Some e-commerce brands are departing from Turkey to become global; others are bought out by industry giants as soon as they acquire scale.
Private equity firm Actera has decided to invest $130 million (TL 891 million) in Vivense, an experienced e-commerce player in the furniture industry. The investment agreements have been signed by the relevant parties. In addition to supporting its rapid growth in Turkey with new investments, the transaction will also accelerate Vivense’s global activities starting from London.
The problems relating to distribution infrastructure during the pandemic have deeply affected many e-commerce startups. Due to supply chain issues, many companies have begun to seek different approaches.
Investment in logistics, delivery
Elaborating on the Actera investment, Kemal Erol, the founder and CEO of Vivense, said they would continue their rapid growth by strengthening their logistics and delivery infrastructure with the investment.
“By further developing our technology, we will be a strong sales channel for Turkish furniture manufacturers that opens to the world under the Vivense brand. We will further enrich our product range with our special collections,” Erol said.
He also stressed that they look to further increase the number of their showrooms and sales points.
“We want to bring everyone to the Vivense experience more easily physically and digitally. With new investments in our e-commerce platform, we want to improve the experience we offer to our customers in the furniture and home categories. We will continue to support furniture manufacturers in Turkey to further their quality. Meanwhile, we want to carry the business model we have created together with e-commerce and showroom, which are very effective in our rapid growth, to the global arena,” Erol added.
Along with the showroom the company will open in London in September, Vivense’s e-commerce site will start its activities throughout the U.K. at the beginning of 2021, according to the CEO.
“We want to carry our product range in Turkey to a global level with this business model starting from the U.K.,” Erol noted.
Target? A global success
The objectives of the deal have been also confirmed by the investor, Actera, and the funding will serve as an impetus in helping the company become a global brand.
“We believe that Vivense will continue its strong growth and become Turkey’s leading home and furniture brand and the company’s strong business model will also be very successful on a global scale,” the company said in a statement.
“We are excited to move Turkey’s production power in the furniture and home categories to the global markets with an added-value under the Vivense brand. We believe that the Vivense team can do more of what they have done so far on a global scale,” it added.
Global brands swallow growing domestic startups
The brands trying to open up from Turkey to the world have been swallowed by giant international brands after their success in Turkey.
Brands such as Yemeksepeti, a popular online food-ordering company, and e-commerce platform Trendyol were acquired by world giants in the sector.
A Germany-based global player in online and mobile food ordering, Delivery Hero, acquired Yemeksepeti for $589 million in 2015, while Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba bought 82% of the Trendyol shares for $753 million in 2018.
Receiving investments has been a vital issue for e-commerce startups, particularly those operating in logistics and supply chain, which came to the fore during the pandemic. At this point, Vivense's investment is of critical importance.
Startups ready to set out on market quest
The sixth-term startups of the Workup Entrepreneurship Program, of which private lender Iş Bank is the main supporter, have graduated. The Demo Day event recently held online due to the pandemic welcomed angel investors, venture capital companies, managers of acceleration and incubation programs, and senior executives of Iş Bank and its subsidiaries.
Eleven graduates, namely Hipicon, Aktivido, Vahaa, B2Metric, Processeye, E-scholarship, Templay, Enhencer, Headports, Barty and Mindsite, presented their models and road maps at the event by introducing their startups to the invitees from the entrepreneurship ecosystem and business world who could provide them with support in terms of investment and cooperation.
The Workup Entrepreneurship Program, which started in 2017, has received more than 10,000 applications to date and has come together with hundreds of startups. With the sixth term, 60 startups graduated, while 15 different startups included in the program have received a total investment of over $1.6 million so far.
In his speech at the Demo Day event, Iş Bank General Manager Adnan Bali stressed that they continue their support in the field of entrepreneurship in an inclusive manner by touching all segments of the ecosystem, from mentoring to funding, in collaboration with different platforms, from female entrepreneurs to agriculture.
He stated that Workup – which has a scalable and sustainable business model, is technology-oriented, supports early-stage startups and began under the direction of Kolektif House in 2017 – is one of the most important parts of the bank’s support for the entrepreneurship ecosystem.
Bali added that after the pandemic, they quickly moved the Workup Entrepreneurship Program online.
“Even in such a conjuncture, we continued our support for Workup without interruption, with sincerity and determination, by putting our commitment and standing behind this commitment,” he said. “In this context, we maintained our inspirational activities, mentoring meetings, training and transfers through online channels. We organized a total of 35 online events in a three-and-a-half-month period, and we broadcast 10 events that we held live with very important stakeholders of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and released them to the entire ecosystem via our social media platforms. Thus, we have made Workup a reference point in terms of entrepreneurship.”
Underlining that people who still do not use new technologies with accelerated digitalization will be left behind, Bali said that those who focus on technology will be more preferred from now on, whether it is a pandemic or another critical period.
“This means that the future activities and products of entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship ecosystems and FinTechs will be more demanding. As I see how fast the entrepreneurs respond to the needs and how quickly they adapt to the new conditions in the pandemic process, my belief that the Turkish entrepreneurs will have growth opportunities is increasing even more,” he said.
He recalled that the Maxis Innovative Venture Capital Investment Fund, where the lender is an investor, made its third investment in PCI Checklist venture, a fourth-term graduate of Workup, last January, and this was the first investment of Maxis among Workup startups. Bali stated that they took very important steps to contribute to their growth as well as investing in startups, adding that they continue their investments with Maxis, to which they committed to transfer funding of up to TL 100 million ($14.6 million).
Creative solutions to COVID-19's problems
During the pandemic period, many businesses across the world faced a number of problems. This period was marked by innovative ideas from young people aimed at overcoming these problems.
Thirty teams consisting of 115 students from 20 different cities participated in the “Healthy Individuals and Communities” themed process, which started on June 7, under the main partnership of Zorlu Holding and under the direction of imeceLAB and Yenibirlider Association.
During the process, which was carried out with the participation of high school and university youth throughout Turkey, the teams focused on developing projects seeking solutions to the "Healthy and Quality Life" issue, which became much more urgent and important after COVID-19.
The teams that were selected from the six finalists that made presentations to the jury took the stage. As a result of the closing meeting, PeerCO, SCRUBS and Vefa1872 became the three top teams. SCRUBS created the Pharmaceutical Assistant project developed by medical school students on health literacy, Vefa1872 presented the Eco Travel project, which put the issue of ecological tourism on the agenda, and PeerCO put forward the Güven.App project, which provides an online platform where individuals can choose a safe and healthy environment according to their priorities. These teams were the ones that had held the most mentor interviews and had completed more than 20 hours of training during the process.
These three selected teams will receive training and mentoring support for two months as part of the incubation process. They will undergo training from IDEU, an online school where leaders can discover their creative potential and improve their problem-solving skills. Apart from these three selected teams, the other three teams will continue to receive support for their projects from mentors and imeceLAB.
The social innovation platform imece, launched with Zorlu Holding, ATÖLYE and sustainability agency s360 as the founding partners, completed the new issue process that started with imeceLAB, an open social innovation laboratory that provides collective solutions to social, cultural and environmental issues.
Youth show high interest in cybersecurity camp
Turkey's leading information and communication technologies company, Türk Telekom, continues its projects implemented with a human-oriented and social responsibility approach. Around 2,500 young people applied to the company’s online Cyber Security Camp, launched in line with national cybersecurity strategy, the vision of creating a cyber homeland and the Presidency’s aim to contribute to the digital awareness in society.
Mehmet Emre Vural, human resources deputy general manager of Türk Telekom, said the application phase of their project, which aimed to support the trained human resources units in fending off cyberattacks threatening national security and the private sector, was completed. Following a comprehensive program on current cyber threats, participants would be given a certificate, he said.
20 topics identified
Following the online exam held July 13 and one-on-one interviews on July 22-30, participants will be given 100 hours of comprehensive training for 10 days by experts from Türk Telekom and the industry.
In the camp program, which will start with the "Introduction to Information Security" training on Aug. 17, training activities will be conducted on 20 different topics in cybersecurity, systems, networks and software, applications and the internet of things. Participants who complete the camp program, which will end Aug. 28, will receive a training certificate.
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