It’s hot in Istanbul. It’s hot all over Turkiye. And it should be as it is summer. And I love it. We even took some time off to prepare the next steps with Stage-Co. We combined it with pleasure and fun, but is was hard not to be thinking about it. Walking through the streets of Istanbul I am regularly passed by very expensive sportive cars. Due to the traffic all this horsepower is as unused as the expensive Japanese knifes in fancy kitchens of the well off upper middle class. So all they can do is getting in 1st gear and make that engine going loud at 30km/hour. Totally ridiculous.
I don’t hide that I am totally not into cars, more of a motorbike type, that runs smoothly and swiftly. No Harley or Goldwing. Thank you.
Running around the country, Istanbul is of course a unique case in many ways. Also in terms of startups. We have in Istanbul around 12 Angel Networks, some VC’s, 1 international accelerator. Turkiye is at the beginning of the startup adventure, so in that way not too bad. The only thing that we miss are successful startups. A weekly complaint in many boardrooms of investors and fancy restaurants and bars alongside the Bosphorus. Personally I see more potential in Izmir, Ankara, Bursa and other cities, but they lack investors. In the meantime we are trilled by the acquisition of Yemeksepeti.com who build for 15 years on it’s success and was no startup anymore. Looks like it is the best we have for the moment. On a side note it must be said that the CEO, Nevzat Aydin, did an interesting move by distributing $27 million among his coworkers as a bonus. I don’t hear to much about that, as most investors shiver by the idea of sharing profit. Turkiye is always special, believe me.
This brings me back to the Ferrari, in a by traffic jam killed street. Istanbul is a spoiled environment and it reflects also to the startup ecosystem. It is about quick-wins, marketplaces and glory. Very seldom about innovation, sustainability or long term strategy. Startups are here, in Istanbul, in the wrong context like the Ferrari in an always jammed traffic. I have been advocating that places like Izmir have a much bigger potential. Life is much cheaper (1/3), more potential thanks to great universities and most of all, aspiration. Look at the Balkan countries. There startups are innovatitive and hardworking. Most of all to get away from an environment that is not as luxury as for example Istanbul. A great startup is Prezi, that started in Budapest, Hungary. They finally created a presentation tool that made sense to forget boring Powerpoint. Recently they collected in a round $15 million that they still didn’t touch, and in their stream other followed like Ustream, LogMeIn, NNG, and together they launched Bridge Budapest an NGO to promote entrepreneurship. BAM. The founders didn’t pay themselves for 18 months and they finished the product first before going to investors. In Istanbul the main focus of the startup is to get TL100.000 from Tubitak, a government grant organisation, and enjoy their çay (local tea) watching their dream cars passing by in slow motion. This sounds harsh maybe and off course we have exceptions too. But let’s work on making this the normal and also consider other towns in Turkiye dear investors. You can find me in Izmir, where we started a pre-accelerator with a seed fund we will establish together with Depark and Dokuz Eylül University. You know where to find me :-D