Introducing VCs in Turkey: Boğaziçi Ventures

Barış Özistek believes Turkish start-ups are hardworker, on the other hand, multicultural working environment is weak in the Turkish startup ecosystem, he added

As in the most VCs, Boğaziçi Ventures’ first rule is also to consider the team before investing in a start-up. On the other hand, they are looking for promising start-ups with proven business models and high growth potential at international markets. As I looked at  Boğaziçi Ventures’ portfolio, I noticed they have a diverse portfolio, ranging from blockchain to e-sports, media and biotech. I talked to Barış Özistek, General Partner at Boğaziçi Ventures, and here’s what he told me.

 Can you tell me the story of Boğaziçi Ventures? What are you doing exactly?

We’re a venture capital company investing into the promising tech companies, building true partnership with them and helping their fast growth at international markets.

Within that perspective, we build and manage tech investment funds from early stage to Series A and cryptocurrency funds. In addition to our funds, we provide private (Single LP) fund management and accelerator management services for our strategic investors.

As a VC company, how do you raise your capital? How much did you invest so far?

We raise capital from institutional investors and individuals. Our purpose is to provide superior returns to our investors while creating a significant value for the technology entrepreneurship eco-system. Our AUM (Asset Under Management) is over 100 M USD.

What are your main criteria when you decide to invest in a startup?

First rule, we invest in the team. Capability, passion and vision of the team is the most important criteria in our decision. We’re also looking for promising tech start-ups with proven business models and high growth potential at international markets.

  As Boğaziçi Ventures, do you have any specific industries to invest in?

We’ve a diverse portfolio and capability. Our new fund, BV Growth, focuses on gaming, fintech, retail tech and digital health verticals. 

 After the current acquisition of Peak by Zynga, the largest exit in Turkey of $1.8 bio, do you think Turkish startups have gain traction in global arena?  

Turkish startups have already gained traction in global arena after multiple successful cases. Gaming is the leading tech industry in Turkey with over 2,4 billion USD exits in the last 5 years but we’ve observed multiple successful companies from Turkey in fintech, retailtech, B2B SaaS products, etc.

  As you compare Turkish startups with global competitors, what are the pros and cons of Turkish ones?

Turkish startups are very hard worker, resilient and capable. It’s much more easier to build a tech startup in Turkey and grow internationally. Domestic market is strong in terms of smartphone penetration, high digital adoption of young population. That creates an ideal environment for the startups to collect and analyze data, polish their products accordingly. 

On the other hand, multicultural working environment is weak in the Turkish startup ecosystem. Almost all the employees of the startups are Turkish. That is a strong side at the beginning but turns to a weakness when the startup goes to global. I believe, startups got used to work decentralized due to COVID. That will help them to create a multicultural environment in the future.

  On a global scale, what kind of startups will shine out, especially in days of COVID-19?

Any startup which disrupts the traditional business models have opportunity to rise. Due to COVID, digital transformation have been completed globally. There were many businesses that couldn’t shift to digital because of people’s resistance. Now, it’s time for the startups to attack, create innovative business models and scale massively. I expect, we’ll see a massive change in the health industry at first.

Image: Barış Özistek, General Partner at Boğaziçi Ventures

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