Startups, investments, & role of the government

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.

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Solvoyo Cited Among the Best SaaS Cloud Service Companies in Europe by the Euro Cloud Congress

Oct 1, 2014: The Euro Cloud Congress, the premier gathering of the European cloud industry recognized Solvoyo as one of the best SaaS (software-as-a-service) services in the market.

According to Bernd Becker, President of Euro Cloud, “it is without question that Europe is very much dependent on the creativity of start-up companies such as Solvoyo who are bringing innovative future shaping cloud services to the European and international market.”

Taking the award on behalf of Solvoyo, Nilufer Durak, COO, commented “we are proud to be recognized as a company not just because we bring cool technology through the cloud but also because we create significant value for our customers. Euro Cloud plays an important role in showcasing companies like us throughout Europe.”

 

About Solvoyo

Solvoyo is an international enterprise software company based in Boston, MA, and Istanbul, Turkey. Solvoyo provide strategic, tactical, and operational supply chain planning in one platform giving companies the most comprehensive tool to maximize profits while minimizing costs.

Solvoyo is unique in being able to plan inventory, orders, and transportation concurrently. By optimizing across companies’ entire network, as opposed to individual silos, Solvoyo helps get business results and benefits that are multiples of traditional solutions.

 

About the Euro Cloud Congress and the Euro Cloud Award

The Euro Cloud Congress is an umbrella organization bringing together the leaders of the European cloud industry every year to further the cause of cloud adoption in 21 member countries. The Euro Cloud Awards recognizes the best European cloud service providers – winners of the national Euro Cloud awards in their respective countries.

Türkiye’deki İnternet Ekosistemine Bakış

 

Son günlerde konferanslarda veya toplantılarda devamlı olarak içinde bulunduğumuz ortamın kötüye gittiği, Türkiye’den başarılı bir girişimin çıkamayacağı ve bir zamanlar çok gözde olan e-ticaretin ticaret sektörünün bile hedeflenen noktaya ulaşamadan batacağı gibi yorumlar alıyorum ve arkasından da benim düşüncelerimi soruyorlar.

Her defasında bu işin bir kısa mesafe koşusu olmadığını, bir maraton olduğunu söylüyorum ve daha maratonun başında olduğumuzu hatırlatıyorum.

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İsrail’den girişimcilik adına ne öğrenebiliriz?

Ussal Şahbaz, Ankara merkezli bir düşünce kuruluşu olan Türkiye Ekonomi Politikaları Araştırma Vakfı’nda (TEPAV) girişimcilik çalışmalarını koordine etmektedir. 212 Blog’da konuk olan Ussal’ın yazılarını TEPAV Günlük‘te takip edebilirsiniz.

Geçen sene Ekim ayında 212 ekibiyle beraber İsrail’de DLD konferansına katıldık.  DLD (Digital Life Design) her sene Munih ve Tel-Aviv’de yapılan bir konferans. Munich’tekine gitmek kısmet olmadı ama iki DLD birbirinden çok farklı. İsrail’deki DLD, Alman ciddiyetinden çok uzak, şortla sahneye çıkan panelistler, toplantı esnasında bağıraşarak ‘networking’ yapan katılımcılar etkinliğin normal parçaları.

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Moving forward… ( slowly! )

I realized that it has been nearly six months since my last post. Each time I think of posting an update on our progress and the market in Turkey, I end up deciding to wait until we close on the deal and unfortunately closing date keeps getting postponed.

On the fund raising front, we continue to meet with new potential LPs and at the same time, update interested LPs regularly on market news and deal flow. The good news is, we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and we are sure it is not a train! 🙂

There have been more than 10 new investments within the last six months and at least 5 new investments are currently in due-dillegence phase. Most of the investments have been announced atWebrazzi. However I’d like to make a special mention of eBay’s recent acquisition. eBay purchased 93% of GittiGidiyor.com – “a Turkish auction site founded by Burak Divanlioglu and Serkan Borancili at $215million valuation (Valuation is based on Webrazzi news).  It is important to note that eBay already had 20% ownership of GittiGidiyor.  We are thrilled to see the first major exit in Turkey.Congratulations to everyone who is involved in the deal, especially to Burak and Serkan!

I would also like to share my observation on how entrepreneurs are evolving in Turkey. I moved to Istanbul about 15months ago and e-tohum Top-15 meeting in 2010 was the first event I attended here. This year, I attended the same event again and I was amazed with the difference. Last year, average level of knowledge on funding, process, structure, strategy, etc was basic at best.  This year, most attendees had in-depth knowledge, and more importantly, were ready to execute! Yes, knowledge alone is not enough to make a start-up successful.  Nevertheless, combined with the right team and right execution, it will drastically increase the chances of success for a start-up.  Mistakes in execution are likely to be made, but they can serve as lessons along the way.  Starting out with the wrong team, on the other hand, is a recipe for absolute failure.

Raising a VC fund in Turkey

Since we decided to start a Venture Capital fund to invest in early stage companies in Turkey, we’ve been working around the clock to raise money and create a strong deal flow. My last post was about our deal pipeline and we are happy to say that we have a solid list of companies on our potential deal list getting stronger every day.

Fund raising is also moving forward albeit with some challenges due to being pioneers.  We want to make sure that we are doing things in the right way. I must say it is extremely pleasing to meet people who share the same vision with us want to join us as Limited Partners. We are just at the beginning of this long journey. Despite some negative feedbacks such as “not possible” or “won’t happen here,” we are confident and committed.  We already received some commitments from some LPs and will continue to do so, until we reach the number we would like to raise.

European Investment Fund (EIF) has a matching program to invest PE/VC funds in Europe. We already initiated our application to have them as LP to our fund. If we receive matching fund, we will be the first VC fund in Turkey to receive fund from EIF.