“Is entrepreneurship a next-generation trend or a sector to remain permanently in our lives?” might be considered one of the popular topics discussed recently. Even though the foundations of the entrepreneurship in Türkiye have started to be laid back in 2010, as of 2016, the “Incubators” and “Accelerators” opened in the metropolitan cities, in particular, Istanbul, have led to an increase in the entrepreneurship activities and in the awareness people had. The entrepreneurship activities have indeed increased but whether we have really established the start-up culture might still keep being the biggest question mark for everyone.
If we go back in time a little, when one talked about start-ups before only 2 years, people thought of individuals who established their own business such as a chee kofte or lokma store through a franchise system. However, as the start-ups such as Getir, Trendyol, Dream Games, and so on made the headline of the newspapers as “Unicorns”, the perceptions of people have changed. In fact, they have changed so much that families of many young entrepreneurs willing their children to have a job with insurance and fixed salary several years ago are now considering entrepreneurship more favorable. Well then, can we attribute this to the billion-dollar company valuations and the investments they receive or to the fact that the whole world has economically come to a deadlock and turned to innovative technologies?
This is a challenging question and has a just as complex answer. Yet, as a matter of fact, the technology that changed our lives via web2 has rapidly evolved through concepts such as mobile phones, artificial intelligence, and blockchain technology. It has become hard for large companies and even governmental institutions to quickly adapt to this change. The concept of digital transformation has caused large companies to find out that they cannot cope with this issue by themselves. Thereby, the start-ups that are dynamic, quick, and able to pivot made up of teams much smaller in comparison have appeared. These sum up what we call entrepreneurship.
At the beginning of the article, we asked if we have managed to create an entrepreneurial culture. But unfortunately, my answer is no! I would like to explain why I gave this answer in a few different ways. Perhaps the most common question entrepreneurs face is: “Why would large companies and holdings approach you and use your product/service while they can do it themselves?!” I’m pretty sure that entrepreneurs reading these lines have encountered this question or reaction at least once. Please stop here and read the line above once again. As we said, start-ups are dynamic and quick structures. They consist of small teams and are able to pivot, which means that they are able to change the business plan according to the customer’s demand. Large companies are cumbersome, and they are bound to be so. Bureaucratic processes are long and tiring in such companies. In start-ups, however, there are no bureaucratic processes and they offer solutions to the problems of these large structures in a short time with a less budget.
Another reason why we cannot create an entrepreneurial culture is actually our entrepreneurs themselves. Here, we can say that the foundation of education in Türkiye is based on multiple-choice questions and that our young people are introduced to entrepreneurship at a very late age. Today, our high school students are working on developing innovative business ideas and participating in competitions, and we can even show examples of students establishing companies through their parents, but they are still very few in number. The culture called start-up has spread all over the world from the USA, but I can summarize the secret of these start-ups in two words: Presentation skill! Yes, you heard right, the system in the USA asks the children to tell everything he/she does from the age of 4 through the story he/she has created in his/her mind. Children who are constantly asked to develop an idea and explain it become able to develop ideas by noticing the problem around them from a young age and to convey the idea they have developed to the other party in the simplest and most correct manner. Maybe it’s time for us to switch to a system where our children can express themselves more easily instead of giving them multiple-choice options.
Besides, becoming obsessed with his/her own idea, ignoring criticism and moving on, not making plans to open up to the global market from the very beginning, and dreaming of smaller dreams are also obstacles that an entrepreneur unwittingly puts on himself/herself. The rule of thumb for becoming a successful entrepreneur is to be open to change. Another issue is to get as much network as possible. Entrepreneurs should not hesitate to participate in events and competitions. Each competition and event will introduce you to a new person, to a new perspective. Remember, through a new perspective, you can come up with a different entrepreneurial idea or a different business model for your start-up!
The other and biggest reason is that institutions do not really value this field. The number of companies that hold events and competitions related to entrepreneurship has increased in the last two years, both thanks to the decrease in costs and the fact that they see this area as a social responsibility project. Supporting entrepreneurs should not be done with giving a prize of TRY 10,000 in just one competition. Yes, these are without a doubt very valuable, but not enough. Unfortunately, it is also not enough to open an innovation department and get in-house entrepreneurship training to achieve this transformation. First of all, companies that want to do this business must find and hire an entrepreneur, incubator employee, or people who invest in start-ups, or they must make a contract as a consultant. These qualified, knowledgeable people should be asked to train personnel within the organization.
The second point in institutions is establishing mutual funds. Just being a client of a start-up is not enough. At the same time, by investing in different levels, companies can increase their power and achieve digital transformation. In order not to miss the train and these next-generation technologies, they must build this area and invest in themselves first and then in start-ups. In order for the entrepreneurship ecosystem to grow and this culture to be formed, we need to create a cycle where the system, institutions, and entrepreneurs are together. Hence, it will be inevitable for us to grow both technologically and economically.
CEO / DİİCİ- Ecem Çuhacı Küçük