One of the outcomes of the “Exchange of Entrepreneurs” program: the Turkish professor is now seeking funding to set up centers similar to Tumo.
And what practical benefit did the Armenian entrepreneurs receive from the visit to Turkey?
The news is the purple cow
In the last days of stay in Turkey, on February 27-28, the Armenian Information and Communication Technology Delegation attended the Startup Turkey event in Antalya. Recall that the visit took place under the “Exchange of Entrepreneurs’” project implemented by the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV) and the Public Journalism Club (PJC) within the framework of the ‘‘Support to the Armenia-Turkey Normalization Process’’ program funded by the European Union.
This year, one of the speakers of the Startup Turkey was Mike Butcher, the Editor-At-Large of TechCrunch, one of the leading news source about technologies. He has worked for such periodicals, such as The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, etc., and is considered to be one of the most influential persons in the industry of new media and technologies.
Herewith, having such a considerable experience, he was giving advice to the Startup Turkey attendees on how to gain the media attention. Let’s single out a few of his advice, they might be useful to our new entrepreneurs too. “The news is the purple cow. The news is that the person has bit the dog. Just the fact that you are a startup venture is not news. Or the fact that you exist is not news,” says he and hints how one can be a part of the news. “Conversations are better than press reports,” in addition, he listed what facts should be composed to raise interest. In addition to informing that you have elaborated a new attachment, you should also convey why it is better than the existing ones, and promise that it would be the exclusive of the mass media, and provide links for additional information. You can see the full list illustrated by TechCrunch editor in the photo.
Armenians in Startup Turkey
To the point, TechCrunch has not yet referred to the Apps of Shadowmatic puzzle created by the Armenian Triada Studio Games. And the Armenian delegation member Arpine Grigoryan immediately seizes this opportunity to show the game to Mike Butcher. He liked the Shadowmatic.
It is remarkable how Pavel Snkhchyan, Vice President of Sourcio IT Consulting Company, was presenting their program on checking the eye sight and maintaining the eye health. He was approaching the ones who were wearing optical glasses and suggesting them to test it by presenting what kind of project is this and what problems it solves. To the question of “Aravot” of what were the reactions, Pavel Snkhchyan replied, “There were very positive reactions from all sides.”
As Startup Turkey also creates an opportunity to set up business relationships with the investors, we were interested to know whether it was possible to achieve some agreements with the investors in the meantime, Pavel Snkhchyan replied that they did not pursue the problem of “catching” especially investors. “Simply, we wanted to spread more information about our program. And it actually will automatically lead to the investors, because only the good name is worth much, and it would be easier for us to negotiate with this-or-that investor in the future.” To the question of whether this meeting enabled to set up new contacts, he replied, “Absolutely. It can be said without exaggeration that I acquired more than 10 good contacts with whom we plan to work in the future and see what kind of partnership ways we will have.”
Eliminating the borders between the two countries
The award ceremony for Startup Turkey winners was conducted by Professor of the Istanbul MEF University Erhan Erkut, whom “Aravot” interviewed separately below.
– In your opinion, do Armenia-Turkey relations in the Startup industry have prospective or future?
– I think so. I think that entrepreneurship, in particular, and economics, in general, do not recognize any boundaries. Consequently, we can certainly benefit from collaboration, as by collaborating to will improve the welfare of all countries in this region.
– But do you think any Turkish investor may invest in a newly established enterprise in Armenia under these conditions that there are no diplomatic relations between our two countries?
– Absolutely. The Turkish investors are not limited by the government or by the diplomacy. They are in the business of making money. They will go wherever they think they can make money. And as far as I know there are no restrictions on investing in any country in the world.
– What do you think, can the absence of relations between Armenia and Turkey effect on the IT industry too?
– I think that this actually is the best place to improve the relations, because the entrepreneurs, scientists and investors are not bound by what politicians or governments think. They do what they think is the best for themselves and for the community and for the humanity. So, I think there is great potential for collaboration. There are problems of access, for example, travelling between our countries is difficult. But I think we need to work together to get over this problems. Maybe we would send some Turkish entrepreneurs to Armenia and bring some Armenian entrepreneurs to Turkey. Really, I mean we send some of our best entrepreneurs to Europe, US and so on. This is really a cross boundary business and I think it has therefore a great potential to help improve relations, because it’s a natural place to start.
– If I’m not mistaken, you visited Armenia last year, was there any project that you were interested in and do you see any potential for that project?
– I was actually very impressed with the Armenian IT ecosystem. I was expecting to see a less developed ecosystem, but I was impressed to find out that 3.5% of all Armenian exports are IT-based, while this number in Turkey is less than 1%.
I was really impressed with Tumo center. In fact, I will give you a secret. I am trying to build something like Tumo center in Turkey now. I want to improve if possible… maybe I wouldn’t say improve, but to built something like Tumo center in certain ways, but more like incubation and techno park oriented than Tumo center.
So, currently I’m actually looking for funding to establish series of 15 Tumo centers across Turkey. I will call them entrepreneurship factories or entrepreneurship schools.
I was also very impressed with the Hachathon at Gyumri. I couldn’t believe that there were 270 high school students hacking, programming. And when we went over to them to talk, they said that they were able to speak to us in English. This cannot be expected in Turkey. Most high school students don’t speak English well enough to converse in English with a foreigner.
So, I think we have something to learn from Armenia and I would say there complementary benefits. What I realized while I was there is that Turkish markets sizes are very attractive for Armenian investors, and the access of the US Armenian investors and the Armenian Diaspora is very attractive to Turkish entrepreneurs. So, this is a clear potential for collaboration.
I would like to see more partnerships between Armenia and Turkey entrepreneurs. So when a Turk and an Armenian collaborate on a new business, would you call it a Turkish business or an Armenian business? It’s neither. It’s a business. Okay. I think this is how we can actually work on taking down the mental barriers and boundaries between the countries.
– For you, is it possible for the Armenian delegation to be able to attend the next Startup Turkey and present its programs?
– I am not wanna be the organizer of Startup events but my advice to the organizers is to include as many countries as possible. And when you come to for example a startup in Istanbul, you realize that it’s not a national event. There were 900 participants last year and about 400 to 500 of them were from abroad. There were really no national panels. The panels were all mixed: Indians, Americans, Russians, all sorts of nationalities were mixed.
I would like to see Armenians in that group as well. I did see some people from Iran, some people from Greece, Romania and Russia. I would like to see Armenians as well. I would like to see more Arabs. I would like to see more people from the entire region coming together, because entrepreneurship doesn’t have this nationalistic boundaries.
What will be in the next stage?
We asked the Head of Public Journalism Club Seda Muradyan about what comes next after the “Exchange of Entrepreneurs” project. “This is the first time that such kind of exchange program is conducted between these sectors. We already hope for a response visit, which will enable to further strengthen the ties that were established in Yerevan. We the organizers, do not perceive this as a short-term project, because her we have already agreed on our long-term plans.”
There are already new ideas, it remains to raise funds. First, you want the Armenian entrepreneurs to have the opportunity for the next Startup Turkey to present their projects to investors and generally, the potential of the IT industry in Armenia. “In general, we consider this event first of all as obtaining contacts and the ability to communicate directly with the investors. Secondly, currently, after the first visit, we have started a long-term program. Three startup from Armenia and three startup from Turkey (already supported by the US Embassy) pass to the four-year program, which includes an online consultation. In other words, the experts from Armenia and Turkey are helping their teams to develop their ideas and get to the finished product.”
Later, according to Seda Muradyan, all these 6 teams in Armenia will have the opportunity to present their programs in the presence of investors. “And it depends on their talent whether they will be able to attract these investors, whom we will invite, obtain investments or not. However, we are going to have 4,000 euro for the best startup idea and a prize for the team.”