8 Istanbul companies thriving through the chaos
Istanbul has had a rough time of it lately. The city's streets have been rocked by bombs, massive protests, police crackdowns and an attempted coup. Life online isn't much easier — the Turkish media has come under intense pressure to tow a government line, access to social media and Wikipedia is regularly blocked and bloggers are being persecuted for 'insulting' the president. Even Enes Kanter of Oklahoma City Thunder is feeling the pressure. While you'd think this environment would result in a complete collapse of the city's tech industry, techy Turks seem to have simply turned on their VPNs and soldiered on.
Istanbul's tech industry may not be as developed or as large as its Western European counterparts, but it's been around for a long time. In fact, many of the city's homegrown successes have been noticed and subsequently gobbled up by foreign behemoths for large sums. Gittigidiyor was bought by San Jose-based eBay in 2011 for $217 million, Pozitron was bought by London-based Monetise for $100 million in 2014 and Yemeksepeti was bought by Berlin-based Delivery Hero for $589 in 2015.
Who's next? Here are 8 Turkish tech companies you should check out:
Trendyol is an online fashion e-commerce site that boasts over 10 million members. The company sells their own clothing brand, trendyolMilla, and also offers fashions from over 2,000 other brands around the world. You can think of the company kind of like Gilt Group, just for Turkey (Gilt does ship internationally, but with some regulatory nightmares attached). Trendyol has raised over $50 million since launching in 2010.
oBilet is an online platform that allows users to buy bus or airplane tickets with the click of a button. Turkey is home to a hundreds, if not thousands, of privately run bus companies and oBilet lets you sift through them all in a few seconds. The company was founded in 2013 by two Turkish industrial engineering students who were frustrated when trying to buy a ticket home for the holidays. Today, the company sells millions of tickets a year and has expanded into the Baltics. Targoviste, here we come.
Dugun's online platform guides lovebirds through the process of a putting together a wedding. Through their website a couple can shop for a wedding dress, find a location, pick out invitations, select a photographer, and just about anything else they might need for their big day. The company also offers online tools that make the whole process easier. Dugun was founded in 2007 by three people and was originally headquartered in a hostel. Today, they have a real office, and over half of Turkey’s newly engaged use the platform — which equals out to around 300,000 couples a year. Interestingly, the founding team has yet to wed.
Think of BiTaksi kind of like a Turkish, homegrown version of Uber that uses the city's existing taxi fleet. Getting a taxi in Istanbul, although ubiquitous, can be a real pain, especially for tourists. The service operates in English and Turkish, and allows passengers to pay for their cabs through the app. Since launching in 2013, BiTaksi has skyrocketed and it remains far more popular than Uber (which also operates in Istanbul). BiTaksi raised a $2 million Series A in 2013.
Sahibinden is Turkey’s online classified section — think Craigslist — where seemingly anything can be bought or sold. This is the place to go if you're looking for a used cars, phone, job, pet or anything else you don't want to buy from a store. If you happen to find yourself in the market for a grove of almond trees in the countryside, you'll find it on Sahibinden.
Hepsiburada is Turkey’s 21st Century online Grand Bazaar — or at least their Amazon.com. The e-commerce giant sells everything from diapers to gym equipment and promises to deliver it to your door. The company was founded in 2001 and now has over 30 million items for sale with over 10 million users.
Kariyer is where you go if you want a job in Turkey. The online recruitment platform currently has over 80,000 jobs listed in everything from security to retail to health. As you might expect, there are plenty of engineering and IT jobs listed as well. Kariyer has been around since 1999 and over the years they've managed to collect over 24 million resumes in their database.
Yemeksepeti is for those days when you really want some Kofta, but just can’t seem to face the day. Of course, the service goes far beyond delivering Turkish food and so long as you're in their delivery zone you can get anything from Krispy Kreme donuts to KFC to Turkish diet food. The company was founded in 2000 and bought by Germany's Delivery Hero in 2015 for $589 million.
Images via companies featured.