Discover a few of the city’s best spots to mingle and innovate
As Istanbul’s burgeoning startup scene continues to develop, the members of the community are constantly on the lookout for the best locations to work and interact with like-minded entrepreneurs.
A mix of incubators and coworking spots have sprung up throughout the city, offering startups a great set of options for where to meet and collaborate. Spread out across town, each of these locations offers different advantages to their regular residents and others who are just passing through.
The first place to check out is the the Koç University Incubation Center, located in Şişli a few minutes walk from the Trump Towers and easily accessible by the metro. Backed by Koç University, this incubator was launched in October 2014 and works with young companies to give them many of the tools that they will need for success.
In meeting with Oguzhan Mete Ozturk, the Operations Executive at the center, he says that they are working with 18 different startups at any one time. According to Mete, the vast majority of the companies there are focused around apps, including the wildly popular Scorp video casting social network.
Companies who are lucky enough to be accepted into the incubator have a big open space, with six (soon to be eight) smaller closed off sections for working as teams. There are also two conference rooms and two meeting rooms, one of which is nicknamed the Oval Office as it is the nicest room in the office and is used mostly for making pitches to potential investors. Residents can also play around with a 3D printer that was brought in for them to test out new ideas on.
One of the most valuable resources available to these young startups is the team of around 50 mentors that come in to help the entrepreneurs develop their strategies.
In speaking with the denizens of the Koç center, some of them hoped that it would eventually grow into a larger hub with a resident VC.
Located a bit further out of town but still in Şişli is the coworking space called Kolektif House.
Sandwiched on a narrow street filled with mechanics, this hidden gem is a beacon of innovation in the sea of industry.
Walking into the space on the ground floor, there is a feeling of having reached a modern day oasis. The design is very modern yet comfortable with earthy colors, wood, stone, and metal. Off on the sides are comfy sitting areas where visitors can come and sit free of charge, ordering coffee or tea from the cafe. The first floor offers itself to larger audiences, with seating rising up against the back wall for sitting during presentations.
Moving upstairs, visitors can see the small common working area and the divided office spaces where a number of companies have set up shop. One of the more interesting tenants at Kolektif is Ayse Inal from Galata Business Angels. As one of the most prominent investor networks in the city, they have chosen to situate themselves at Kolektif where they can keep their fingers to the pulse of innovation.
With connections to successful investors who have brought their products to market not only in Turkey but also in Europe and the U.S., Galata is able to serve as a resource for many of the other companies at the space who are seeking advice on how to break out beyond their borders. As a non-profit working group, their focus is first and foremost to develop the local ecosystem with hopes for greater viability for scaling up over the long term.
Get out and explore the city
While Kolektif seems to be one of the leading co-working spaces, with a lot to offer, others have popped up in town with their own personalities and features. Here are a few of the spots that came with good recommendations.
1. Starters Hub
Historically, Istanbul has always offered a unique mix of cosmopolitan flavors, providing a poignant mix of East and West that can make any visitor feel instantly both at home and intrigued. The co-working spaces that are popping up throughout the city bring with them a combination of all the amenities that one would look for in the U.S., Israel, or elsewhere. They have an atmosphere that is vibrant and unique to the city.
As the startup scene continues to expand, so too are facilities that are being set up to support their work and allow their innovation to flourish. If you are looking to better understand Istanbul’s tech scene, pay a visit to its incubators and coworking spaces, speak with the young teams hard at work there, and see for yourself how they are laying the groundwork to improve their ecosystem for the next generation of entrepreneurs.