A Look at Turkish E-Commerce Site Lidyana.com's $3M Investment from Ru-net [Wamda TV]

by Gulay Ozkan,   August 2, 2012

As in almost all emerging economies, Turkey’s e-commerce market is presenting very attractive growth opportunities. In 2011, with a growth rate of 57 percent, the size of the domestic online retail market reached $12.3 billion.

A recent study by BKM (Turkey’s Interbank Card Center) shows that in Q1 and Q2 of 2012, market volume was around $4 billion, which is 40.5 percent more than the same period in 2011. Naturally, these figures attract venture capital companies who “hunt” e-commerce companies in emerging markets.

As I wrote last year, Amazon’s entrance into Turkey is a key sign of the entrance of new investments and big brands into not only Turkey but also the Middle East. Markets such as Vietnam, India and Turkey will keep attracting more and more investors mainly in the e-commerce domain.

The latest news comes from Russian venture capital company Ru-net. After several investments in Russia, India and Vietnam, Ru-net’s latest move was investment in Lidyana.com, an e-commerce jewelry business. While the founders did not confirm the numbers, the $3 million investment was rumored to have been made for a 25% stake, as Lidyana.com reportedly reached a valuation of $12 million thanks to a userbase of around 35 million customers. 

In addition to being the first such company in Turkey, lidyana.com has a celebrity-endorsed business model that leverages its famous investors, who include Arda Turan, a Turkish football player who currently plays for Atlético Madrid, Sina Afra, co-founder of markafoni.com and an important e-commerce figure in Turkey, Nevzat Aydin, founder of yemeksepeti.com who is one of the pioneers of the Turkish internet market, and Saffet Ulusoy, who is a board member of Ulusoy holding

Lidyana.com’s founders, Hakan Bas and Onur Kinay, say that the company is mainly targeting the Turkish market, but Russia and the Middle East are in their sights.

We haven’t yet seen any Ru-net investments in the Middle East, however. The entrance of lidyana.com into the Middle East market before Russia seems unlikely given the logistical difficulties in the Arab World. 

In the jewelry vertical, many global competitiors are cropping up. After Stella & Dot raised $37 million from U.S. venture capital firm Sequoia Capital in January 2011, copycats such as Juvalia & You, a Berlin-based online fashion jewelry company incubated by Springstar, have begun operations in Brazil, Germany, Russia and India. Russian and Indian operations were announced two weeks ago,  one of the Russian operations is also a Ru-net investment.

Although the founders of Lidyana.com do not expect to see direct competitors, I do expect to see new players come on the scene in the jewelry e-commerce business in Turkey and Middle Eastern markets, given their initial success.

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Gulay Ozkan has more than 12 years experience in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. During this time, she has met more than a thousand entrepreneurs and evaluated many startups in incubation centers, techno-parks and universities. She was one of the key figures behind Turkey’s first technology incubation center, launched by Ericsson in 2000, where she worked with leading telecoms operators from China to South America. She and the team were instrumental in building the Turkish mobile VAS market. In 2007, Gulay founded GEDS Business, a consultancy company focused on innovation and entrepreneurship in technology industries across Europe and the Middle East. She is also the founding president of a Turkish project-management NGO called PMI TR. She holds a BSc and an MSc in electrical engineering from ITU in Turkey and UNL-Lincoln in the US. She can be found on her website, www.gulayozkan.com or on Twitter at @GulayOzkan.

 
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