Turkey's technological capabilities, supported by the ongoing reform process and customized incentives, have altogether created a thriving startup ecosystem in Turkey over the years. The Turkish startup ecosystem has all the key stakeholders in place, ranging from business angel networks to venture capital and private equity funds on the funding side, and from accelerators to technoparks, mentors and the government agencies on the supporting side.
Turkey has a population of 83.6 million, with a median age of 32.7, giving the country the largest youth pool in the EU.
This growing population is both digitally connected and active as evidenced by the fact that Turkey is the 10th largest market for Facebook, 6th largest market for Instagram, 6th largest market for Twitter, 3rd largest market for TikTok, 8th largest market for YouTube, and the 15th largest market for LinkedIn globally. Furthermore, Turkey is the 7th largest market for mobile apps, based on the total number of app downloads. With these figures, Turkey proves to be a perfect production and testing ground for technology developers.
Turkey boasts one of the largest talent pools in Europe and the MENA region with around 1 million university graduates per year, including over 40,000 engineering and engineering trade graduates.
While the Turkish startup ecosystem garnered record-high investments of USD 137 million in 2020, investments figures in the first half of 2021 have already exceeded USD 1 billion threshold, setting a new record for the year.
- In the past two years, the Turkish startup ecosystem created four unicorns: Peak Games, Trendyol, Getir and Dream Games.
- The US-based interactive entertainment company Zynga acquired the Turkish mobile game developer Peak Games for USD 1.8 billion in June 2020. Peak Games' early-stage investors included Earlybird Ventures, Hummingbird Ventures, and Endeavor Global.
- Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba acquired an 82 percent stake in Turkish e-marketplace Trendyol for USD 782 million in 2018. Moreover, Alibaba invested USD 350 million in Trendyol in a corporate round in March 2021, bringing Trendyol's total valuation to USD 9.35 billion.
- Turkish grocery delivery company Getir raised USD 978 million in its Serie-B, C and D funding rounds in 2021. Getir's valuation reached USD 7.5 billion in the last round that was finalized in June 2021. Getir's investors include Sequoia Capital, Tiger Global, Silver Lake, and Mubadala Investment Company.
- In June 2021, mobile puzzle games developer Dream Games raised USD 155 million in a Serie-B funding round which carried the startup's value to USD 1 billion.
- Turkey expects more unicorns to emerge in the near future with the help of a mature startup ecosystem, a large and young population with high-tech penetration rates, an affordable and a competent developer pool, an increasing investment trend in diverse sectors of industry, and successful exits to global companies.
- International financial investors are very welcomed to invest in the Turkish startup ecosystem, either directly or through funds to benefit from the next successful exit rounds.