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Home » Türkiye’s Startup Ecosystem Strengthens With New Investment Funds

Türkiye’s Startup Ecosystem Strengthens With New Investment Funds

by Camren Potter
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Türkiye’s entrepreneurial ecosystem continues to gain momentum with the initiation of new investment funds despite the global inflationary environment. Venture capital investment funds, particularly in Türkiye and the surrounding region, persist in directing investments amid challenging economic conditions worldwide.

Türkiye’s first corporate venture capital fund, 212, has established its third fund to reach 70 million euros ($75.46 million). Focused on the Turkish market, 212 seeks to sustain investments in ventures operating in Türkiye, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Furthermore, the fund will extend support to entrepreneurs who have established companies in advanced markets but maintain links with their home countries.

Numan Numan, co-founder of 212, expressed their commitment to replicating the success of the first two funds.

“The criteria, which we refer to as ‘dragon,’ emphasizing the return on investment at exit, remains a vital benchmark. With this fund, we broaden our focus to a more extensive geography, perceiving stronger and more abundant opportunities than ever before,” said Numan.

“We will especially focus more on entrepreneurs who have founded companies in advanced markets, the so-called diaspora, and who maintained ties with their home countries. Additionally, our venture capital investment fund, Simya VC, which was initiated last year to invest in early-stage ventures, will also support our new fund, providing greater access to entrepreneurs. Moreover, we will persist in our investments with Türkiye’s first vertical deep technology fund, 212 NexT, which was launched in collaboration with Akkök Holding recently.”

New horizon for game ventures

Meanwhile, Hedef Portföy and WePlay Ventures have jointly established the WePlay venture capital investment fund, which received a green light from the Capital Markets Board (SPK).

The VCIF established with the single asset model will become a partner with the gaming investment company WePlay Ventures, which has 38 different gaming ventures in its portfolio from eight countries in Türkiye, Europe and Central Asia.

Numan Numan and Ali Karabey, co-founders of 212. (Courtesy of 212.
Numan Numan and Ali Karabey, co-founders of 212. (Courtesy of 212.

Operational since 2020 with offices in eight countries, WePlay Ventures is among the most active game investment companies in Europe and Central Asia. The company attracted attention last year with a successful exit from Udo Games after an 11-month investment.

Focusing on early-stage gaming companies in mobile, PC, console and Web3 areas, WePlay Ventures boasts a portfolio of 38 game ventures from eight countries. Through its acceleration program, WePlay HUB, introduced last year, the company has started to provide very serious support for early-stage game ventures in technical and management areas and rapidly expanded its portfolio.

New success stories

212, which shares its global and local experiences in the areas that ventures need alongside investment support, will continue to invest in globally growing technology companies in the B2B field in Türkiye, Central and Eastern Europe, and the Middle East and North Africa Region with the new fund.

It will also continue to support entrepreneurs who have established their companies in developed markets and have ties to their own countries.

“Since our inception, we have made significant contributions to the entrepreneurship ecosystem with our first two funds and set several milestones. With 29 investments to date, our managed assets have exceeded 100 million euros. We take pride in being the institutional investor in Türkiye’s first and biggest fintech exit, Iyzico and the first unicorn in the software field, Insider,” said Numan.

“Our commitment goes beyond providing funding; we also contribute to the transition of ventures to the next stage. Our expanding network over the past 12 years has brought significant benefits to the ventures in our portfolio. With our third fund, we are determined to create success stories just like we did with the first two funds. Approximately 60% of our new fund comes from investors who have been with us in previous funds, which is highly valuable to us,” he noted.

Continued opportunities

Ali Karabey, co-founder of 212, emphasized that with their 12 years of experience, they offer dynamic funds tailored to investors by understanding market needs.

“In addition to the traditional fund management model, we also provide new investment opportunities for investors seeking high returns by taking risks. We establish special purpose vehicles (SPVs) to provide more support to successful portfolio companies and enable investors to make follow-on investments,” said Karabey.

“Thanks to the flexibility we demonstrate in responding to market conditions, our investors have the opportunity to have a higher stake in the growth potential of successful companies. We will continue to provide opportunities not only for ventures but also for our investors,” he noted.

Investing in gaming ventures

WePlay VCIF is aimed at reaching a size of 10 million euros. The single-asset VCIF model, garnering significant interest in recent years, offers investors the opportunity to join WePlay Ventures’ existing portfolio.

WePlay Ventures, with WePlay VCIF, aims to expand its operations in Europe and Central Asia to 18 countries and add more than 350 gaming ventures to its portfolio within four years, aspiring to become the most active gaming investment company in the region.

Bora Koçyiğit, managing partner of WePlay Ventures, highlighted the company’s contributions to the gaming ecosystem.

“Since 2020, WePlay Ventures has made significant contributions to the development of the gaming ecosystem in Türkiye and the region, adding 38 game ventures to our portfolio. Besides financial support, we provide strategic support to ventures, enabling them to scale much faster. With WePlay VCIF, we aim to reach early-stage gaming ventures not only in Türkiye but also in Europe and Central Asia, targeting over 350 investments,” said Koçyiğit.

Ercan Güner, general manager of Hedef Portfolio, expressed confidence in the joint venture with WePlay.

“Within the framework of our vision to support the entrepreneurship ecosystem, we have decided to collaborate with WePlay Ventures, which makes a significant contribution to the gaming world. We believe that with the joint initiative of WePlay and Hedef Portfolio, WePlay VCIF will be a game-changer in the global gaming sector, said Güner.

“The gaming industry is one of the world’s largest sectors with a massive market size of $200 billion. It is also the fastest-growing sector in the world, with 3.2 billion active gamers and a 248% growth trend. We are pleased to invest in a promising and innovative sector presenting WePlay GSYF to all investors under the 0% tax and 0% withholding tax regime.”

Entrepreneurial marathon gathers 150 innovators from quake region

Entrepreneurship is crucial in addressing local challenges in 11 Turkish provinces devastated by the earthquakes earlier this year.

The Sabancı Hatay Incubation Center, established in collaboration with the Habitat Association and Sabancı Group companies, including Brisa, Kordsa, Temsa and Teknosa, continues to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit in the quake-affected areas.

Aiming to integrate local entrepreneurs into the Turkish and global entrepreneurship ecosystem, the center hosted a major event between Nov. 24-26.

Entrepreneurs are seen at the Sabancı Hatay Incubation Center, in Hatay, southeastern Türkiye. (Courtesy of Sabancı Group)
Entrepreneurs are seen at the Sabancı Hatay Incubation Center, in Hatay, southeastern Türkiye. (Courtesy of Sabancı Group)

The Entrepreneurship Marathon, with nearly 150 applicants from Hatay and Adana, was organized in collaboration with the Habitat Association, supported by Sabancı Volunteers and Viveka. Teams participating in the marathon received training on sustainable entrepreneurship, design thinking, customer profiling, user scenario creation, business model canvas, storytelling, brand creation and presentation techniques from expert mentors.

5 teams advance to finals

Themed “Solutions for Local Issues After Disasters,” the Sabancı Hatay Incubation Center Entrepreneurship Marathon lasted 48 hours.

Throughout the event, 23 teams designed various projects using the power of technology in disaster management to create a safer, more resilient, and inclusive society. The teams “Guideverse,” “Hatay’ı Yaşat,” “Circular Trade,” “Makarnaapp,” and “Koza” successfully advanced to the second stage and earned the right to attend an acceleration program.

Grants of $3,450

Apart from the five teams advancing to the second stage, all other entrepreneurs continue to develop their business ideas in the shared workspace at the Sabancı Hatay Incubation Center. The finalist teams, however, will have the opportunity to further enhance and commercialize their ideas during a three-week online acceleration program.

Under the program, teams will receive training and mentorship from Sabancı Group executives, Sabancı Volunteers and the Habitat Association, covering various aspects from marketing and product development to legal processes.

Following the program, during the Demo Day, the teams will present their projects for evaluation by the jury. Two successful teams with the most innovative ideas will be rewarded with TL 100,000 ($3,450) in grant support.

TT Ventures spotlights startup investment strategy

In a bid to drive innovation, Türk Telekom, the company behind Türkiye’s first startup acceleration program, PILOT, continues to bolster its investments through its venture capital arm.

TT Ventures is strategically investing in startups that align with its vision, leveraging its diverse portfolio and support mechanisms to contribute to the growth and success of innovative enterprises in Türkiye and beyond.

The firm recently disclosed the focal points and evaluation criteria that guide its investments in startups.

The venture capital firm emphasized four critical criteria in its evaluation process: team, product, market, and business model. TT Ventures underscores the importance of experienced teams with strong communication skills, bold objectives and a passion for their work.

According to TT Ventures, its primary investment focus lies in startups that can synergize with the Türk Telekom Group, aiming to scale their businesses rapidly and possessing high growth potential. The firm employs flexible methods to invest in such ventures, with the overarching goal of providing sustainable shareholder value.

Broad investment portfolio

TT Ventures has, until now, invested in startups across various sectors, including education, health care and software. Yet, its expansive investment focus extends beyond these realms to cover 21 different areas.

The firm is particularly interested in 5G technologies, “gamification” technologies, artificial intelligence, retail technologies, digital products and services, regulatory technologies, gaming and esports, and health technologies.

Apart from direct investment in startups, TT Ventures offers support in expanding to global markets, providing marketing communication assistance, and aiding in rapid business growth. This multifaceted approach underscores the firm’s commitment to fostering innovation and sustainable development within the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Source : DailySabah

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