By Fatmanur Erdogan, Hürriyet Daily News
Starting an online business in Turkey might seem like a tough challenge. It’s tough anywhere, but especially in Turkey. Imagine telling your non-geek family and friends that you are starting a new business, and the business will not have a physical store in Nişantaşı. You think they will shower you with encouragement? More likely, they will wonder what kind of crazy scheme you are wrapped up in this time. Once you get past that reaction, you will face the daunting task of finding the resources, money, and expertise to turn your dream into a reality.
The new generation, “Generation Y”, aged 18-34, has grown up in an era that lives and breathes online. Advancements in internet technologies have enabled us to meet, talk, share, and participate in almost everything online. Some argue that friendship is dead, but I argue that friendship has just become much wider.
Generation Y comes with a unique skill set. They demonstrate a more entrepreneurial outlook than the generations that came before them. And technology today makes it much easier to start a business and reach customers in places we have never even visited. A recent U.S. retail report shows that during the holidays, online shopping slightly exceeds that of offline shopping. While that is yet to be the case in Turkey, those days are not too far off. One reason is entrepreneurship is being encouraged more than ever, with many people organizing events to foster it.
Girişim Günleri is one such event. Organized by two young, internet-savvy pioneers named Ferit Demir and Saban Dasgin, about 100 entrepreneurs will gather on Nov 29-30 at Kadir Has University. The event’s goal is to launch a business in 48 hours. Those with an internet business idea will share their idea with experts, using an open idea-sharing platform. Each startup will have 3 minutes to explain itself, and participants will select one business idea to work on. Sound impossible? As Nike says, impossible is nothing! Have a look at girisimgunleri.com, see for yourself, and remember that when we don’t try, nothing is possible.
Originally started in the U.S. in 2007, Startup Weekend’s unique format has proven to work. It is a perfect opportunity for online business owners to benefit from a broad spectrum of perspectives, since the experts present are knowledgeable in fields as varied as programming, business development, and marketing. The event is also an excellent opportunity for attendees to have a hand in the startup of a business.
Etohum (etohum.com) is another platform that brings together investors, professionals and young entrepreneurs to create new companies. Anyone with a new internet business idea who needs capital, management, marketing, or any other means of support, can apply to etohum for assistance. Etohum also provides the opportunity for a business plan to be evaluated by other companies, investors and peers. To aspiring internet entrepreneurs, I suggest you participate in etohum gatherings and watch etohum.tv. It’s an inspiring environment, and a great place to see what else is going on in cyberspace.
According to a study done by SM Bilişim, in the first 6 months of 2008 e-commerce transactions in Turkey were up 65% compared to 2007, reaching 3.9 billion YTL. In 2007 alone, e-commerce revenues in Turkey were 3.2 billion dollars, and are expected to reach 10 billion dollars by 2010.
That is impressive growth, and Gen Y entrepreneurs are already taking advantage of it. Maybe you should too. Even if you are working in a company, it shouldn’t prevent you from exploring business opportunities online. Who knows, you might even find an unexpected road to success, riches, and a life without cubicles.