On March 2nd, Hackquarters organized Fintech & Investments Meetup of the Visa Innovation Program Turkey with the participation of alumni fintechs and investors. Visa Innovation Program graduates, fintech startup founders who have raised investment of more than $6.7 million; talked about the investment process, the obstacles they encountered during these periods, and how they overcame these challenges. This event provided an opportunity to get insights about fundraising from both the perspectives, of startups and investors.
The meetup began with the introduction speech of Hackquarters CEO Kaan Akın. Kaan shared the track record and value proposition of the Visa Innovation Program.
More than 300 startups have applied so far; with 15 fintechs graduated from the program. In total, $6.7 mn already raised and still in process. Visa Innovation Program covers the fintechs working on Developing Next-Generation Payment Experiences, Empowering SMEs, Unlocking New Payment Flows, and Building a Smarter and Sustainable Future. Selected startups are all supported with a large number of program benefits ranging from PoC & Partnership Opportunities with companies in Hackquarters and Visa’s networks to access to funding & VCs. You can still apply for this year’s batch until March 20.
After Kaan’s introduction, Fintech Visa, Director Onur Çakır, Norma’s CEO Hakan Gonca and Norma’s investor Global Founders Capital’s Partner Onur Erbay took the stage to talked about “Series A Investment of Norma”.
“As Global Founder Capital’s partners, we all have an entrepreneurial background; we’ve started companies, and some of us have notable success stories. We can approach startups from the founders' perspective. In Hakan we first see a notable persona of a fintech founder. He has considerable background and his professional career makes him exact fit for for the fintech startup founder. Besides, Norma addresses a serious gap in the banking sector. There are more than 40M freelancers and SMEs in Turkey, but already-existing corporate banking services target large companies, so there is an obvious need of banking solutions for freelancers and SMEs ” Onur Erbay highlighted.
“Via Visa and Hackquarters networks, we could easily access a large network of investors. When it comes to Global Founders Capital, they have an operational aspect rather than executive” Hakan Gonca added.
While mentioning the difficulties and challenges of running a fintech startup, Hakan emphasized that they are trying to survive in a highly competitive and large market. “We are not only providing banking services, but also trying to include accounting services and other financial services. Integrating these services into a product and coordinating the features can be sometimes challenging. Fundraising is another challenge in founders’ lives. It takes an effort and drains energy. It might estrange you from your core business. You should be careful about the balance between the effort you spend on fundraising and your core business.”
The next session was the journey of “No Code Platform Cameralyze”. Cameralyze
Co-Founder Ufuk Dağ and Cameralyze’s investor Heaventures Managing Partner Nurettin Şendoğan shared their insights on running a startup and raising money.
“We are ex-founders and we know how to run a startup. Last year, we started a VC but we are not operating like classical VCs. We are also trying to act like a startup; we are providing in-kind contributions, as well. When we approach a startup, we first look at how we can contribute to the startup besides the capital.” Nurettin said.
“So far, we’ve been into number of PoCs and pivots. Now we are expanding Cameralyze to the US market. Accessisng to technology solutions for SMEs is difficult and expensive. We are enabling SMEs to find solutions to their business challenges with our no-code platform. You need to reach out to the right people while you are growing your company. You must take action fast so that you can see whether your solution is valid or not. This is where programs like Visa Innovation Program create value; you can be easily matched with the veterans and take action fast ” Ufuk told us.
“Cameralyze finalized its problem-solution fit and can be applicable in all sectors. New normal changed our lives radically; and opened a door for new disruptive technologies. If you want to succeed you need to differentiate yourself from others. Differentiatin iis really hard for the companies existing for the last 20-30 years, but the new normal showed the new ways for differentiation.” Nurettin added.
The last session called “Borderless Glocalzone” introduced Glocalzone CEO Doğan Turan and angel investors Koray Bahar talking about Glocalzone from both founder and investor perspectives. The session was moderated by Business Development Visa, Senior Manager Melihcan Yücel.
“My first meeting with Doğan was a total coincidence, when he reached me on Linkedin for advice. Though that was realyl busy period for me as my company was in the exit phase, still had 20 minutes call with Doğan. After the meeting, I’ve tested the platform and my experience was amazing. Then, I called Doğan to ask whether they are looking for investment. My first investment in Glocalzone was actually in Doğan himself.” Koray shared his feelings about Glocalzone.
“Glocalzone benefited from Visa Innovation Program in several ways. We were trying to expand our business but pandemics hit the travel sector. Our company was about to close. With my co-founder, we had a serious brainstorming session. We considered all the possibilities; and were sure that someone would make it on large scale one day. Afterwards wefocused on our on improving our product considerably and made our metrics x 3-4. We are now doing good in Turkey and with the last investment, now, we are focusing on the expansion to the other countries.” Doğan mentioned.
Lastly, Koray shared his insights on the future of the fintech ecosystem. “All around the world, SME’s access to digital solutions is a big problem. There are numerous opportunities in the field of finetech and SMEs. Startups seek opportunities of scaling fast where the market is considerably large, but not crowded. Innovative solutions have great potentials to grow in these emerging geographies.”
If you are a fintech startup ready to scale and grow your business in Turkey and the region, visit Visa Innovation Program Turkey website and apply until March 20.
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