Now Sprint! Accelerator kicked-off with amazing partners and mentors!
It would take too much time and space to highlight every partner and mentor although I wished I could as all are as important. On the other hand, the startup teams want to know who are the investors as they want to hear numbers, money numbers. Quite understandable as they want to spend their precious time in the best way possible with the highest return, finding an investor. I would rather advise them first to get the product/market fit right, full validation and tested MVP. Sounds a bit boring off course but that is the reality we experience every day.
The first partner I want to highlight is TRAngels as they are the biggest Angels network we have as a partner but also the biggest in Türkiye in number of members. About 5 years ago we saw a big boom in Angel Networks in Türkiye. Now that the dust has settled we see only a few of them active and growing. To my own surprise, being full-time active since 2013 in Türkiye in the startup ecosystem, I only heard of TRAngels years later. Communication and branding was never their key activity and I hope that will change now that Atakan Atalar, who became a partner, is now responsible for getting TRAngels on the billboards. No better way to know who TRAngels is than to talk to one of the co-founders, so I had a talk with Namık Kural, who I met for the first time a couple of years ago in Ankara.
Namık has all the good universities on his cv, namely ODTU and Boğazici University and no surprise that as a computer engineer he started right away in the big companies. He went through Arcelik and Koç Holding in ever-increasing responsibilities and to his own surprise ended up creating his own company with ex-coworkers. They were very successful and one spinoff, Mackolik, did very good and sold to Perform Group in 2012. After also selling the core company Namık was ready for his next adventure. After reading an article about Mehmet Buldurgan he got interested in the Angels investment world. They came together, even knew each other from high school, and they tried a collaboration within the company of Mehmet, “Sirket Ortağım” as you can see by the spelling, a very Turkish company and translates in “My Company Partner”. As often happens, the collaboration didn’t bear fruit, so Namık and his friends started their own Angel Investment company, TRAngels. TR stands here for Türkiye, kicked off in September 2014 with around 8 partners, a core team of 36 persons and 1.8 million TL on the bank to invest. That is quite impressive as a start.
One of the interesting aspects of the way they are organised is the search for balance and equality. TRAngels consists of 2 organisations, TRAngels Inc. organised as a company where all shareholders can not have more than 2 percent. Namık often gets the remark they are organized in a socialistic way, I was more thinking of the farmer collectives. This gives everyone the same rights. The second part is the Angel Network “Yatırımcılar Grubu”. Once you have your accreditation through the government you can join, or as an angel investor. So the Inc. can invest with or without the Angel members. In the meantime, they raised the capital in 2019 with 1.35 million TL and realized a small exit of 1 million TL. TRAngels has grown quickly with today 51 shareholders and 78 private Angel investors. They have a very low overhead cost, only 1 halftime, and operate from within ITÜ University in Istanbul closely connected to İTÜ Çekirdek, the incubation center. Çekirdek means seed and is also the preferred eating activity for Turkish people on a terrace or at the sea, sunflower seeds or Ay Çekirdek, with a special technique. And amazingly fast.
TRAngels is not specifically aiming at verticals, but early-stage startups with special attention to the team. There are weekly screenings on Wednesday with an average of 5 presentations each time and around monthly investment committees. For the Inc. partners, the rules are quite strict to invest, there needs to be a minimum number of partners present and 75% need to agree. So you can call this a very horizontal decision tree. Once the decision is taken, 2 lead investors are assigned. No wonder that their portfolio is doing very good with an actual 20 to 25 million TL valuation for 15 investments, 5 in the US and 10 in Türkiye.
TRAngels started with mainly ex-corporate partners but is now attracting younger partners with different backgrounds, changing the dynamics of the organisation. There is definitely more attention to see things more international and of course, a needed increase in the number of investments as the valuation is mostly carried by 1 or 2 outperformers.
We are very happy to partner with TRAngels in Now Sprint! Accelerator and we hope that together we can achieve our goals and increase the number of successful entrepreneurs in the region!