2020 in a Nutshell - StartupsWatch Annual Report

March 3, 2021

2020 has started over promising developments in theTurkish startup ecosystem.  In the startup ecosystem, Turkey has its idiosyncratic features among Europe Funding League and MENA Funding League. Being at the first league in both lists, Turkish startup ecosystem continues producing new initiatives and supporting entrepreneurs in 2020.

In 2020 gaming was the industry, the most prevalent for investors. Although being at the second place in 2019, SaaS category fell to the 5th place, leaving its place to the AI category which was placed below SaaS, as 3rd, in 2019. 

In numbers, Healthtech, AI and Fintech startups could not preserve the increasing trend over the years 2018, 2019 and 2020. Startups operating in gaming sector continued increasing trend, raising up to 70 in 2020, from 47 in 2018. 

Middle East Technical University hosted the most startup founders; while Istanbul Technical University has the highest number of funded founders in 2020. Amongst startups founded in 2020, the university which produced the most founders was Anadolu University. In second place was Middle East Technical University, followed by Yıldız Technical University.

In 2020, Turkish Angel & Venture Capital investors funded 165 startups with invested $139M total, raising the amount from $106M in 2019 and breaking funding record of 2017, with $113M. While substantial amount of investments were supplied by legal structures in Turkey in 2017, the ratio fell below 50% in 2020, equalling $78M of fundings from legal structures abroad, for only 14% of the deals.


Among industries, SaaS, AI and Marketingtech received the highest fundings in total;  whereas SaaS, Fintech and Healthtech achieved the highest number of deals in total.

Due to pandemics in 2020 many companies started working remotely. Transition to remote created increased the importance and interest to SaaS solutions. 

In 2020 most corporations significantly increased their presence in the startup ecosystem, breaking previous records for both number of deals and total investments made. This year, 37% of the funding deals included at least one corporate investor making 27% of the investments ($37M) were made by corporate investors. 

In Turkey three corporations, Alesya Yatırım, Teknogirişim GSYF and Teknasyon accounted for 29 of the corporate funding deals, severely boosting the corporate footprint. Alesta Yatırım, on its own participated in 15 funding deals, topping the list as the most active corporate investor in 2020.

2020 experienced a decline in the percentage of female founders amongst new ventures. Amongst the 165 startups that raised funds in this year, 34 of them featured female founders, equalling an amount to $43M. Substantial amount of startups are founded by male entrepreneurs in 2020, continuing the trend over the decade.

In 2020, 10 new Venture Capital funds were established, having raised $267M accordingly, marking the highest total VC funding until the year 2020. As the petite for startup investing continued to increase, 3 new Corporate Venture Capital funds were also established during 2020.

Peak Games, the largest VC-backed exit in Europe in 2020 with $1.85B acquisition, became Turkey’s first official unicorn and contributed to the growth of appetite for startups in Turkey. 

Rollic, with a $180M acquisition also became the fastest startup to go from establishment to exit, achieving this in just 20 months.

Vivense’s $130M exit should also be taken into consideration, earning back a substantial multiple for its angel and VC investors, besides receiving much attention and in DataRow by Amazon in 2020.

Gökhan Şeheri
Related Categories
No items found.

Read More