An undiscovered vertical, sports!
I love Türkiye. The most asked question, besides if I speak fluent Turkish, is why I stay in Türkiye (not Turkey :)). Far from fluent, but eager to speak the language, Türkiye and the whole region is never dull, always something new on the horizon. Also the flexibility to overcome any obstacle in MEA is very impressive. From Sudan to Irak, I am always humbled by the dynamics how people handle obstacles. And there are more obstacles than you can imagine. We are preparing the pitch contest for Sportup Conference now and again I see the reluctance of most investors to be on the jury, not all but most. I remembered the winner of last year, Scoutium, and I wondered where they are now. We only had Sinan Güler, thanks again for joining, in the jury as an investor but we did have 10 startups in the sports environment!
I called Efe Aydin, now CEO and co-founder of Scoutium to understand what happened in this last year. At the Sportup 2017, the team of 3 presented an MVP and won. One year later they have a full fletched online platform working with 120 clubs, 17.000 evaluations and 10.000 users mainly from England and Turkiye. What do they offer? A crowd based platform for football to discover unscouted players with the help of fans and players. I admit I was at first sceptical too, but they have a great team and vision, and that paid off. In 3 rounds they were invested over 1.000.000 Dollars. After Sportup Pitch they won another pitch event and met with Gülsüm Çıracı from Istanbul Startup Angels. I worked with Gülsüm together at Startup Bootcamp in the early days and communicating was hard, she no English, me no Turkish but it was clear that she has a nose for business. At this time the ball started rolling. First as a team, after just Efe alone, had over 20 first meetings with different investors. Scoutium decided to go ahead with ISA for 100.000TL, 5% equity so a valuation of 2.000.000TL pre-money. Scoutium founders did some homework, talked to Insider and Evreka and saw that early stage in Turkey was valued between 1 and 2 million TL. In the Bay Area today, pre-money, it is the same amount in dollars, thus about 4 to 5 times higher. The next round was by ITU Cekirdek, indeed a university, 150.000TL for 6% and a ticket to the States with the ITU Gate program next to free office space for a year. Then came the big one, 1.000.000USD by Nokta Yatirim Holding, a Turkish company that is more active in the big industries but decided for their first startup investment to bet on Scoutium. The son of the owner, Ali Kececioglu is now a board member. No need to try to find info on the owners of Nokta Holding, they keep a very low profile.
The Bursa boys, as I would call them, Efe Aydin, Emre Ün and Safa Yerliyurt, had a remarkable last year, from MVP to a company with 20 employees today, employment only started 6 months ago. The real traction started when integrating the Player module, so players are also involved now. All 3 of them are sons of a family business in Bursa but moved to Istanbul to seek the opportunity to find investors. Good move but it also shows that besides Istanbul, not much can happen. The biggest traction on the platform comes from England so they started a local partnership in London with the aim to move there. They see England, Germany and Spain as their main markets with most potential. Once England has the right traction they will go for a next round to expand globally.
It was nice to hear when Efe said they wanted to run a global company. Rookies with a mission. Love it. An exit is the main goal after growing the company worldwide followed by starting another company. The real startup spirit we still lack in Türkiye, not a local company with a Turkish name but a global vision. Don’t forget, last year we could not make investors come to our Pitch event. One year later Scoutium is one of the rare success stories as very early stage startup. Amin to that.
Patrick Bosteels, Stage-Co Co-Founder
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