Economy Coming of age of Turkey’s digital economy

Coming of age of Turkey’s digital economy


Turkish businesswoman and famous shopping website 'Trendyol'
Demet Mutlu Turkish businesswoman and famous shopping website ‘Trendyol’

(AA) – The Turkish digital economy is coming of age, boasting more and more Internet finding and developing services, experts said at the Financial Times Summit for the Turkish economy in Istanbul.

Speaking on Wednesday, Demet Mutlu, founder and CEO of  the Turkish clothing retail site Trendyol said that there was a growing dynamism in Turkish ecommerce.

“An increasing number of Internet ecommerce firms are starting up, and filling gaps in the Turkish web. A vast number of services that were not available previously are now on offer, and competition is growing.”

The number of new startups in Turkey was about 60,000 as of September 2014, up from about 45,000 in September 2013, according to statistics in the Coface Panorama Turkey report published in January.

Mutlu, who started Trendyol in 2009 with her own money, has raised $50 million in venture capital funding since then. Trendyol now has about 5 million regular clients. 

“There is also vast consumer interest in online services in Turkey. Global apps are reportedly being used more by Turkish consumers than by any others,” Mutlu said.

About half of Turkish consumers shop online, and Turkey is third in the world in mobile shopping, according to statistics from the Turkish Interbank Card Center.

-Skilled workers needed

“Turkey has begun to walk fast in the digital space, and now it must break into a run,” said Marjut Santoni, deputy chief executive officer at the European Investment Fund.

“With our partners, we support venture capital firms which support entrepreneurs. Turkey is a key point for our support, because of the strong skills base in the country and its record for creativity,” Santoni commented.

“Skills are very important, so is research, creativity and innovation: It’s a total package that we look for,” Santoni added. “In Turkey, you find plenty of entrepreneurial spirit.”

-Venture capital funds emerging

With the total package being forged by Turkish entrepreneurs, venture capital firms are beginning to emerge, said Cem Sertoglu, of the venture capital firm Earlybird Venture Capital.

“We now have successful small startups in Turkey, but what’s missing is the global success story. Consider that Israel produces one of these every month,” Sertoglu pointed out.

To achieve that global Internet success, more funding is needed. “We are just beginning to attract international investor interest to the Turkish sector,” Sertoglu said. He noted that another missing element is a sufficient number of specialized lawyers, who can help complete deals.

Mutlu doesn’t think that a global success story will be long in coming. “We’re already creating companies that earn close to $10 million per year, so it’s only a matter of time that they grow to a global scale,” she said.

Hasan Asianoba, an angel investor who has made more than 42 investments in Turkish startups, agreed. “Investors are the real bottleneck for entrepreneurship in Turkey. There is no lack of interesting startups in the country. All you need to do is to go fund them,” he said.

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