How global startups can benefit from being in the US: example

In addition to business development, securing partnership and local marketing, I believe that global startups can benefit vastly from visiting the US entrepreneurial centers, without having to move their operations.

Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator(ERA) and Global Startups:

At ERA, we are a very global team. I grew up in Turkey, lived in Japan for 2 years out of my past 20 years in the US. My partner Charlie was born in Brazil, grew up in Mexico, moved to US for college, was a VC in Brazil in the early 2000’s. My other partner Jon worked extensively with international partners as an entrepreneur and sold his previous company to an international company.

As a result, ERA Summer 2012 program has an amazing startup from Brazil that moved to New York for the program:


And last year we hosted 2 Jordanian startups at our offices to help them launch into the US market. (My thoughts on 10 reasons why it’s a great time to be a global startup)

We are actively looking for more great global startups to join ERA in our upcoming programs (We run two programs per year, starting in January and June, application form is here and our latest class announcement on TechCrunch is here.)


(TurkTechNet May 2012 Demo Day)

I have been very fortunate to help Turkish government officials with their very entrepreneurial non-profit project: which was graciously sponsored by Turkish Economy Bank.

This non-profit, fully volunteer-based effort brought 10 top technology startups from Turkey to New York for a week of bootcamp/training and a demo day at no cost to the promising startups. The 10 startups were chosen from close to 200 applications after a face-to-face interview process in Istanbul.

I was involved as a volunteer along with the top organizers Serhan Kara (Turkish Consulate General, Commercial Attache), Ayse Akkiraz Dagdur (Turkish Consulate General, Economy Attache), Celal Secilmis (Turkish American Chamber of Commerce and Industry, President and Executive Board Member, Chairman of the America Region Committee at DTIK: World Turkish Business Council), Sinem Uluturk (METUTECH Business Angels Network), Mustafa Ihsan Kiziltas (METUTECH General Manager, METUTECH Business Angels Network), Hursel Kendir (METUTECH Business Angels Network), Fatih Ozluturk (Patentory, ERA), Atil Erken (Chronus Health), Cigdem Acar (Acar Law Firm) and Murat Bicer (RTP Ventures).

I was fortunate enough to meet and work closely with these 10 Turkish startups:

Hazelcast is a software company specialized in scalable NoSQL solutions. Its flagship product, Hazelcast, is a clustering and in-memory big data storage solution enabling applications to scale on-demand. It is used to store and process terabytes of data in-memory. Our customers include Morgan Stanley, Cisco and Mozilla. Gartner recognized Hazelcast as a “Cool Vendor” in 2012. Contact:

Founded in 2011, Gideros Mobile provides full fledged and easy to use cross-platform technology for creating games and interactive books. Gideros Mobile directly targets developers and game studios. Released in February 2012 and showed steady growth, reaching 5000+ unique users from more than 50 countries globally. Contact:

Zibumi develops games for hardcore players by leveraging innovative game mechanics, based on content oriented storytelling and memorable experiences. Zibumi’s 40+ games reaches over 20 million international players on PC and Apple App Store. Contact:

Netmera is a cloud-based Platform as a Service for developing mobile and web applications. Mobile or web developers can create their apps in minutes using our super simple API and services which include iOS and Android SDK’s, HTML5 access, and fully functional payment gateway for monthly subscriptions and virtual goods selling. The API is already been used by more than 100 mobile services in leading mobile operators of Turkey. In addition, we opened as a self service platform for developers, with over 100 developers that signed up in less than a month. Contact:

Kade Vision designs and produces V-Count, which is an embedded People Counting Solution with a web based Real World visitor traffic and conversion rate analytics. Nearly 2000 V-Count devices are serving to its customers in retail industry  across 8 countries and helping them increase their profits and awareness on visitor traffic patterns. Contact:

KREA Direct is a 10 year-old direct marketing company which launched a unique product in e-mail marketing in 2010 called Valuemail, that creates a NEW content generation, advertising & retargeting opportunity for senders, publishers & advertisers. We grew to the second largest e-mail marketing company in less than 2 years with a 951% growth rate in the first quarter of 2012. Contact:

Botego builds text-based automated customer interaction software. Our tools answer customer questions on the web, mobile, instant messaging, and e-mail in a given domain. So we help increase customer satisfaction and reduce customer service costs. Customers include Coca Cola, Johnson&Johnson, Unilever, Group SEB, and other top brands from Turkey, where Botego is the market maker. The company has already raised $400.000 and is cash flow positive. Contact:

Pixofun is the leading gaming company in Turkey that designs, develops and publishes mobile and social games with sophisticated social mechanics on cross platforms. Pixofun has 44% market share in mobile games and achieved $5M annual revenue in 2011. Pixofun sold more than 10M mobile games in Turkey and has two games in Facebook with 20% engagement rate among their 2M users. Pixofun wants to expand internationally and aims to replicate its success in mobile games also in social gaming. Contact:

Dakick is a Personalized Event Recommendation based on User Profiles, Interests, Social Graph, Proximity and User Availability. It collects contents like tv, cinema, sports, performing arts, concerts-parties, conferences, fairs, exhibitions and distributes it in a personalized way to its subscribers. Dakick raised $630K in seed stage. Contact:

Hediyemo is the creator and market leader for “social and mobile gifting service” in Turkey. 200K gifts sent from 25 leading retailers by consumers and corporations in 2011. Contact:

The Bootcamp:


At the 4-day Bootcamp leading up to the Demo Day, we tried to expose the Turkish entrepreneurs to as many New York entrepreneurs and investors as possible through panel discussions, talks, workshops and Q&A sessions.

We even had a workshop on  international funding with top attorneys in the field as well as discussions with US entrepreneurs that have recently raised money or sold their companies. The bootcamp also heavily focused on high-level business strategy sessions and improving their pitch decks. Overall the feedback from the Turkish entrepreneurs was extremely positive.

Speakers at the Bootcamp (thanks to all):

Atil Erken (Organizer of the Bootcamp and Chronus Health)

Fatih Ozluturk (Patentory, ERA)

David Silver (MedTrackAlert)

Vivek Sharma (MovableInk)

Jean-Marc Freuler (Funding Gates)

Jon Axelrod (ER Accelerator)

John Frankel (FF Venture Capital)

Christina Cacioppo (Union Square Ventures)

Brian Adams (AdMeld – acquired by Google)

Jake Howerton (Zipmark)

Inaki Berenguer (Pixable)

Ulas Neftci (CUNY Baruch Small Business Development Center)

Lucas Nelson (DFJ Gotham Ventures)

Steve Berg (RTP Ventures)

Murat Bicer (RTP Ventures)

Demo Day:

TurkTechNet May 2012 Demo Day was very successful with great pitches from the Turkish companies and great response from the US investors. The pitches from the companies were very clear, precise and communicated the company and the potential to the investors.

(Demo Day video will be available shortly at

Demo Day was followed by a press conference hosted by Turkey Consule General Levent Bilgen and a reception at the Turkish Embassy.

What the Startups Said They Learned:

* Startup Culture
There are definitely differences in the startup cultures in different parts of the world and the Turkish entrepreneurs said they were highly inspired by their US counterparts. Some said they will go back to Turkey with more ‘purpose’ and at a higher level of execution.

* Overall business strategy on going global
The entrepreneurs tested their main assumptions at the Bootcamp about their high-level strategies on going global and got very valuable feedback and suggestions on how to scale their local success to a global audience.

* Pitching to US investors
The bootcamp heavily focused on preparing the startups for the Demo Day, hence learning how to pitch to US investors was communicated throughout the week. The presentations that were very good to start with were fine-tuned and Demo Day was a huge success.

* Fundraising
There were workshops on forms of fundraising in the US, about equity rounds, convertible notes, warrants, and stock options. Also bootcamp emphasized how US investors invest in foreign entities (direct, through Netherlands, Luxembourg, through a Delaware C-corp, etc).

* Execution strategy
Some companies decided to structure and prioritize their businesses in a different way after the Bootcamp to maximize their chances of going global. For example, consulting parts of businesses were de-emphasized with the product portion of the business getting a new name and a separate entity and becoming the only focus of the company.

* Go to market strategy
The entrepreneurs learned heavily about how to launch their products in the US market. Listening how to do this from experienced US entrepreneurs was extremely useful.

* One-on-one mentoring
Teams had one-on-one mentoring throughout the bootcamp, which was experienced by some of them for the first time and they loved it. They said they had not experienced this before and it was extremely useful to them.

The TurkTechNet project was a huge success and I am looking forward to working with more global startups both at ERA and TurkTechNet in the future. We at ERA believe this model of bringing strong international startup tech companies to the US to gain know-how, as well as access to business development and investment dollars, is going to grow in importance. We look forward to investing in and supporting more of these global companies moving forward.