Turkey's business incubator provides entrepreneurs' needs

ERHAN KAHRAMAN
ISTANBUL
Published 03.04.2016 20:51
Updated 03.04.2016 20:52
Turkey's business incubator provides entrepreneurs' needs

Turkish startups should think global from day one, according to Kaan Akın, the founder of Turkish startup accelerator Hackquarters, a relatively new platform providing support to talented newcomers to the startup ecosystem and encourages them to take prudent steps

Building your own startup is an easy task; simply speak with a financial advisor, get a tax board with your name on it and you are good to go. But growing your company so that it can operate on a global scale, that is a different story. You need a solid business idea, backed by - either a proven or disruptive - business model that will surely bring cash, and endless turns of investor meetings. It is a rocky mountain that few can help you to climb high.


Kaan Akın, the founder of Hackquarters

Working alongside people with a similar mindset in your first few months will help you to gain confidence and not get distracted from your objectives. It will surely help your motivation as well. That is why every startup ecosystem needs accelerators - cohort-based programs where small teams get a chance to work together. It is like a co-working space focused on startups and ideas. Along with an open office, you can also get legal support, accounting and a chance to meet with potential investors. In turn, most of these accelerators ask for an equity share, such as 10 percent of your company.

Turkey can compete with Silicon Valley, but we need more focus

Located in Istanbul, Turkish accelerator Hackquarters provides similar support to newcomers to the startup ecosystem. Kaan Akın, the founder and CEO of the company, said Turkish startups can compete with the ones in Silicon Valley by utilizing support from both the public sector and private investors. "Silicon Valley started this journey long before and they are way ahead of us. But technology is the most democratic platform for competition. While they keep building new companies and pushing the bar higher, we can definitely close this gap with the government and private sector's support."

Turkey already has a good start in terms of talented youth. According to Akın, many great companies in Silicon Valley has at least one skilled Turkish engineer who started working there in the early stages. "So, they know and understand Turkish people can do good in [the] technology [sector]," he said. But aside from talent, we need companies that will showcase our innovation in technology. "If we want to attract U.S. investors, we need to show them that we can sell technology to their own citizens. Americans invest in tech 1,000 times more than Turkey," Akın added.

With Generation Y becoming the major workforce, a startup environment where creative minds get together to accomplish one big objective is quickly becoming more popular than traditional enterprise job titles with vague goals. "In the U.S. and Europe, people realized how entrepreneurship can create value for economies and they are focused on spreading this culture," Akın said. "Turkey needs to take strong steps toward entrepreneurship. Growing startups and leading acquisitions by bigger foreign companies will create a good cash flow to Turkey and entrepreneurs. And those entrepreneurs could create something new, bringing more engineers and entrepreneurs onboard. You can think of this as a chain reaction. The first step of the chain reaction requires more energy. We should invest our money, time and patience in this chain reaction so it can start," he added.

Three quick tips for young entrepreneurs

Akın also offered some suggestions for young entrepreneurs. "First of all, they should think global, from day one," he said. "Bringing a good model to Turkey might only make a bunch of entrepreneurs rich. But, if we create something for the whole world, we'll get unprecedented economic power from customers all around the globe. Second, people mostly consider startups as great ideas. Honestly, an idea is less than the tip of the iceberg. The hardest part is the execution of the idea and growing as a company. Entrepreneurs should prepare themselves for all the responsibilities of being a boss without money, which is really tricky and requires maturity. [Third,] all entrepreneurs should listen to their customers closely. They should know their problems, even more so than those customers do. The key to a great business is to offer a solution to one big and unmet problem of customers. If this customer base is great, what you'll have at the end is something like Uber. Without understanding their customers, people shouldn't invest in their ideas or someone else's."

Driven by technology and innovation, dynamics of the business world are changing. Enterprises from any scale face growth and profitability problems at one point. "This is a good chance to invest in startup culture," Akın stressed. "Supporting the philosophy of entrepreneurship and implementing it into their own corporate culture should be the main responsibility for all companies who aim to maintain their business in the future."

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