It’s May. In addition to shedding the winter slumber (and pounds – no more baklava), we’re shedding old mindsets. Souq and Careem have helped. The headline deals that both companies have made earlier this year are injecting tremendous excitement into the MENA startup ecosystem. We’re also keeping our eyes on all things fintech, which continues to be a rapidly changing landscape. As we start to countdown to our timeout on the beach, we’re ever more eager to see what the summer holds for MENA – and the Balkans, which we take a look at this month.
by Fevzi M. TOKSOY, PhD EU Law, Partner at ACTECON
The suspension of Booking.com’s services in Turkey has been seen as an attack on individuals’ online freedom and digital entrepreneurship as a whole. Such claims seem to be inaccurate because undertakings, irrespective of their legal form, location and mode of operation (digital/ ‘traditional’), are equally subject to, among others, (i) competition law; (ii) the respective regulatory framework, and (iii) rules on (un)fair competition. If an undertaking is found to be in violation of any of these, then naturally respective measures shall be taken by the state to deal with the consequences of the infringement. The case of Booking.com should be seen from this perspective. Access to the website has been restricted temporarily by the Turkish court on the grounds of unfair competition, and technically, the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) has implemented the order of the court. At the same time, these decisions are part of an increasing pattern whereby conflicts between regulated business and digital networking platforms in many different industries are playing out in the legal and regulatory arenas. Booking.com is a typical example. Others include Uber, Airbnb, and PayPal. Let’s examine the Booking.com situation.
Reflections of a Turkish VC, seven years on
In my last post, I reflected on trust and the pioneers of the Turkish startup ecosystem. Here are a few more “lessons” I’ve taken away in my seven years as a Turkish VC.
Resilience. When the unexpected is the norm, resilience becomes second nature. Silicon Valley may brag about innovation and failure, but Turks and those of us in the MENA region own resilience and the “pivot.”
We’re a quarter of the way through 2017. And while all seems topsy-turvy (Trump), things continue to push forward in the startup world, particularly in MENA. We’ve been eyeing the takeover of Souq.com, the growth of new funds, and rising stars, such as Trendyol founder and CEO Demet Mutlu. She was named one of Europe’s most inspiring entrepreneurs. We agree.
Seven years ago, I boarded a plane at JFK bound for Istanbul. In 2010, in the wake of the global financial crisis, moving to Turkey didn’t seem like the wisest decision. Emerging markets, most pundits predicted, would shrink.
Imagine, then, trying to start a venture capital fund. I left many people wincing. “Numan will be back,” a few friends in New York said.
Seven years on, we’re going strong. A few weeks ago, I paused to trace that journey. I re-read some of the things that I’ve shared on this blog. Here are a few points that leapt out at me; points that made all the difference on that journey.
As it matures, we’re seeing the importance of e-commerce beyond the click. This month we take a look at how the online phenomenon is impacting payments, mergers and acquisitions, and scale. Spoiler: A LOT.
The pounding heart of tech in the region
by Karim Hussein
Egypt has been buzzing with entrepreneurial activity in recent years with ever expanding new businesses and a rich set of supporting institutions and communities. Egypt offers some unique opportunities within the region driven by a large online consumer population, a highly competitive core technology talent pool, a large untapped opportunity in financial services for an under-banked population and rapidly expanding energy demands driving the need for clean technology.
Egypt’s entrepreneurial ecosystem enjoyed some early government support in the last 10 years through several government financed technology funds and government sponsored incubation programs. Since the 2011 revolution, these have been significantly augmented by a growing ecosystem of private startup events, accelerators, incubators, angel networks, venture capital funds and community enablers. There are now over 20 accelerators/incubators, two significant angel networks in Cairo and Alexandria, several local and regional VC funds (with over $70 million in committed capital in the last couple of years), regular startup events throughout the country and an annual regional and international startup summit bringing together emerging businesses, investors, support services and most importantly eager young talent looking for exceptional opportunities.
In Turkey: Series C rounds / VC growth 10x
Turkey dominates world headlines, not necessarily for the best reasons. And, yet, good reasons exist. Lots of good reasons. Turkish startups continue to raise money. Inflows into Turkish stocks are on the rise. This isn’t just Pollyannaish, wishful thinking. Startups keep pushing things forward in Turkey. Total whiplash
Insider, a digital experience delivery platform for marketers, secured investment from 500 Startups to fuel its global expansion.
500 Startups is a leading global Venture Capital and Start-up Accelerator with investments in more than 1,600 start-ups in more than 60 countries.
As an innovative marketing platform at the junction of ad-tech and mar-tech, Insider provides predictive modelling and segmentation services to world’s leading brands such as Singapore Airlines, UNIQLO, New Balance, Toyota and Lenovo.
Having over 130 employees and offices in Tokyo, Singapore, London, Dubai, Moscow, Warsaw, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Istanbul, the Company is planning to use the funding to support its expansion into 17 countries by the end of the year.
Innovation has been, without question, one factor behind the excitement about entrepreneurship worldwide. From the microchip to the iPhone, the personal computer to virtual reality, new technologies have pushed progressed forward – and transformed our lives.
Among the biggest transformation: social mobility. Millions across the globe have moved out of poverty into the middle class. That is certainly true in Turkey and its surrounding region.
The biggest impact of the middle class? Spending.
The middle class has fueled growth in consumer products, in services, on the Internet – and, most importantly, in payments.
How people pay for goods and services has created the hottest startup opportunities.