You need to believe you are good at something. So I started an Accelerator Program!
There are 2 contradictory proverbs that have always haunted me throughout my life although more in my dark hair period than in my white one. High trees capture a lot of wind and will be chopped and do not jump in the water when all others do. Rather directly translated from Flemish. The first says, just follow the crowd and the other, do not stand out as you will fall, fail or whatever negative. The result is that I always did the opposite. Sometimes successful, sometimes with failure but always fun as I liked the challenges a lot and the road to success or failure are almost equal with a different ending.
In a previous blog post, I wrote about the WHY I want to start a startup acceleration program. Thanks to the interaction with the many partners and mentors we have on board now the story became more clear than ever. What I didn’t want to push forward too much are the underlying SDGs. I do not want to push this as such in the announcement as for me it is normal. I have mainly a problem if the claim of social entrepreneurship tries to claim the SDGs although there is a huge contradiction. Entrepreneurship is about building a company that makes a profit and can in that way continue to exist and grow. The fancy word here is sustainability. Social most of the time means rather having a positive impact on society. That is why we have now the impact economy and impact investors. The word social is here not used as a specific value but a more holistic approach came out. Social should rather be used for what NGOs or Cooperatives do, depending on donations and grants creating a positive impact where making money is not possible or even not desired. So let’s focus on positive impact startups.
For the first cohort, we will use positive discrimination, refugee and female founders first but not exclusive. The region we target is East Africa, Central Asia and Balkan countries. We start with online but in the future, there will be also an in-person program in the different locations. Think of a “train the trainer” approach.
I aim 3 target groups:
- early-stage startups
- high schools (more educational approach)
- corporates for intrapreneurship
Mentors are only domain specialists, networkers and startups who went through at least 1 round of investment (peer learning). Our Strategic Partners help me in spreading the word and selecting the teams. We also have Content Partners and of course the Investors where we claim to reach over 100 investors. I will write a separate blog post on that topic.
Modesty does not pay the bills is anther proverb as well as the poisonous of false modesty. Despite all the experience I have and the team around me I was always looking around for founding partners before starting this program. I couldn’t find them and the result was that I waited. 5 years. Two events made me finally decide I had to start myself no matter what. At New Year 2020 I got flowers of the startup team Car4Future for my help and meeting Atakan Atalar, founder Atanova Ventures and co-founder Withco. Meeting Atakan was the last kick in the bud, contrary to nip in the bud, to convince myself that I had to do it. No more waiting but action, even despite the virus and economic hardship we can see in front of us. It opened the way to involving many friends and great people I met in the last 7 years.
I am good at this. I can do this. Although you know that for yourself, doubts are a daily antidote, the sum is positive and that is the moment you choose in your life. When I came to Türkiye I didn’t want the load of the founder anymore, done that enough, but I guess entrepreneurship is a call that I can not resist. Luckily I am not alone. I have very strong partners like my wife/partner Neşen Yuçel and the amazing Pelin Yıldız among many others. Alone is for artists today. The team is the strength and the assurance of continuation. No idea where this road is leading too, although I have my dreams. I started the engine and my bike is on a road, driving and not standing still in the box. Inşallah.
Applications are open now, so go to the website. We start with the first cohort on June 2nd! You can also find in the site all the partners and mentors with regular updates as it grows daily.
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