The most serious anti-government protests in Turkey in years haven’t stopped local and international investors taking an interest in the country’s nascent new economy.
Among the most interesting recent deals: Evim.net, Turkey’s answer to home decor flash sales site One Kings Lane, has raised a $5m Series A round from Turkish VC 212, Simile Ventures and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
Evim (“Home”), founded by brothers Ali and Sencan Ozen in 2010, offers members short-term deals on furniture, linen, lamps, art, and other home goods. According to new investor 212, the home retail market in Turkey weighed in at $48b in 2011 and is likely to grow by 10 per cent per year in the next five years – and, more importantly, Turkey is only at the start of its online commerce boom.
Evim’s numbers are “very good”, 212 vice-president Dilek Dayinlarli (right) said in an interview yesterday. “As a woman, I love home decoration. That category is the one I always look for, more than clothes… I know they are one of the biggest players.”
It’s the eighth portfolio company for Istanbul-based firm 212, which opened for business in early 2012, and follows similarly-sized Series A deals with Hemen Kiralik (“Just Rent” – similar to Airbnb) and hospitality software-as-a-service makers CloudArena.
The deal flow in Turkey has changed over the last two years, Dayinlarli said. “In 2011, the total amount of investment in Turkey was about $120m. In 2012, it was slightly decreased. This year, it’s incredible. In only the first quarter, the number of investments and amount invested is already past last year’s numbers.”
Turkey’s startups “need bigger investors”
As well as eCommerce, more companies are trying their luck with software-as-a-service, enterprise software and pure mobile. As with other countries in Europe, finding investors for large following rounds is a key challenge. “Series C is probably going to be a problem in Turkey,” Dayinlarli said. “You need bigger investors in the market.” More talent, too. “We have great engineers… The thing is, they’re not into the startup ecosystem a lot. They’re into working for large corporates, banks.”
As for protest action and police crackdowns: “We still have international people who are coming to Turkey – Japanese, Americans, to find really good deal flows. On the other side, some people interested in investing in Turkey are delaying their meetings and travels to fall. But it’s so-so… I don’t think it’s going to create a huge problem in the long run.”
Image credit: Flickr user Laszlo Ilyes