5 Things for you to know bussines in Istanbul

As a bridge between Europe and Asia, the Turkish city has more to offer globally minded entrepreneurs than breathtaking sights and a rich history.

Source: GettyImages


You might not think of Istanbul as a startup hub to rival the likes of Silicon Valley or Tel Aviv, but there’s a reason the city has been dubbed the Digital Bosphorus: Its e-commerce niche is growing rapidly, with players like Yemek Sepeti getting plenty of attention.

The online food ordering platform has raised approximately $47 million in funding, from investors like the New York City-based private equity firm General Atlantic and Endeavor Catalyst. The company now has more than 3.5 million registered users all over Turkey and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, through a second site it operates called FoodOnClick.com.

Critically located at the intersection of Europe and Asia, it’s little wonder that Istanbul made Inc.’s shortlist of the top “Global Cities of the Future.” Considering the city’s geographic advantages, among other attributes, it’s more than conceivable that you could find yourself en route to Turkey soon.

Before you make the trek, here are a handful of things to know about Istanbul’s burgeoning startup scene:
1. The cost of living is lower than you’d expect.
Unlike some of the world’s more notable e-hubs–think New York City or London–Istanbul’s cost of living and average income is relatively low. Just ask Peri Kadaster, the director of marketing and strategy at Istanbul-based mobile software company Monitise. After relocating to Istanbul from San Francisco in 2013, she calls the difference “night and day,” with Istanbul offering businesses a “huge talent [and] cost arbitrage opportunity.”

Good news for travelers on a budget: There are plenty of affordable restaurants in Istanbul that fuse the best of Eastern and Western cuisine. And if you find yourself with an afternoon to spare, you can book a seat on a Bosphorus cruise for less than $50, with views of historic sights like the Hagia Sophia or the Blue Mosque in the Old City.

2. The population is young, smart, and social media savvy.
Kadaster was shocked when her 11-year-old Turkish cousin informed her that “Facebook is for old people.” The comment, said Kadaster, points to an important trend: Half of the Turkish populace (roughly 75 million people) is under the age of 30, and individuals are well connected to the internet. Turkey is one of the most active markets for Twitter. To wit, even when the microblogging site was blocked during the country’s latest political election, people continued to tweet, according to NBC News.

3. There’s plenty of engineering talent.
There are several universities in Istanbul that are churning out technical talent for startups, including Yildiz Technical University and Istanbul Technical University, which is ranked No. 165 in the world out of 400, on the basis of excellence in teaching, research, citations, industry income, and international outlook. Other schools, like Bahcesehir University, are opening up branches in New York City and Silicon Valley, thus giving students access to potential investors and networking opportunities.

4. Turkish culture is still warming up to entrepreneurship.
Turks tend to be more risk averse than Americans, according to Kadaster. She grew up in the U.S. but would frequently visit family in Istanbul before she made the move there herself.

Still, it’s important to remember that the Turkish startup scene is young: It’s only about eight years old, with just five acquisitions of startups to date, according to the nonprofit global entrepreneurship support organization Endeavor. Endeavor’s Turkish branch has helped grow companies like Yemek Sepeti, Monitise, and Peak Games, a global mobile gaming site, into multimillion-dollar ventures since Endeavor Turkey was founded in 2006.

5. Women are making progress.
Kadaster used to live and work in the bro-centric culture of Silicon Valley. In Istanbul, by contrast, she says, “Every room I’m in, there’s basically a mix of men and women.” That may have something to do with the gender ratio at Turkish universities: 54 percent of students are women, according to Didem Altop, Endeavor Turkey’s female co-founder. “There’s a really unique role for women to play in the entrepreneurship scene,” she added, especially given that “women are looking for more mission-driven careers.”

6. Venture capital is growing.
While the venture capital scene in Turkey is relatively nascent, it’s growing fast. There are approximately 10 homegrown VC firms in Istanbul alone, which each make an average of six investments per year, Endeavor’s Altop told Inc.

Kadaster, when asked about the VC landscape in Istanbul, perhaps said it best: “No matter where you are, good ideas will always get capital.”

Source: inc.com

2014 UCLG Executive Bureau held in Liverpool, United Kingdom

The 2014 UCLG Executive Bureau has held from the 17th to 19th June, 2014 in Liverpool, United Kingdom by invitation from the Mayor of Liverpool, Mr. Joe Anderson.

The Spring Executive Bureau 2014 was held this year in conjunction with the International Festival for Business (IFB) organised by Liverpool and the City Leaders Summit aiming at providing UCLG members with new networking opportunities with different stakeholders.

Mr. Kadir Topbaş, the mayor of Istanbul and the head of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) attended the BT Global City Leaders Summit in Liverpool that brings together more than 300 city leaders and senior members of local government. Mr. Topbaş delivered a speech at a panel discussion titled “Cities For Growth and Equality”. Mayor Mr. Topbaş provided information to the participants about the investments and services made by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IMM) in last decade. Mayor Topbaş said:

“Urbanisation is underpinned by the concentration of investment and the economies of agglomeration that cities offer to many enterprises are well-known. However, what are perhaps less recognised are the many economies of agglomeration that cities provide for most forms of infrastructure and service. Sound management of these services is central to their capacity to support growth, prosperity and equality.”

Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool speaking from the event said: “Cities are engines of growth and they are critical to the global economic recovery. At this summit we will debate the powers and responsibilities our cities need to deliver the best economic future for our communities.

“Importantly leaders from major cities across the UK will join us in Liverpool, to exchange ideas with the international cities attending today that could help us all in giving our cities the freedoms they need to grow. This is very much a two way street with the Core Cities sharing ideas and concepts as well as hearing about ones that have worked overseas.”

Cities represented at the summit include Istanbul, Shanghai, Paris, Barcelona, Rabat, Berlin, Vienna, Beijing, Glasgow, Surabaya, Seoul, New Delhi, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Santiago, Montreal, Mexico City, Birmingham (Alabama) Johannesburg, Rabat and Dakar, as well as all English Core Cities.

Third Airport in Istanbul

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday laid the first stone for Istanbul’s third airport, a multi-billion-dollar project expected to create one of the world’s busiest air hubs.

“Istanbul is marking a historic day. Turkey is marking a historic day. The biggest airport of the world and six continents is going to rise here,” Erdogan told a cheering crowd at the groundbreaking ceremony for the $30 billion (22 billion euro) project.

Erdogan said the first stage of the construction is set for completion on October 29, 2017 — the 94th anniversary of the founding of modern Turkey — and the facility is projected to handle 150 million passengers a year when fully operational in 2018.

“We are building not just an airport, but actually a monument of victory today,” the premier said.

The facility will be constructed 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Istanbul on an area of 7,700 hectares (19,000 acres) and will accommodate 500 air crafts.

The third airport in Turkey’s largest city aims to rival Dubai’s Al Maktoum International airport, which opened in October last year and is expected eventually to accommodate 160 million passengers a year.

A Turkish joint venture won a tender for the project last May obtaining a 25-year lease to build and operate the planned airport.
Plans to build a third airport have raised concerns among environmentalists who say they are protesting the construction of the facility in a heavily forested area near Terkos Lake as it is one of metropolitan Istanbul’s six main drinking water reservoirs.

The project was announced in May 2013 amid mass protests that started as a local environmental campaign to save an Istanbul park from redevelopment and evolved into a nationwide anti-government movement.

Erdogan suggested that the protesters were used as “pawns” by some groups trying to hamper Turkey’s growth and the government’s efforts to build the airport.

“Unfortunately, they couldn’t put up with such an airport,” Erdogan said.

“Those who hit the streets last year were unaware that they have been used as pawns while Turkey was celebrating historical achievements.

“Just like our friends are watching us with pride, our enemies are also watching this ceremony with frustration of not being able to stop this project.”

Erdogan’s government is frequently criticized for its ambitious construction plans for the bustling city of 16 million, which also include a third bridge across the Bosporus and a canal parallel to the international waterway to ease traffic congestion.

The building industry has boomed under Erdogan but his government was hit by a now-stalled corruption probe in December investigating allegations of high-level bribery linked to some construction projects.

Despite the street protests and the corruption scandal implicating key government allies, the premier’s Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) scored a crushing victory in the local elections in March, boosting Erdogan’s ambitions to stand for president in August.

Do I need a visa for Istanbul ?

Most foreign nationals from western countries do not require a visa in advance for a visit to Turkey. Some countries do not require a visa at all while most others can purchase it at border posts and airports. Working and residency permits are more complicated. Check out our article on Visas & Permits in Turkey for more information at below.

Visas/Permits for Turkey

We have put together a basic guide for visas for travelling, working, studying and living in Turkey. Due to the changing nature of government regulations, those intending to visit Turkey should check up-to-date information at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before departing for Turkey.

Common visas and permits required for Turkey are listed below:

Tourist Visas
There are two types of tourist visas for Turkey:

Entry visa (single entry, multiple entry and entry with special annotations)
Transit visa (single and double transit)
Entry Visas

A single entry visa is valid for 1 year for stays of up to three months and allows visitors to visit Turkey once.
A multiple entry visa is valid for up to 5 years and allows the holder to visit Turkey multiple times with a stay of 1-3 months each time he/she enters Turkey.

Transit Visa
A Transit visa is valid for up to 3 months and allows the person to travel to another country while transiting through Turkey.

If the connecting flight to the third country does not require an overnight stay in Turkey, then no visa is necessary. Turkey doesn’t issue Airport Transit Visas (ATV).

Cruise ship passengers are allowed to enter Turkey and stay overnight in the port cities if permission is granted by local border police authorities. An entry visa is not required.

The following countries can enter Turkey for up to 3 months without a visa: Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand , South Korea, Sweden and Switzerland.

The following countries can enter Turkey for up to 3 months by purchasing a visa sticker: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, UK and USA.

Citizens of South Africa, Hungary, Poland and many central Asian and eastern European countries can enter for up to one month by purchasing a visa sticker.

A comprehensive and up-to-date list of countries can be found here.

Visas can be purchased at borders. At Ataturk International Airport there is a visa booth from where a visa must be purchased before going through customs. Make sure to do this, otherwise you will be sent back to the customs area.

Working Visas/Permits

Work visas are given to work permit holders and are issued for single entry.

Work visas can be applied for after an employment contract has been signed with a Turkish employer and permission for a work permit has been submitted to the Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MLSS) of Turkey.

Application for Work Permit inside Turkey
Foreigners who have already been granted a residence permit in Turkey which is valid for at least six months (for any reason except education and training) can apply for a work permit with the Ministry of Labor and Social Security.

Application for Work Permit from Abroad
Foreigners may submit their application forms for work permits through Turkish embassies or consulates. Work permits are usually valid for 1year.

Education Visas

Foreigners can apply for an education visa only after they have enrolled in a Turkish university, school or a language course certified by the Ministry of Education. Education visas are generally valid for one year for single entry. The person concerned should apply to the nearest Turkish Embassy/Consulate in person with the necessary documentation.

Residence Permits

An entry visa enables the bearer to stay in Turkey for the duration stated on the visa sticker. However, if the person intends or is obliged to stay in Turkey longer than the permitted duration, this extension is subject to the approval of the Ministry of Interior. In this case, the person has to obtain a residence permit.

Applications for residence permits should be made to the Alien’s Branch of Local Police Departments (Emniyet Mudurlugu Yabancilar Subesi) within 30 days of arriving in Turkey. Applicants are generally required to submit work permit, work visa, education visa or research visa and a letter describing his/her circumstances (i.e. employment, education, marriage to a Turkish citizen).