Startup guru highlights the importance of investing in teams, not ideas

Published 23.02.2019 00:31
Aslanoba Capital’s first investments were Bitaksi and Modanisa. The company has over 120 investments.
Aslanoba Capital’s first investments were Bitaksi and Modanisa. The company has over 120 investments.

The founder of Aslanoba Capital, Hasan Aslanoba, an early-stage investor who pioneered many ventures in the Turkish entrepreneurial ecosystem after the successful sale of the Turkish bottled water brand Erikli in 2006, shared his investment record, achievements and mistakes at the Collective Stories meeting

Hasan Aslanoba is the first name that comes to mind as an angel investor in the Turkish entrepreneurial ecosystem. Aslanoba, the founder and chairman of Aslanoba Capital, shared his experience in investments and ventures at the Collective Stories gathering. Aslanoba stressed that Turkey has no choice but to invest in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. "While other countries move with great speed, we cannot afford any time loss. The gap can be opened so wide that countries that work with reasoning can leave others behind like aliens. Institutions and Turkey have no time for transformation," Aslanoba said. "They have to act immediately. As factories and businesses doing business with muscle are transforming, the change will affect white-collar [workers] as well. Artificial intelligence software will now allow us to solve many tasks easily. Ventures in countries ready for change have already begun to take over every business. There is no escaping this."

Aslanoba noted that decisions taken by the state, municipalities and regulation institutions directly affect investment decisions from abroad, recalling that when the Bitaksi application was on the verge of a significant investment, investors got spooked because of such decisions. "Now private institutions and the state have to act in a mobilized manner," he added and pointed to the transformation of individuals. Aslanoba advised entrepreneurs about this, saying, "Institutions cannot transform, but individuals can. Just focus on your work and try to improve yourself. Think about your shortcomings and what you do well and listen to your customers carefully. They will show you the right way to go."

Aslanoba said that he gave great importance to this idea when he first started to invest. "This idea was my first priority when investing. Now, I focus more on the team and the skills of the founder. It is not the idea that makes a job different, it is the abilities of the team that implements it that directly affects success," he continued. "You start to give importance to the venture's founder and the team, not the idea.

The important thing is to be able to handle teamwork and be open to sharing. Otherwise, there might be hundreds of entrepreneurs who think of the same thing."

'I failed in my work as an entrepreneur'

Aslanoba, who answered questions from entrepreneurs on social media and in the hall at the meeting in KolektifHouse, explained why he failed in other ventures other than Erikli.

"When I was working professionally in Erikli, I had full knowledge of every detail and I was very focused on my work. That is why we achieved good success," Aslanoba said. "However, after striving to be an early-stage investor, I tried to do business as an entrepreneur as well. But now I see that I failed because I could not focus. I will continue to be a good early-stage investor and I will only focus on this."

'I do not quit without finding the value'

Aslanoba said he has over 120 investments, most of them in Turkey. "There are also failed ventures. But in general, I invested in the right ones. According to Startups.Watch figures, I contributed to five of the top 10 investments last year," he concluded.

Entrepreneurial energy to protect human and environmental health

Technology ventures have a hand in many advances in human, animal, agricultural and environmental health. Solutions focusing on increasing the income of agriculture and animal husbandry via "internet of things" (IoT) projects are directly related to the future of the country. Applications for the Global Acceleration Program, the Grants4Apps (G4A) Turkey, run by Bayer on a global scale to support entrepreneurial ecosystem, end Feb. 28. G4A Turkey, which was held for the first time last year, is expanding this year, focusing on human and animal health, as well as ventures that offer business and technology solutions in the fields of agriculture and environmental health. Ventures selected by a special jury are awarded a grant of TL 60,000, and winning entrepreneurs are supported with a 100-day working environment and mentoring training.

Every entrepreneur over 18 years of age offering technology, informatics and business model solutions to benefit health care, agriculture, animal husbandry, environmental health areas and corporate firms with a minimum viable product (MVP) or prototype that can be worked on from anywhere around Turkey can apply to Bayer Grants4Apps Turkey 2019 with more than one project. Apply for the program at In the first year of the Grants4Apps Turkey program, six projects were selected and awarded out of 122 startups. Winning entrepreneurs had the opportunity to work with more than 25 mentors and more than 100 Bayer employees.

Food at the heart of the hottest competition

Speedy, hot food delivery to customers is creating serious competition. Getir Yemek service is gearing up to become the biggest competitor to Yemek Sepeti. The competition will benefit customers and restaurants that want the hottest food delivery.

The two data-driven companies' hot meal rivalry will improve competition using better technology. Customers will eat warmer food at a more affordable price, while the gains and options of restaurants will also increase. Yemek Sepeti, which sets an example for Turkey and the rest of the world as the country's most successful Internet venture for the last 15 years, will face a serious opponent for the first time. The competition, which Spanish food distribution venture Glovo also wants to be a part of, will ensure that Turkey is a hot market for food service.

An average of 10 minutes

Company founder Nazım Salur, who stressed that they deliver their products to users in 10 minutes on average, said they will focus on bringing warmer food, faster. He added that while their rivals try to collect different orders in the same basket, there might be a risk of the food becoming cold during delivery.

"Apart from grocery products, Getir also delivers food with the 'GetirYemek' option. Orders are not combined in GetirYemek, and each order is delivered to the user in a separate delivery," Salur said. "Users receive orders from Getir couriers as soon as possible, while specially isolated Thermobox baskets maintain the temperature. The application allows the user to follow the order status live and monitor delivery time on the map." Noting that GetirYemek, launched on Feb. 7, has more than 1,000 restaurants as business partners and has a team of 2,000 people, Salur said with its new venture, Getir would provide employment to more than 500 people. We will soon see how Yemek Sepeti, which created the sector from scratch, will respond to hot competition.

Get a ticket for future ideas

Technology giants of the future are based on talented human resources. For this purpose, each country tries to keep its talents at home. Thus, the responsibility falls upon not just the state but also private sector institutions.

Arçelik continues to provide opportunities for Turkish students studying abroad to contribute to Turkey's potential for innovation and creativity. It is organizing the "A Ticket for Your Future" program for the second time this year. The program was launched last year to bring Turkish students studying in the world's leading universities back to our country. Turkish students at the senior and graduate level in engineering and technology departments around the world are invited. The application process, which will be held in Arçelik's new research and development (R&D) center Garage from July 16 to Aug. 2, ends April 1.

Thus, more students are provided with the opportunity to create value in the country and more significant outcomes for the project.

Last year, Arçelik hosted 26 Turkish students studying abroad; three returned home and started working for Arçelik in areas such as production, digital transformation and consumer training. This year's goal will be to bring more talent to Arçelik and Turkey.

Robots to solve customer problems

The number of companies that solve the problems of millions of customers with intelligent software robots is increasing. The share of domestic enterprises is also on the rise. Türk Telekom recently introduced a new generation digital customer communication platform JetFix for institutions. With Livechat, Chatbot and Omnichannel products, JetFix enables organizations to make their customer relationship management faster and more efficient. To improve the communication processes of institutions with their customers and to support companies in areas such as time, cost and management, Türk Telekom introduces JetFix with three main products. JetFix's Livechat enables corporations to receive live messaging and multiple client calls at the same time, while Chatbot features 24/7 messaging via a virtual assistant. In addition, with Omnichannel (multi-channel management), organizations can respond more quickly and efficiently to all feedback such as requests, information and suggestions from social media and e-mail channels.

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