The Superpower of The Internet in The Hands of Entrepreneurs

This article is written by Mohammad Eslim, a Contributor Author at Startup Istanbul.

Teruhide Sato was a founding member of the Japanese arm of CyberCash, a U.S. online payment company (now known as Venus), and a joint venture with SoftBank Corporation. During this time, in 1997, Teru was studying at the Faculty of Policy Management, Keio University. In 1999, he was co-founder of BEENOS (formerly known as, a global internet and e-commerce business incubator.

Aurore Belfrage is a tech entrepreneur, investor, and a partner at EQT Ventures with a specific focus on Artificial Intelligence and GovTech. She is a syndicated columnist with leading Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet (SVD) and a contributor to POLITICO. She writes on issues at the intersection of geopolitics, ethics, governance, labor and future of work.

Aurore Belfrage and Teruhide Sato were special guests at Startup Istanbul 2015, where they had a fireside chat on business.

Just in the last century, not anyone has predicted let alone imagined that we can start, run, or scale a business across the continent from the comfort of our homes. That was the internet, the superpower of the eighties.

This power has moved rapidly in the world’s everything. Every fiber, every bit of data is now on the world’s wide web stored in these small networks connecting into a huge network called the internet. Now the world has the same access to the world’s data and every knowledge a human came to is recorded and under the use of our very own fingertips, can you imagine how resourceful is that?! 

Yet we are still far from the significant effect it had on the world’s business whether in growing it, scaling it into a world’s leading business like Netscape which is now owned by Microsoft. Or in starting your own business using the internet. It’s better to understand how much of an affect the internet had on our life when you look at what a person can do by only using his smartphone and an internet connection.

What we consider as the power of the internet is the power shift it made towards the small guys and individuals’ SMEs and we are not talking about the big guys who already have their own place in the market. I think that for a fact the beauty of a marketplace is not only in the product marketplace but also in the service marketplace, Uber can be also considered a wonderful marketplace on the light of it fostering small entrepreneurs to make more money if they tried to.

In fact, it’s believed that those businesses can have exponential growth opportunities because it creates jobs, makes wealth, brings more prosperity and creates a network effect that is a great spot a lot of owners and investors focus on when they are going for investments.

Another point very important for entrepreneurs going into a small businesses is marketing, mostly in the Middle East it’s considered an afterthought, they think that once they grow into the company they want and have the capital they raised to buy advertisements instead of understanding the emotional need they are creating and how to create marketing around that.

Those entrepreneurs in these new markets have grown from zero ground into a self-made small business of their own. If they are seen in need of coaching and training then it’s fine as long as you don’t dictate how they work or decide on their behalf and always remember they are entrepreneurs who popped up from the ground.    

For example, an entrepreneur has launched his business in Myanmar, which is a kind of an isolated country, and his business has scales in these hard conditions and found investments from investors out of his country due to his thoughtfulness in using his resources- especially the internet, when he ‘somehow’ raised money and ‘somehow’ he was able to start his businesses.  

These entrepreneurs, who are sharing the same opportunities, building similar businesses or facing the same conditions and problems, even if they are of different countries are put together as a method in order to exchange ideas and suggest what are the best solutions and plans to put such a powerful resource, meaning the internet, into use with suitable marketing techniques to reach the best result they could so they can finally enter the competition with the giants. 


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