And the winner is…
An amazing journey. That pretty sums it up I guess. Surprising too. But for sure we will do this again. Stage-Co is a platform for startups but it looked hard to get the startups out of their “cocon” and to perform a public pitch. We also added English as a request and that was the most commented one. But almost 30 startups in 3 days in 3 cities proves the potential for those who doubted. Including myself. We were very lucky with the local partners, DEPARK and Atmosfer in Izmir, Bilkent Cyberpark and Smarts United in Ankara and too many to mention in Istanbul. Kolektif House is the coolest place in Istanbul by far and I should not forget the jury and the great audience. Thank you all.
The purpose was to find 3 startups that will join the 2nd pitch round at the Pirate Summit in September. In each city we had around 10 startups we did not screen before. Kind of cold calling approach and it worked really great. Pitching 3 minutes is not the easiest thing if you are inexperienced but hat tip to all. Startups did great and in English. I will not elaborate on the quality or relevance, sometimes it is obvious, sometimes it is a personal feeling. What I did experience is that we had very different ones and that e-commerce was not anymore the main driver to start a new venture. The cities are clearly different in terms of types of startup ideas. Izmir with more R&D based startups, Istanbul and Ankara more SAAS and variations. The winners were Boro5 for Izmir, Appanalytics for Istanbul and Do Major for Ankara. We will hear from them before we go to Cologne in September for sure. Big congratz, they all deserved to win. Of course there are no losers. Every pitch experience is a step closer to success!
The jury consisted of investors. That is actually a great approach but this was at the same time my biggest disappointment. It shows also that we need some disruptors here to kick some ass. Firstseed was present in all 3 pitches. A young, in many senses, pre-seed investor that didn’t need much convincing to join us, on the contrary. Also 212ltd, BUBA and Viveka jumped on the boat without hesitation. With an ever growing number of Angel Network Investors in Turkiye, around 12 official, it is amazing how difficult it is to get them out of their comfort zone and go to startups, instead of sitting and waiting until startups come to them. It is clear that we need some more pro-active attitude from those who like so much the exponential markup on their invested money. I will not even mention the fact that if we ask for sponsoring, they keep their wallets closed. Luckily we had sponsoring from Smartcon (great conference on Iot), co-founded by Caglar Gogus, Cyberpark in Ankara and Elance. Big thanks to those wonderful people.
What I remember most of all is the positive vibe while we were visiting those 3 cities. The eagerness is there, the ideas are there and all we need to do is go to them, listen and help. We were very lucky Pirate Summit, with Till and Robbie, followed us on our stubborn way of working. Turkiye is different, and as a Belgian living here for almost 3 years I can only underline this. The aim of Stage-Co is to activate the startup scene and improve where we can, and without any modesty we can claim we set another step forward. And not the last one I am sure, together with great friends as Webrazzi, GBA and Etohum who helped and supported us with their networks! Arda, Ayse, Burak, Murat, Emrah, Ipek, Engin, Mine, Eren, Faruk, Nesen, Dilara, Ali, Enis, Kutay, Timusin, Till, Robbie, Ahmet, Ugur, Kazim, Taner and all those I forget, big hug!