Note: be sure to follow the Summit on Twitter: #ESummit2. Special thanks to Ludmilla Figueiredo and Büke Çuhadar for contributing reporting.
CLICK HERE to read Endeavor’s official press release.
This week, over 120 Endeavor network members gathered in Istanbul to participate in the 2nd Global Entrepreneurship Summit (December 3-6), hosted by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Along with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Endeavor Co-founder and CEO Linda Rottenberg delivered a keynote address.
In addition to speaking on two panels, Didem Altop, Managing Director of Endeavor Turkey, participated in an exclusive meeting with the Vice President during which he complimented the work of Endeavor.
The Summit, which has brought together 2,000 top entrepreneurs from Turkey and around the world, is a follow up to the U.S. President Barack Obama’s Summit on Entrepreneurship held in Washington in April 2010.
In his opening speech, Joe Biden emphasized the importance of fostering global entrepreneurship, moving beyond policies to create ecosystems for entrepreneurs to succeed. Describing the new class of visionaries leading the entrepreneurial revolution, he shared the stories of two Endeavor Entrepreneurs in Turkey–Alemşah Öztürk (41?29!) and Bedriye Hülya (b-fit).
Linda Rottenberg’s keynote
Following an introduction by Lorraine Hariton (Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs, U.S. Department of State), Linda Rottenberg delivered a 30-minute address in which she highlighted the rise of global high-impact entrepreneurship. “Innovators from around the world can imitate, emulate, or leapfrog their Silicon Valley counterparts,” she said. She proceeded to break down 10 common myths about entrepreneurship, including the belief that all entrepreneurs are equally effective drivers of economic growth and that the same companies that create lots of wealth also create lots of jobs.
Linda ended by relating a recent conversation she heard in the Middle East when Steve Jobs died, in which young people said: “Who knew that he was just like us? His father was Syrian! But good thing he didn’t live in the Middle East or Apple wouldn’t exist.” “That’s when I knew that our work is not done,” Linda continued. “Let’s ease the heavy lifting. Together, we can make the Middle East, the cradle of civilization, the new cradle of entrepreneurship.”
Endeavor network members attending and speaking at the Summit
Numerous Endeavor board members around the world are attending the Summit, including Arif Naqvi (Abraaj Capital), Fadi Ghandour (Aramex), Vuslat Doğan Sabancı (Hürriyet), Ferit Şahenk (Doğuş Grubu), Işık Keçeci Aşur (Aragon Capital), Murat Özyeğin (FINA Holding), and Fawaz Zu’bi (Accelerator Technology Holdings).
In addition to Linda Rottenberg, Arif Naqvi, and Didem Altop, network members with prominent speaking roles include Erhan Erkut (Endeavor Advisory Board member / Ozyegin University), Ferit Sahenk (Endeavor Turkey Board member / Dogus Holding), Christopher Schroeder (Endeavor global network member / HealthCentral), and Ken Morse (Endeavor global network member / Entrepreneurship Ventures).
Numerous network members also had speaking roles in parallel events organized by Endeavor Turkey, including Endeavor Entrepreneurs Ahmet Ozgun (Speedcity), Alemsah Ozturk (41?29!), Ali Ozgun (Speedcity), Basar Akpinar (PIWorks), Bedriye Hulya (bFit), Bulent Celebi (AirTies), Emre Mermer (Dukkan), Firat Isbecer (Pozitron), Fatih Isbecer (Pozitron), and Nevzat Aydin (yemeksepeti.com). Other speakers included Buke Cuhadar (Staff member, Endeavor Turkey), Isik Kececi Asur (Board member, Endeavor Turkey), Kaan Gur (Akbank), and Jonathan Ortmans (Kauffman Foundation – Global Entrepreneurship Week).
Special session on entrepreneurship
The close of the first day featured a session with Arif Naqvi (Board member, Endeavor Global), Ferit Sahenk (Board member, Endeavor Turkey), and Leonard Schlesinger (President, Babson College), moderated by Guven Sak (Director, TEPAV). Calling Endeavor a “very smart NGO,” Arif discussed Endeavor’s model of searching for an supporting high-impact entrepreneurs.
Arif went on to identify entrepreneurs as tenacious, passionate risk-takers who were at the same time risk-minimizers with obsessive attention to detail, irrational optimism and the ability to improvise. He entreated the MENA region to: 1) better protect intellectual property and thus encourage innovation, 2) create more institutions of higher education (fewer universities in MENA than in Japan!); and 3) minimize the stigma of failure (e.g., create bankruptcy law, as Turkey has).
Ferit, meanwhile, discussed his experience attending Endeavor’s recent International Selection Panel in Jordan (Oct 2011). He told the story of a Turkish Endeavor Entrepreneur who traveled to Silicon Valley and stalked investors in a coffee shop until he convinced them to invest, using the anecdote to illustrate that the best entrepreneurs will always raise money–i.e., a lack of capital is not the biggest barrier to entrepreneurship in emerging markets.
After further group discussion about Endeavor, Arif emphasized the importance of mentorship, and of creating a culture where success is celebrated but so is learning from failure.
The event venue featured an “Endeavor Lounge,” an area that showcases Endeavor Entrepreneurs (some of whom are delivering presentations) and recognizes Endeavor country offices and board members.
Investor Network Trek
In addition to attending the Summit, Endeavor Entrepreneurs, board members, and mentors participated in seven related events organized by Endeavor Turkey–including an Investor Trek, Gala, two panels, two roundtables, and one “speed networking” session.
Endeavor’s two-day “Investor Network Trek” (December 1-2) assembled many top international and local investors, culminating in a massive “speed networking” session with over 200 investor-entrepreneur introductions in one two-hour window.
During special pitch sessions, Endeavor Entrepreneurs from Arvento, Digitouch, Jeeran, Pozitron, Tiaxa, and Yemeksepeti had the opportunity to pitch their businesses to local, regional, and international investors.
A panel, “Why Turkey? Why Now?” featured some of Turkey’s top web gurus (Ali Karabey, Managing Partner – 212 Venture Capital; Alp Saul, CEO – Pronet Security Systems; Emre Kurttepeli, Founder – Mynet Group; Melih Ödemiş, CIO & Co-founder – Yemeksepeti), many of whom left the country to study but returned to build high-impact enterprises. The consensus was that Turkey is experiencing an entrepreneurial boom, with significantly opportunity especially in the tech space.
A discussion, “Beyond Turkey: Investors’ Perspectives on MENA and other Emerging Markets,” spotlighted the current investment climate.
Endeavor Turkey Gala
Endeavor Turkey celebrated its 5th anniversary with a Grand Gala on December 2nd at Four Seasons the Bosphorus Hotel. More than 300 people, including many top Turkish business leaders and investors that are part of Endeavor’s network, attended the annual event. This year’s Gala honored Ferit Sahenk, Doğus Group Chairman and Endeavor Turkey’s newest Board member, who was introduced by last year’s honoree, Hüsnü Özyeğin (Chairman, Fiba Holding), who was a close friend of Ferit’s late father.
During his speech, Ferit threw aside his cue cards and with a quivering voice, shared that he had often wished to hear more words of praise or encouragement from his late father–making the evening’s recognition by his peers more meaningful than expected. He admitted that he had avoided Endeavor for several years due to a challenging period restructuring the organization, and said that following an epiphany at the recent Jordan selection panel in October, he recognizes the inspirational power of the organization–not only for entrepreneurs but for mentors.
Acknowledging the progress of Endeavor Turkey, the board’s Chairman, Özcan Tahincioğlu, mentioned that Endeavor Turkey now supports 37 Entrepreneurs representing 28 companies, who together have created 1,550 high-value jobs and grew by 51% in 2011, generating US$183 million.
Abraaj Capital was one of the main sponsors of the Gala and many of its top managers and partners including the Founder and Group CEO Arif Naqvi were present.
Note: scroll to the bottom to check out Gala photos.
Linda Rottenberg featured in Summit newsletter
Rottenberg was featured on the cover of the official Summit newspaper, in which she is quoted as follows:
I am extremely honored to participate in this landmark Entrepreneurship Summit, generously hosted by Prime Minister Erdoğan. As I look forward to discussing in my keynote address, Turkey has become an extraordinary hub of innovation and a catalyst for entrepreneurship in growth markets around the globe. Increasingly, the world is looking to Turkey as an example of a successful ecosystem of entrepreneurship—with a growing network of mentors, investors, and role models.
The timing is right for this Summit. From the debt crisis in Europe to the wave of revolutions in the Middle East, the world is clamoring for new solutions. What we at Endeavor call “high-impact” entrepreneurs remain an important driver of growth: they generate wealth and opportunity, create high-value jobs, and serve as inspirational role models for the next generation. Together, they foster a culture of “thinking big,” where young people grow up learning to take risks and innovate.
At the Summit, I’m especially proud to be joined by the Endeavor Turkey network and board members, as well as by many other outstanding support organizations and entrepreneurs from around the world. Supporting and spotlighting High-Impact Entrepreneurs is crucial, and major events like this are important for promoting collaboration among key stakeholders—from CEOs and investors to entrepreneur support organizations, universities, media organizations, and the government. Together, let’s make it happen.
The next Summit
It was announced that in 2012, the Global Entrepreneurship Summit will be hosted in the 2012 during the annual Global Entrepreneurship Week, with the partnership of the Kauffman Foundation.
2010 Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship
The Entrepreneurship Summit was a follow-up to U.S. President Obama’s Summit on Entrepreneurship in Washington, D.C. in April 2010, aimed at “deepen[ing] ties between business leaders, foundations, and entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world.” Endeavor played a prominent role in this inaugural summit; Linda Rottenberg and Endeavor Jordan founding board member Fadi Ghandour spoke on a panel about fostering an entrepreneurial culture (watch the YouTube recording), and four Endeavor Entrepreneurs were selected to attend as delegates. Endeavor also released a survey of 66 Middle East entrepreneurs which underscored the relevance of the Summit for highlighting the promise of entrepreneurial solutions to addressing common challenges.
Congratulations to the entire staff of Endeavor Turkey for playing a major role in this landmark Summit.