Why Turkey is the Ideal Country for Startups?
With an average age of 32.2, Turkey's growing population is both digitally connected and active, evidenced by being the 10th largest market for Facebook, 6th largest market for Instagram, 6th largest market for Twitter, 3rd largest market for TikTok, and the 8th largest market for YouTube globally. Furthermore, Turkey was the 7th largest top market for mobile apps, as determined by the total number of app downloads.
In 2015, e-retail sales accounted for 2.9% of all retail sales in Turkey; e-retail reached 6.2% in 2019. In 2019, this ratio was 6.7 in developing countries and 12.3 in developed countries, with Turkey eclipsing both Spain and India.
In 2019, e-commerce grew by 18% over the previous year, reaching 14.6B USD. From 2015-2019, the average annual growth rate was 13%. In 2013, online shoppers made up only 23% of Internet users in Turkey. In 2019, this ratio had reached 68%.
In 2017, KOSGEB (Small and Medium Industry Development Organization) launched a broad grant program to support organizations establishing accelerator programs abroad as well as startups looking to take part in such programs. This program helped to enable Turkish startups to get high-level training and mentoring from a broader global experience base, thereby jumpstarting their globalization operations into international markets.
In Turkey, technoparks have been the gathering place for technology and innovation-based companies, from idea stage startups to tech firms with billions of Turkish Lira in exports annually. These technoparks house more than 5,000 startups, scaleups, and grownups, employing in total over 50,000 people.
The Turkish government is a very active and strong supporter of the startup ecosystem in Turkey, offering a variety of programs and policies to enable the establishment and growth of startups.
TUBITAK has been providing grants via its program called TUBITAK BiGG to idea-stage startups since 2012. In 2019, 568 idea-stage startups received grants of 200,000 Turkish Liras each, while 823 early-stage startups and scale-ups received grants totaling 123 Million Turkish Liras. Over the same time, KOSGEB provided grants to 417 idea-stage and 160 early-stage startups. In total, in 2019, these two institutions alone provided monetary support to technology-based startups, scaleups, and grownups equivalent to 32.5 Million Dollars.
Within the last 5 years, bachelor’s degree programs in entrepreneurship have been accredited in four universities to go along with graduate-level programs in seventeen universities in Turkey. In 2019, almost 14,000 students were admitted to 4-year Computer Science and Computer Engineering-related university undergraduate programs.
Due to regulative changes regarding corporate investing, in the last few years, the number of companies starting Corporate Venture Capital (CVC) entities have increased dramatically. For example, in 2017, of the 10 new venture funds that were started, seven of them were CVCs. Given the learning curve for corporate investment, the initial CVC fund sizes have been small but as these companies gain experience, we should expect to see larger CVCs soon.