The startup scene is growing in Turkiye yavas yavas (slowly, slowly)
Working has never been more fun in Istanbul than in the last weeks. I am very fortunate to be able to choose where I work, like any other free-lancer or consultant. Working at home was never my choice and I hear this more and more around me. Working at Starbucks or other cafes is nice for a start but you get bored with the music, the blabla and constant distractions around…
Almost 2 years ago Yazane started with a true coworking space and it was a relief to work there. We even started CoderDojo Turkiye in Yazane. Kerim Harunoğlu welcomed us with open arms in a true coworking spirit. We had to survive the long inactivity in the market with Gezi protests and a never-ending summer. Today they doubled the space and they have a nice bunch of free-lancers and small companies residing. Urban Station was also opening in Istanbul but like Regus they offer workspace but without really creating a coworking fabric. Then followed Atolye Istanbul, who are now well established in their temporary coworking space before moving to the Bomonti site, we had more initiatives like Le Büroand Koç University Incubator. Actually most universities start to offer spaces in their incubators, one more flexible then the other. The last in the list to my knowledge isKolektif House who also have the true coworking spirit with 3 enthusiast co-founders. All this is great news for the startups in Istanbul. In other cities I hear similar initiatives have started. In Izmir, at Ege University, I am even involved in the ideEGE project that will hopefully become the landmark we are aiming for.
Despite this good news we also need to see and acknowledge another reality. We have not a great number of startups today and we sure have not enough spaces for them. When I compare this with San Francisco, or Berlin’s startup alley we are truly at the start of what we can call a startup scene, a maker scene or whatever scene that is based on creativity, innovation and sustainable young companies. We are still lacking the spirit and vision to go forward and play with the true disruptors. San Francisco’s population in 2013 was less than 900.000. Today the city has over 40 coworking spaces with almost as many incubation and acceleration programs running. No need to make the comparison with Istanbul with over 15 million people. Last year I was part of the 1st international accelerator Startupbootcamp. Until now still the only one. We ended last year with 6 Angel Networks, and minor investments. Avoiding a negative tone I will not mention the number of investments. We are at the start and we need all the positivism we can gather.
Taking the US as an example is of course an easy one in this case I hear you saying. True. So let us take France. I worked there and I believe me, the startup scene has been struggling there for years too. But people make the difference. Loic Le Meur and his wife Geraldine made LeWebsuccessful in France and now they have Xavier Niel. The man has an interesting CV but most of all a vision. After being successful as an entrepreneur he started Kima Ventures in 2014 and funded over 200 startups and counting. Funding is of course in a way the easiest thing to do. The only problem is that you are not really helping from a structural point of view. So he started a school called 42 that is “not organised as a school” for 1000 students and in 2016 the project 1000 start-ups kicks off. The biggest coworking space in the world. All of these are private initiatives.
The best news is that we are just starting and I feel very fortunate to be part of this start. Stage-Co Platform and Stage-Co Masters are small initiatives in a big country but with many of these we can make a difference. Little detail. The French example is all in the French lanuage. Maybe a trick to keep them in France and not seeing them flee away to the States ☺
Happy 2015 and let’s kick a**!