Following decades of living in between Tokyo and New York and working at investment banks, I decided to move to Istanbul in 2010 to cultivate entrepreneurship and venture investments. The city, Turkey’s financial center, had started to emerge as a hub for tech startups, particularly in the e-commerce sector. Yet, there were no institutional investors – there was no Turkish venture capital.
Not long after I had landed in Istanbul did Kleiner Perkins, one of Silicon Valley’s top venture capital firms, invest along with Tiger Global a combined $26 million in Trendyol, a Turkish version of Gilt Group. In a separate deal, eBay purchased local company GittiGidiyor.com for over $200 million. Indeed, the ease with which my partners and I set up our firm, 212, and raised our first fund of $30 million confirmed my supposition that investing in Turkey had promise.