High-Impact Entrepreneurship

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Success stands still for no one

Reprinted from GrowVC. Original article here.

By Markus Lampinen

Success is not a given for any type of company, yet when one reaches success in a larger extent, it may be hard to remember to strive for greatness and not accept success as a right that’s earned. Accept success as your norm, and you’ll definitely wake up one morning far behind your competition.

Entrepreneurs and people building businesses (or any business division or unit for that matter), face an endless and hurdle-filled struggle to get up on top of challenges and conquer their part of the market. It’s this concept of a constant beta, that makes the environment uncertain and dynamic, to say the least. Looking for the light at the end of the tunnel may be a natural reaction and survival instinct, but for entrepreneurs, it’s really all about learning to see in the dark and enjoy the calamity that is being an entrepreneur.

After trudging through this dark tunnel looking at all glimpses of hope, it’s only natural to bathe in the light once you reach it. No sane person would look for the next cumbersome, near-death experience, right? Well, that’s exactly what the entrepreneur should be after. Like being allergic to the sun, the entrepreneur should be running for the next big thing, whether its an improved addition to the past success or diversification of assets to make sure success is continued. There is no stop.

You see accepting success as a given in so many companies that are fledgling after years of basking in the glory. For an entrepreneur, taking anything for granted should be an oxymoron that just doesn’t make sense. Blinking for even a second to enjoy the earned success, may indeed cause the collapse of an empire. Sure, that’s a bit dramatic, but so are the consequences of thinking ‘you’ve made it’. The truth is, that in any competitive industry (read, industry worth being in), you’re never finished. And it means, you are really never finished.

Several entrepreneurs that do make it to large scale success, then jump ship when the company reaches a certain level of establishment. This is also a natural instinct for those that learn to thrive in constant beta, which makes the established environment unbearable to them. It’s not to say that it’s not a natural progression in the life of the company, but it doesn’t need to be a progression that the initial founder or entrepreneur needs to take part in. It’s part of knowing ones strengths, which may not include running an already successful company or division, but rather building one from scratch or re-building one in distress.

Success is part of any entrepreneurs sought after path, yet success may not be attainable as a static, given right. Success may be part of the process itself, of finding and creating value through uncertainty and hurdles. In fact it’s really not about getting to the end of the tunnel, but rather the process itself of creating value, that defines entrepreneurship in it’s fundamental form.

eMBA field report: in Egypt, change is in the air

Nate Wong is an MBA student at Yale University’s School of Management. He is interning with Hindawi in Egypt through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

As I disembarked the aircraft in Cairo, I was not fully prepared for the mix of excitement and frenzy that would take place over the next few weeks. I arrived at the peak of Egypt’s runoff elections – an historic time for Egyptians and a culmination of the infamous 18-day revolution that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak last February. For the first time in history, Egyptians would usher in a democratically-elected president. For much of the younger generation, it would be the second president they had ever witnessed. The next couple weeks were an emotional roller coaster. Tensions rose over the election results and rumors sparked of Mubarak’s impending death. They proved to be false. “Shafik or Morsi?” seemed to be the dominant question in the streets as everyone eagerly tried to learn which candidate others had voted for.

Tahrir Square, the famous location of Egypt’s historic revolution, was again full of protests, which I was able to experience firsthand. Tahrir is separated into two or three “stages” where different protesters state their claims and rally the crowd. One night, there was a large demonstration of Morsi supporters. The massive crowd became denser as I walked toward it. It was still relatively small in comparison to the revolution crowds last January and February. Vendors were interspersed among the protesters. The smell of freshly grilled corn wafted through the air. Supplying a host of items from flags and lights to corn, candy, and even clubs, these vendors were very entrepreneurial in their business endeavors: they had mobilized quickly to accommodate the swarms of assembled people.

This entrepreneurial attitude pervades Egypt as a whole, perhaps as a result of its changing political landscape. The Arab Spring has brought with it numerous challenges both political and financial. For examples, the revolution created a sharp decline in tourism, which was a major source of revenue for the country. These challenges have pushed Egyptian companies to innovate and think beyond country borders to capitalize on opportunities.

This summer, I have been given the opportunity to work for Hindawi Publishing Company, a company which has taken the entrepreneurial mantra to heart and created a new model for “open access” in the publishing world. The company has grown exponentially over the past few years, tripling its revenues and expanding its operations to over 500 employees, with further plans for expansion underway. Largely based on lessons learned from the publishing world, in 2008, Hindawi created a new division called uFollow, a website that allows users to follow their favorite bloggers and columnists, no matter where they publish, all in one place. uFollow’s author-centric model flips the conventional blog search on its head by expanding search criteria from content and sources to authors and citations. uFollow currently tracks more than 150,000 bloggers and columnists from over 4,800 leading blogs, magazines, and newspapers. It is the brainchild of Endeavor Entrepreneur Ahmed Hindawi, along with Paul Peters. They anticipated the increasing trend towards electronic publications and blogs and the need to develop a highly-parsed and clean database for the blogosphere. After four years, uFollow has developed into a robust blog search engine and a resource for users to follow their favorite topics, authors, and sources.

In my role this summer, I am helping Ahmed and Paul to launch uFollow’s Top 100 Author and Sources site, which is one of the first sites to calculate top authors. Its algorithm is based on the number of citations that a given author receives from other articles in the uFollow system, excluding any internal references from the same source or self-citations.

Aside from my time in the office, I have taken full advantage of being in Cairo during this monumental time. Nestled on a small island in Cairo, I am staying in Zamalek, which is about a 10-minute drive to Tahrir Square, with great views of the Nile. Despite the traffic, I have been able to explore Cairo and other sites in Egypt, including the famous Giza pyramids; Khan el-Khalili, one of the oldest markets or souks in Egypt; the Egyptian Museum, which houses King Tut’s mummy and a myriad of other artifacts from Egypt’s great past; and even experienced Faluka sailboat ride on the Nile. The food in Egypt, despite the high prices of wine – only found in certain restaurants and expatriate communities – has been another highlight. From traditional Egyptian dishes such as Molokheyya, Koshari, Taameya (falafel), and Foul, to the fresh guava, peach, mango, and watermelon juices, my foodie palette has been very well rewarded. But one of the most unique experiences within Cairo by far is the ability to order just about anything from food to medicine – it’s just a quick phone call or, in many cases, click away! I am looking forward to my remaining weeks here in Egypt, especially with Ramadan quickly approaching. I am excited to continue to work with the team at Hindawi and uFollow and am hoping to explore sites beyond Cairo, including Alexandria, Luxor, Sharm!

After selling his company for $220M, Wilson Poit reflects on the power of Endeavor (with video)

Recently, Endeavor Entrepreneur Wilson Poit visited Endeavor Global’s New York headquarters to speak about the impact of Endeavor on his Brazilian energy company, Poit Energia. Recently, Poit sold the company to the Scottish temporary power group Aggreko for US$220 million.

The following is a video interview with him about the evolution of his company, followed by a transcript of his separate presentation to Endeavor staff.

I wanted to come here today to personally thank all of you at Endeavor. Endeavor truly helped to transform my life and my business these last 10 years.

Poit Energia was my fifth company. Previously, I started four small companies that were good but didn’t scale. When I was 40 years old, I had the idea to rent silent energy generators to events in Brazil. I sold everything I had at the moment in order to buy generators to rent. Soon, I expanded my customer base beyond events, renting to markets like oil, gas, and mining companies. I also introduced add-on services.

In my fifth year, in 2002, I met Marília Rocca and Linda Rottenberg. Endeavor arrived in my life in that moment. From the first moment I was selected as an Endeavor Entrepreneur, I felt like all the doors were open. Endeavor mentors helped me to scale, and soon I traveled to Atlanta to sign an agreement with GE to sell the company for US$8 million. However, due to some internal changes at GE, the deal never officially closed.

The next year, another company, Aggreko, offered to buy the company. But at that point I realized I was sitting on a gold mine. With the help of Endeavor, I started a board in 2005 and received ongoing support, mentorship, advice, and introductions. I also learned how to build a team and delegate, putting people smarter than me in each area of the business. In fact, one of my Endeavor Brazil’s first employees is now the CEO of my company.

In 2002, as I mentioned, GE offered me $8 million for the business. In 2012, I sold the company to Aggreko for $220 million. Over nine years, Aggreko had offered to buy the business four times; the fifth time was the charm.

I really believe in the power of your services at Endeavor. I believe a lot that Endeavor can transform, can change entrepreneurs, and help people think big. These days, many entrepreneurs and investors are arriving in Brazil, and I think Endeavor had something to do with that.

I’m planning to start another business next year, but in a way, Endeavor is now my life cause and I want to help other people believe in it like I do. My give back to Endeavor will be not only money but also my time and my story. Thank you, Linda Rottenberg, and thank you to everyone at Endeavor.

eMBA field report: rainy weather and fiery ambition near the southernmost point in the world

Puerto Montt, Chile

Vijay Sarma Vedula is an MBA student at Babson’s F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business. He is interning with Endeavor Entrepreneur company Innovex in Chile through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

While it’s cold and rainy outside here in Puerto Montt, the Salmon capital of Chile, near the southernmost point in the world, there is warmth inside the people who live here. It has helped me to settle into this new place quickly.

My first few weeks working with Innovex, a Chilean firm that offers proprietary technological solutions for the aquaculture industry, have been extremely rewarding. I have had to jump in with both feet and work on many different fronts simultaneously from day one. My work has changed a little from the original project scope, but I am happy to have the opportunity to help Innovex in every way possible during my brief time here. It is an exciting time to be at the company.

The fantastic local Endeavor team is very friendly and extremely supportive. They make my job easier by providing me with every resource I need to reach my end goal successfully.

Patricio & Gonzalo (the Endeavor Entrepreneurs) have shared every aspect of the business with me and included me in all the important meetings. For example, I was part of an Endeavor-organized advisory board meeting with leaders from successful companies from the region, focused on helping Innovex chart its future path. The discussion provided me with great insight into the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. It was also a great experience to see these successful business leaders volunteering their expertise and to understand how valuable it was a small company. It is fascinating to see the challenges a small company faces and the strategies it uses to compete in a playground of giants.

I feel that in three weeks I have become an integrated member of this organization. As I get ready to face the next week and the new set of challenges it brings, I am already thinking about how I will miss this place when it is time to leave.

eMBA field report: saving the world one industrial city at a time

Fabian Gonzalez at Imagen Dental in Monterrey, Mexico

Fabian Gonzalez is an MBA student at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He is interning at Endeavor Entrepreneur company Imagen Dental in Monterrey, Mexico through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

I arrived in Monterrey three weeks ago, early on a Saturday morning. The first thing I noticed was that the city is surrounded by four beautiful, scenic mountains. Once you spend a few days here, you realize that this industrial city with 4 million inhabitants is actually terrific.

Unlike most of the industrial cities in the world, Monterrey has a wide range of activities and ecosystems. Here, you are in a big city, but, at the same time, you are just 20 minutes away from a picnic near a peaceful cabin in the mountains. If you like outdoor activities, like mountain biking and hiking, Monterrey is the place to be.

This summer, I am working at Imagen Dental as an eMBA intern. Imagen Dental is a one-stop health clinic that provides world-class dental, vision and hearing care to middle-class Mexicans. At the moment, it has more than 25 branch offices in Monterrey and employs more than 250 doctors. My job is to help the company to build a business plan for national expansion.

My experience with Imagen Dental has been amazing so far. I not only found people – at all levels – who are really working hard to improve Mexicans’ quality of life, but also have experienced the entrepreneurial environment that inspires them to change the world first-hand.

During my time at Imagen Dental, I have discovered that an eMBA internship is not only a summer business project, but also an opportunity to explore Endeavor’s network. Endeavor Entrepreneur Patricio Villarreal, one of Imagen Dental’s co-founders, has included me in all of Endeavor’s local activities. In addition to my experience with Imagen Dental, I met another Endeavor Entrepreneur a start-up social event. I also attended Endeavor’s National Selection Panel last weekend as an observer, where I heard three different pitches from entrepreneurs who want to become part of the Endeavor network.

My eMBA experience has already exceeded my expectations and it’s just getting started…

eMBA field report: taking an entrepreneurial risk to keep Mexican companies safe

Paul Marquard is an MBA student at Babson’s F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business. He is interning with ALTO with Endeavor Entrepreneur Jorge Nazer through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

Working in a company where the entrepreneurial mindset ubiquitous and new ideas are welcomed provides a ripe opportunity for an MBA like myself to test his entrepreneurial skills. This is exactly what I’ve found as an eMBA intern at ALTO. When I started working with the ALTO team, I was received with a warm welcome and I immediately felt that I was a part of the company.

ALTO provides strategic solutions to prevent or mitigate the theft of companies’ assets. In addition to generating revenue, ALTO also has a positive impact on crime reduction is Mexico. As I result, I feel that by helping ALTO I am also helping my country. It’s a great feeling.

The company is growing at a rapid pace and, as a result, the management team has decided to expand their operations in Mexico. This is where I come in: because of my MBA experience and knowledge of Mexico, I have been entrusted with a mission-critical project. I will help the company to create a strategic plan to expand to the whole of Mexico. It is an honor to work on a project that I know will have a direct impact at all levels of the company. I am inspired to work even harder to make this project a success because the entrepreneurs are so open and attentive to my ideas.

These first few weeks, I have worked directly with the CEO of the company, who has great experience and ideas, and I have learned about the company’s business model and operations. I am finishing the research stage of my project, during which I gathered valuable data that will help me do a thorough analysis. The project is full of variables and there are a variety of possible methods to achieve the final goal. This is what makes this project challenging and exiting.

I have found the project to be a great learning experience because although I have been guided, I am not told what to do. This allows me to use my own entrepreneurial mindset to figure out the best methods to develop ALTO’s expansion strategy through research and analysis.

eMBA field report: tea and vision technology in enchanting Istanbul

Felwa AlBazie is an MBA student at Babson’s F.W. Olin Graduate School ofBusiness. She is interning at Vistek with Endeavor Entrepreneur Dr. Aytül Erçil through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

The fifth week of my internship with Vistek-ISRA Vision is approaching, and everyday matches the first’s excitement! I’m overwhelmed by what this internship has to offer, and I’m undeniably worried that time will pass me by before I absorb all I can from this rewarding experience.

A search for new markets

My task at Vistek has been well defined from the first day. In fact, it is pretty much what I discussed in the initial interview with Dr. Aytül Erçil, the entrepreneur who founded the company. I’m focusing on analyzing different markets and determining the potential for Vistek’s products within them. Every day at Vistek carries new challenges to be solved, and it’s hard to discipline myself to work on a single, isolated topic. As I learn more about Vistek and the potential of the products, my curiosity kicks in and I want to fly through this task and jump on to another and then maybe complete that next task and have a chance to tackle a third! The entrepreneurial spirit is captivating.

A team worth knowing

Dr. Erçil and every one of the 23 company employees has generously offered their time and support when requested to ensure that my project goes smoothly and is successful. They’ve been very tolerant of my lack of technical knowledge and managed to explain the products in terms that even I can understand! They also offered magnificent tourism tips for Istanbul and Turkey! I’m overwhelmed by the team’s generosity and kindness and I’m confident that the next six weeks at Vistek will bring more enjoyable times and even stronger friendships.

Istanbul and the çay

Living in Istanbul for 10 weeks is another magnificent opportunity this internship offers. This fascinating city keeps offering more to explore every day: a very rich culture to discover, amazing scenery alongside the Bosporus, delicious food, and tea on every corner. I used to think I was a tea addict until I came to Istanbul and saw how many cups of tea people drink around here! I believe in the four weeks I’ve been here, I’ve fallen in love with the city. I can’t wait to see what the next six have in store!

eMBA field report: endorsing public transportation at Chile’s fourth “great place to work”

Santiago Cordillera

Mariana Torres-Montoya is pursuing a Masters in City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley.   She is interning with Grupo Alto through Endeavor’s eMBA Program.

“I created, in collaboration with other entrepreneurs, the Association of Chilean Entrepreneurs (ASECH). Today we are 1,000 entrepreneurs. I am sure we can reach 100,000 by 2014.” These were the words of Endeavor Entrepreneur Jorge Nazer, the brain behind Grupo Alto and one of the leading entrepreneurs in Chile, as we walked toward the first annual meeting of ASECH. The drive and ambition reflected in his comment is the same one that envelops Grupo Alto, a company dedicated to the protection of organizations’ assets from fraud and robbery through an integrated model focused on education, dissuasion, and legal action. Jorge and his team have taken Alto from a small, provincial business to a holding of five companies that, combined, make the Alto model robust and replicable abroad. The company now has a presence in Colombia and Mexico in addition to its Chilean headquarters. As the company evolves and shapes its identity, it continues to innovate by creating new products and entering to new markets in order to stay relevant. The Santiago office is a young crowd, all entrepreneurs in their own way, and the sense of contentment and camaraderie amongst them is truly unique. It’s no surprise that Grupo Alto was voted one of the best places to work in Chile last year.

As an eMBA intern, I came to Alto to help Jorge realize his next ambitious goal: breaking into the public transport market as the leading company to help bus operators reduce Transantiago’s high level of fare evasion. During my time at Alto I have been absorbing as much as possible of the enthusiasm and entrepreneurial skills that Jorge and his team display while informing the project with my knowledge of the transportation sector. The project is not short on challenges. On one hand, there is the complex nature of a highly regulated business whose success hinges on the government and a series of other actors doing their part. On the other hand, the project involves changing the mindset of a population deeply scarred by an inefficient, expensive, and slow-to-improve public transportation service. This past week, we made our pitch to a couple potential clients as we continue to strengthen our value proposition.

Chile has far exceeded my expectations, offering the best of the developed world and the warmth and joy of the Latin American character. I am constantly amazed by Santiago’s high-frequency metro system, its automated urban highway tolls, and its sophisticated retail sector. The city enjoys a level of safety unknown to its Latin American peers and provides great pockets of culture and open space. In a very interesting way, Santiago feels like a small town despite its respectable size. My new set of Chilean friends inside and outside Alto are proof of Chileans´ friendliness and their interest in showing foreigners a good time in their country. The nonstop nightlife entertainment in Santiago, be it after-office parties in hidden parking lots or the famous “asados” at friends’ places, demonstrates just how much Chileans like to enjoy themselves. Of course, I am constantly aware that I am seeing just one side of the city. There is much work to be done to lessen the city’s income disparities, a problem which plagues all Latin American metropolises, and improve the quality of life of the majority of its residents.  Through their commitment to innovation, progress and social responsibility, I am confident that Grupo Alto and the rest of Chile’s entrepreneurial community will be invaluable contributors to the sustained development of this beautiful country.

U.S. venture capitalists, CEOs and techies taking recent interest in Mexico

By Sam Weyrauch, Endeavor summer intern

In the ever-continuing search to find the newest markets and unrealized investment opportunities around the world, U.S. venture capitalists have recently intensified their interest in Mexico. With a newfound attention brought upon by three events–Geeks on a Plane, an Endeavor Mexico CEO Summit, and Startup Weekend — the country is looking more and more like the latest hotbed of entrepreneurial talent.

Geeks on a Plane (#GOAP) is a collection of 50 executives, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs who travel across the world to the biggest tech startup cities “with the sole mission of uniting geeks and exploring cross-border tech opportunities,” according to its website. Founded by Dave McClure, the self-proclaimed “Sith Lord” for business-accelerating investment fund 500 Startups, with help from Endeavor Entrepreneur and Global Board member Wences Casares, GOAP leads discussions about tech innovation. A subset of 500 Startups, GOAP has already completed nine trips in three years and is touring Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East in 2012. This is the third stop in Mexico City for GOAP, but this year other Mexican localities also organized smaller events, along with tours of local cities headed by local tech startups.

“Our fundamental mission, besides having fun, is getting to know all the human potential, evaluate the business environment and explore the possibility to start investing in a good pace in their start-ups,” said McClure. “To establish cultural comparisons that help us understand the differences between markets, their priorities and needs, and of course, to get in touch with all the human potential from the cities we’ll visit, beyond the figures, that in any case look very promising.”

The Geeks on a Plane participated in Startup Weekend while in Mexico City, where they networked with and advised entrepreneurs to learn more about the local entrepreneurial ecosystem and how they can help it expand moving forward. At Startup Weekend, participants worked to build entire businesses in just 54 hours. They brought ideas to the table about new business plans, teamed up to collaborate on the most viable projects, develop the ideas, and were judged on the products of their labor. Endeavor’s own Allen Taylor was joined by McClure and Bedy Yang from 500 Startups, Hernán Fernández from Angel Ventures Mexico, David Weekly from MexicanVC, and Adriana Tortajada from NAFIN as investor judges.

The final event was the CEO Summit, entitled “Speed of Light Growth,” a stepping stone for entrepreneurs to catapult their companies to the next level. Over 180 entrepreneurs met with investors and business leaders to network and discuss business strategies over breakfast before attending a series of success story presentations and keynote speakers. Four representatives from the Endeavor Investor Network took part in the event—Eliza Erikson (Omidyar Network), Luis Trevino (Beamonte Investments), Jaime Sanchez Cortina (Sun Mountain Capital), and Felipe Ortiz (Aureos)—as well as business coach and author John Hamm, venture capitalist Joanna Rees, and veteran entrepreneur Juan Pablo Cappello, all Endeavor Global affiliates.

According to Pilar Aguilar, CEO of Endeavor Mexico, “The CEO Summit is Endeavor Mexico’s most important event, in terms of content, for entrepreneurs. We believe that entrepreneurs are the country’s engine of economic development, so this effort to bring together such important businesses and organizations benefits Mexico.”

Having the country experience these three events within just one week is a great step in the right direction for the Mexican and overall Latin American markets, and there is sure to be more attention paid by venture capitalists, business leaders, and techie geeks in the near future.

Related links:
Bloomberg Businessweek article on McClure and the events
Interview with McClure

eMBA field report: inventive flowers and food in fast-growing Istanbul

Elizabeth Gulliver is an MBA student at Columbia Business School. She is interning with Ciceksepeti.com and Endeavor Entrepreneur Emre Aydin in Istanbul through the Endeavor eMBA Program.

I was breathless and sweaty, dragging three months of luggage up a narrow staircase, but I stopped dreading living so many floors up when I opened the door to my new apartment. The late afternoon sun on the Bosphorus is undeniably magical and I was somehow lucky enough to have a spectacular view of it all. I was already enchanted with the city before I had even begun to truly explore.

Istanbul is an astonishingly large city with a diverse mixture of neighborhoods. On the European side alone, the city ranges from the historic Sultanahmet area to older charming neighborhoods like Cihangir and Galata, to the newer developments stretching north of the city that are constantly expanding. The rapid growth and economic potential are palpable in the intense energy felt throughout the city. As observers often write, Turkey is clearly experiencing strong economic expansion and currently benefiting from its unique position between Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Thus far, from what my co-workers and people I have met outside of the office tell me, Istanbul appears to be thriving as a result of its ambitious, young, and hard-working population.

This summer I am working at one of the many new e-commerce companies in Turkey. Among other industries, e-commerce has exploded in Turkey with the dramatic increase in the number of internet users and a growing middle class that is ready to consume more and is increasingly comfortable with online shopping. The company that I am working for, Ciceksepeti, currently has four websites and is in the process of finishing several others to launch in the next few months. Emre Aydin, the CEO and Endeavor Entrepreneur for whom I am working, had no e-commerce experience prior to launching the first website, Ciceksepeti.com (and online flower retailer). The website started when Emre’s brother, who lives in the US, called and asked him to send flowers to his mother and mother-in-law, living in two difference cities in Turkey. Finding this nearly impossible to do, Emre saw an opportunity and started building the website that night. Ciceksepeti.com is one of the fastest growing e-commerce sites in the country, and in addition to selling flowers, the company now sells gourmet gifts, jewelry, other small gifts, and experiential gifts.

In my role this summer, I am helping Emre and the staff to expand and develop their corporate structure. The company has grown so quickly that they have had little time to establish a structure that will allow them to continue to expand and launch new sites. Together, we are working to build these systems and structures. This unique position has provided me the opportunity to work closely with employees in every department of the company. The ability to learn and discuss how all the different aspects of the company, from the 24/7 call center, to the operations department, marketing teams, IT, HR and business development groups work together has been extremely interesting and valuable. I am only a few weeks into my internship, but I am eager to keep working with the team here to maximize their growth potential.

In addition to time in the office, I have been spending time exploring Istanbul and several other destinations in Turkey. Despite not speaking the language, the country has been relatively easy to travel around and people have been unfailingly helpful and patient. By far the best part of exploring so far has been the food. The food in Turkey goes well beyond the traditional mezzes that most people think of. While these are truly delicious, there are a multitude of restaurants offering newer, modern takes on traditional dishes that are simply delicious. And with the economic boom has come a broad expansion in Turkish wine production – I can safely say that this has benefited the country’s economy as I know I have already supported several vineyards myself! Looking towards the next few months, I am excited to continue exploring this vibrant country and working with the dynamic team at Ciceksepeti.

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