Turkish entrepreneur seeks tech ties with Israel

Turkey, Photo: Tamar Mazpi
Turkey, Photo: Tamar Mazpi

Cagdas Onen wants to connect Turkish start-ups with global markets throughaccelerator programs, competitions, and more.

Quite a few associations come to mind when thinking of Turkey - where President Erdogan has been trying to develop a high-tech scene in recent years. Cagdas Onen is one of the few entrepreneurs operating in Turkey to advance technological cooperation between Israeli and Turkish entrepreneurs and investors, with the aim of together realizing the shared potential.

Onen, owner of one of Turkeys largest start-up consultancy companies, Onen Consultancy, wants to connect local start-ups with international markets through international competitions and accelerator programs, among other things. In addition, Onen serves as a scout of sorts for Turkish and international investors, finding start-ups to invest in. Onen participated in the Start-Up Fusion 2015 competition, which included participants from Israel, Japan, and Turkey. The participants competed for a $100,000 investment from the Japanese fund Samurai Incubate.

Six Israeli start-ups participated in the competitions, along with three from Japan, and three from Turkey. Onen worked in cooperation with Israeli accelerator TheHive by Gvahim, a subsidiary of the Rashi Foundation that helps new immigrants and returning citizens with their start-ups.

Talking to Globes, Onen said, The growth potential is high. Onen says that half of all Turkish Internet users shop online, and, according to estimates, e-commerce could grow by 19% annually. In 2013, $80 million was invested in Turkish start-ups.

Do you already have a tradition of exits?

The biggest exit to date was of an e-commerce auction site by the name of GittyGidiyor, which was bought by eBay for $200 million.

When was the Turkish start-up scene born?

There was significant development already in 2008, but I think that 2012 was the most significant year. It was then that we saw the interest that foreign investors showed in Turkish ventures, and since then we have been growing.

Does the Turkish government understand the potential and support it?

Certainly. Local start-ups receive support. There is, for example, a $50,000 financing program, and tax benefits for angel investors of 25%. In addition, the state supports tech universities.

What are some promising Turkish start-ups that you are familiar with?

Of course there are some. This is my personal opinion, but I can list, for example, a food delivery company called Yemeksepeti, which has a value estimated at $500 million. Another example is taxi-ordering app BiTaxi.

Relations between Turkey and Israel are not great, to say the least. How do start-ups in your country view whats going on in Israel?

The concept of Start-Up Nation is popular, and Turkish start-ups with international vision are certainly beginning to think about partnerships with their colleagues in Israel. The word that best describes this is bridge, and in my personal opinion, tech start-ups can be this bridge.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 30, 2015

Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2015

Turkey, Photo: Tamar Mazpi
Turkey, Photo: Tamar Mazpi
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