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Panel Session on Startup Culture

This article is written by Jeremiah Uke, a Contributor Author at Startup Istanbul.

Talip Ozturk, founder of Hazelcast, Allen Taylor, vice president of Endeavour, Christopher Schroeder is a serial entrepreneur, venture capitalist and author of the book “Startup Rising”, Ali Kutay is an American entrepreneur currently working with his the fifth startup, they were all part of a panel session at Etohum San Francisco conference, where they took questions from the audience and answered amongst themselves.

Talip Ozturk founded Hazelcast which is an open source in-memory data grid based on Java, Talip started Hazelcast years ago and has been able to raise $14 million so far and has about 75 people in his team around the world. Allen Taylor runs Endeavour’s office in San Francisco, Endeavour is an organization headquartered in New York City that is pioneering the concept of high-impact entrepreneurship in growth markets around the world. Endeavour has a portfolio of about 800 companies with about 35 of them located in Turkey, Allen helps to connect entrepreneurs and startups everywhere in the world to mentors and investors in Silicon Valley. Over the last 4-5 years, Endeavour has helped 100-120 companies raise about $750 million in equity.

Christopher Schroeder has been a serial entrepreneur with venture-backed companies in the united states, and is currently a venture capitalist for mostly American firms but is currently investing with some partners in the growth market, he is passionate about the changes happening across the Middle-East and Turkey, he wrote a book titled “Startup Rising” which documents all the revolution going on in the ecosystem. Ali Kutay has worked with 5 companies as an entrepreneur, his first company started as his Ph.D. thesis with his professor and a few Ph.D. students, this led to his first startup in 1985 called Vortec which was acquired in 4 years, he then started a company called Web Logic which was the first application server company, he merged Web Logic with BEA which took it public, the merger hit $32 billion in market capitalization after which he left. In 2000, Ali joined Goldengate Software, he helped make a couple hundred million dollars for Goldengate after which it was acquired by Oracle in 2010. Currently, on his fifth startup, Ali has investments in about 15 startups including Hazelcast, now over 8000 companies use Hazelcast. The four panelists took a few questions from the audience which include:

  1. Considering the rapid change we have witnessed in the last 10 years, What are we to expect in the ecosystem in the next 10 years?

ALI: When you run a startup and start getting sales in the United Sales, you want to expand traditionally to Canada, then to the United Kingdom and Japan, after which you start setting up your Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, this was exactly what we did, but in 2006, he hired a Vice President of sales who advised him to expand to Turkey, and in the next 3 years, they had 140 customers in Turkey, what amazed me was the entrepreneurial talent in Turkey.

CHRISTOPHER: Neurologically, our brains are programmed to think that the next 5 years will be like the last 5 years, if anyone ever tells you we are in a bubble, do not believe them, innovations such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence, cryptocurrency are innovations that will and are already shaping the world, those technologies being available in all parts of the world means that people using them are going to fly past those who sit back and neglect the power of innovation. You all represent a free flow and demonstrate that you are tied to nothing and that technologies will keep on revamping economies continuously.

─ April 27, 2020