Europe’s hottest startups 2016: Istanbul

Despite political turmoil, early-stage investment in Turkish startups continues to grow, with 500 Startups planning a new $15million fund and Startupbootcamp Istanbul offering its companies a share of $10m, growing to $40m in 2017.

Acquiring investment beyond seed money remains a challenge. “The ecosystem is growing, but the political situation had its impact,” says Naz Ozertugrul, an investor at Atomico. “Few outside investors are willing to take the risk.” “There needs to be more funding between $250,000 and $1m,” adds Çiğdem Toraman, MD at Startupbootcamp Istanbul.

The city’s startups are also experiencing the problems of any fledgling scene, Toraman says. “Lack of confidence in business partners, delayed payments, a market [not ready] for high-tech products.” But strong engineering talent from Istanbul’s universities, and R&D funds and grants, keeps the scene thriving.


A marketing tool that provides predictive algorithms for online businesses, Insider launched in 2012 and has 90 employees in five countries. “There are personalisation tools which allow online businesses to create special content for each user. However, they are manual and integration takes ages,” says co-founder and CEO Hande Cilingir. Insider’s tool segments audiences automatically, for a monthly fee. In the past year, the startup has collected and processed more than 15TB data and expanded to the UK.


Büyükdere Cad. Levent Loft b96, Levent, 34394

In the past year, the “BuzzFeed of Turkey” has launched Russian Onedio, a video-publishing arm (with 100 million monthly video views), raised $4 million in funding and tripled its revenue and customers. The startup – on our 2014 list – has developed a big-data platform to better target the branded content made for advertisers such as Samsung. Arabic Onedio will launch this autumn.



Teknoloji Pazarlama ve Ticaret AŞ, Beyo Iu, 34425

Around 1.2 million properties are sold annually in Turkey, but the quality of online sales has deteriorated, says co-founder and CEO Emre Erahin. “The market needs quality information and transparency.” An online B2C property auction marketplace founded in February 2015, Tapu solves this by accepting only properties with legal appraisals. A consumer version is
in the works.


Visionteractive sells hardware that connects with social media accounts to create personalised marketing materials. InstaFlip prints a brandable flipbook from videos; there are coffee and vending machines that work with Twitter; plus drones and a solar charger. Visionteractive has 200 clients, and UK and Middle East operations launched in May.


Huzur Mahallesi 15, Beyazıt Cad

Since launching last year and making our 2015 list, video-sharing platform Scorp has raised $1m, been valued at $10m and is now on Android, iOS and the web. Every day 160,000 people use Scorp to share 15-second clips, with 9.3m videos created as of May 2016 – up from 500,000 in April 2015. The service has expanded to Germany and the US. It sells advertising slots comprising compilations of user-generated videos on relevant topics to more than 60 clients. “Scorp has created its own category in digital advertising based on short selfie videos in Turkey, and is leading it,” says co-founder Omer Erkmen.


Yildiz Technical
University Teknopark R&D Center, Block B


AloTech wants to replace traditional call centres with a web-based “infinitely scalable” alternative run on Google Cloud. “It’s the only call centre that can be set up anywhere in the world in ten minutes, on a pay-as-you-go basis, without any capital,” says co-founder Cenk Soyak. Launched in 2013, AloTech has grown revenue from $240,000 in 2014 to $1m in 2015 – a figure expected to double in 2016. It has partnerships with Zendesk and Salesforce, and more than 100 clients, including Xerox and Pepsi. A Chicago office opened this year, and AloTech wants to reach Peru, Brazil, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.


Merdivenköy Mah. Bora Sok 1 Kat:19, Bağımsız 70/73 34732

Payment platform iyzico has grown significantly since making our 2014 list. In 2015, it raised $6.2 million and entered the $400 billion Iranian market. It has more than 29,000 registered merchants (up from 3,000 in 2014) and has seen a 500 per cent increase in the average number of transactions year on year.

Tools for simplifying transactions on mobile sites are in the works, and the 53-strong team includes recent hires from PayPal, eBay and Yandex. “I am aiming to get as many smart and driven people as possible together, who will help us become the payment champion of the Orient,” says marketing manager a da Еnen.


Ecza Sk 6, 34394, Sisli

“Monument makes photo management as easy as taking one,” according to co-founder and CEO Ercan Erciyes. Upload photos and videos via Wi-Fi or from SD cards, and an app organises them by date, location, face and content. Launched in August 2015, Monument raised $703,000 on Kickstarter, and $100,000 by May 2016 in pre-orders. It also raised $858,000 on Indiegogo.


Nispetiye Mah. Belediye Sitesi Yolu Sok 15/F, Beikta

KapGel, meaning “fetch” in Turkish slang, brings customers anything from nearby sales points in under an hour. “We take care of everything from demand to delivery,” says co-founder Cetin Oztoprak. Launched in 2014, KapGel has over 20,000 products on its iOS/Android apps, and 75 per cent of customers return every month. A $500,000 cash injection came from Asianoba Capital in 2016, and the startup is due to close a $1 million round.


Mahallesi Nuri Ziya Sokak 16, 1 Beyoglu

The bookkeeping cloud platform made our 2015 list and has since doubled its customer base to 2,500. “We signed a partnership agreement with Akbank, one of the largest banks,” says co-founder Sean Yu. “We’ll integrate our application directly to online banking to enable seamless syncing of transaction data, make payments for invoices and payroll in-app, provide invoice factoring, credit and loans, and other products in-app.