “Capsules” (short workshop trainings of 3 hours) and “I Can”, a whole day workshop training on a specific topic. Our audience are startups, mentors to be, and investors. For the Mentorship Training we created the first program in Turkiye and probably Europe as I could not find any other example. We also lost a lot of time with so called ‘partners’. At the same time we had good input from people but at the end a year went by.
The more you work with people in the startup ecosystem the more you understand where the needs are and where the hurdles are. The needs are know by most people here in Turkiye. Startups are very young and unexperienced, no seed investment, no follow up investment after VC etc. All the known problems of a young and growing ecosystem. We need to go through these pains like I experienced them in Western Europe. Maybe you don’t know but in Turkiye we like to complain so that activity is probably the best developed for the moment :-). But at the end professional mentorship is for me one of the corner stones, and also one of the missing ones. Not that we miss on experienced people. What we lack is more mentors with the right attitude and less the ones with the title of this blog approach.
I am very fortunate to work with young people who for the moment are my biggest drive. Enis Hulli is one of them. He started FirstSeed with some friends and is now active in 500Startups Turkiye together with Erhan Erdogan. He is very lucky. Erhan I mean. What I love most in Enis is his attitude. Always prepared to learn, always prepared to help. This is also what I see as one of the biggest hurdles in the Turkish startup scene. Attitude. If we need to work on one thing it is the lack of a positive, engaging attitude. This goes for all stakeholders. Specifically for mentors I see the need of a change here. Empathy is for me the most important one but is also missing out the most. Too much testosterone and second agendas stand in the way of good mentorship, a must for the ecosystem to become successful. Also the lack of collaboration is disturbing me. Rather reinvent with their name on it instead of reaching out and collaborate. We need a next generation to get rid of that. I saw the same in Belgium. The bosses old style need to retire first. That is why it takes time.
Carlsberg was the brand that came up with the slogan “Probably the best beer of the world”. It was heavily discussed when it started the campaign but I loved it from the start. It has a positive attitude, a funny note, and it gets your attention. Let’s hope the title of this blog has the same effect!
The woodcut of Albrecht Dürer might surprise you as an illustration. You probably preferred the Carlsberg from below. As a former photographer it was interesting to learn during my art school period, that realism wanted to paint as if it was reality. Therefor the camera obscura was invented as illustrated. Once they could capture the image, there was no need to paint anymore. So no need of the realistic painters and the birth of photography, an new art form and today a memory capture device. Technology replaced old by new. I am hopeful we will experience the same evolution in our region. Technology helping us forward. With the right attitude.