Despite seeing big political upheavals in recent years, and again over the weekend, Turkey is a startup hub.
Behind the thriving startup scene there is a team of business incubators and accelerators providing the financial support and mentorship to turn brilliant ideas into a reality.
Below is a list of some of Turkey’s most established and comprehensive incubators, which also host international events, competitions, and meet-ups.
Created by the R&D wing of Avea, a leading Turkish GSM (global system mobile) company, they are looking to incubate startups in the communications sector. Their goal is to foster new long-term technologies, and transform academic studies in the field of ICT. With this in mind, Avea Labs has an incubation center with the space and technical infrastructure to allow an exchange of ideas between entrepreneurs, SMEs, universities and R&D business partners. The center includes test laboratories, and training on Avea’s communication infrastructure.
Turkey’s branch of the global incubator network opened in 2006. They provide programs and services to facilitate entrepreneurs’ access to talent, capital and markets. Notably, their investor platform brings together international investors and entrepreneurs as well as providing mentoring and consulting services. Endeavor is a media partner with the 2016 US Turkey Innovation Summit in Boston on July 21. Amongst their alumni are Gram Games and EVAM Streaming Analytics.
This accelerator and seed incubator selects 40 startups once a year. Applications open in June and candidates are selected in December. Etohum organizes a mayor startup conference, Startup Istanbul, October 6-10. The program sees demo days, meetups and workshops held in cities throughout Turkey, as well as San Francisco. Launched in 2009 it is funded by a group of investors and tech companies that included Naspers Group, UK Trade and Investment, MENA Venture Investments, and Arzan Venture Capital.
Supported by Istanbul Technical University ITU Seed was founded in 2011. They work with entrepreneurs in the pre-incubation, acceleration and incubation stages, and hold an annual Big Bang competition (this year in October). It works with all industries, from chemistry to electronics, IT and biogenetics. Some famous entrepreneur graduates are Aplikalab, developers of Turkey’s first international mobile social network (Whonear).
This incubator acts as a mentor network, project organizer, and overall entrepreneurship platform. They can get as many as 500 applications for each program they offer, of which only 5 percent make the cut. Supported by Bahçeşehir University, along with MV Holding Netmarble Turkey and Gedik Yatirim (a Turkish brokerage house) they are located in the city’s business district. Their startups tend to focus on fintech, IoT and big data. Their two acceleration programs are Game Garage and Startup Bootcamp, aimed at tech and game startups. The selected startups receive funding and incubation space at Starters Hub. This year’s Startup Bootcamp begins August 1 and continues for three months.
Founded in 2012, the Istanbul-based incubator relies on experienced angel investors that can make considerable investments ranging from 50,000 to 500,000 Turkish lira (US$16,500 to $165,000). Startup Angels supports entrepreneurs in the mobile sector, as well as software design. The program mentors new business ventures on product design, marketing, market access strategy, among others. They also hold Angel Academy Labs where they encourage investors to become angel investors. Istanbul Startup Angels also have networks in Ankara and UAE. Some of its success stories include Voscreen, Aclteslim, Mobiroller, and TDSMaker.
Calling themselves a ‘venture builder’ this Turkish establishment, who gave themselves the goal of recreating a Silicon Valley ecosystem, boasts startups like ActAPI, Kixel, Driwe, Line, and Fub amongst their alumni. With a particular focus on education they provide training on UX design, gamification, as well as technology camps. They are funded by Tart New Media a new media and e-business consultancy, active for 14 years. They invites entrepreneurs to acquire training in different aspects of product development and encouraging them to bring out their “inner genius”.
Outside of Istanbul
Based at the Ankara Animation Technologies and Game Development Center in Ankara. Launched in 2008, they bill themselves as a ‘pre-incubation center’ with a focus on the digital game sector. The center supports entrepreneurs working on game development and animation technologies for a year. So far they’ve helped develop over 300 games. Some successful game developers that sprung out of Atom include Panteon, MildMania, Octopus Creative, and Kuixo. They’re supported by Odtü teknokent, a technopark located in Middle East Technical University in Ankara where there are several incubation centers for technology development, such as the Halıcı Software House Incubation Center, New Businesses New Ideas (YFYİ) entrepreneurship program, and TeknoJump.
Focused on tech-based startups Inovent is an accelerator and seed fund provider that has incorporated 19 startups including Appcent, Antsis Elektronik, Duray, Inowatt, Greenoscope, and Masinga. Its goal is to create a dynamic ecosystem in Turkey that will nourish technology business ventures, cement investor infrastructures and promote proper management of intellectual assets. Inovent is funded by Sabanci University.
This list is a work in progress and we will be adding to it periodically. Any other incubators and accelerators you’d like to see here please let us know.