Can corporations innovate like startups?

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We are mostly giving bits of advice to startups in our blog, thanks to our experience that we gained seeing the lifespan and mentoring hundreds of startups in our programs or events. Even if we are trying to change the mindset of our corporate friends with those events, in the end, they are still working for corporates.

As I was writing this blog while watching Top Gear on my 2nd screen, I can say that while a startup is like a Caparo T1 which has twice the power-to-weight ratio of the Bugatti Veyron, but completely untamed. On the other hand, a corporation is like 18-wheeler; powerful with more control, yet slow. But can that truck let go of its wagon to get more agility? Not quite.

caparo t1
Believe it or not: This thing is street-legal.

As Hackquarters, our team has a corporate background, so we can easily tell that we understand what you need to go through in a corporate environment. We know about some of the obvious problems in most of the corporations.

Fear of rejection in corporate “battlefield”

While we use those fancy words a lot in our startup environment, it’s hard to be innovative or disruptive in a corporate hierarchy. Usually, innovation is “commanded” from the top to the bottom in corporations, yet our experience shows that it starts from the bottom to the top. But we have “brave warriors” within the corporations that we work with, who fight for innovation within the company and luckily they have the support to make mistakes for the better good.

“I love my job, more than you do”

In a corporate environment, most people have their own agenda for keeping their job, appear successful (even if they suck) or gaining promotion. They are usually not brave enough to take responsibility within the company to create space for innovation. They have “What if I fail?” in their mind and they don’t want to lose their ground for possible future opportunities.

Trust issues within the company

Most corporations want to keep their privacy. They list lots of unnecessary things as confidential. When you want to sign an agreement with a corporation, there will be at least a few “confidentiality” clauses within the contract and this also applies to their employees. In some companies, even information exchange between some departments is limited (and I worked for one of those companies. Can’t tell the name; it’s confidential).

When it comes to innovation, things do change a bit, but in the end, you still can only see the top of the iceberg only. So when someone from the lower levels of hierarchy tries to do something new, he/she can hit an invisible wall (like the ones in old racing games like Need For Speed).

Turnover rates in managerial positions

It’s not like the 70s or 80s when people work for a single factory for 40 years until they retire. According to research, %21 of millennials change their job almost every year and 60% of them are looking to change their jobs. Thanks to them, it’s no different on managerial positions. And this situation affects innovation possibilities on corporations.

Assume that you have a great, supporting manager who appreciates your efforts on innovation, but in the middle of a great project he lands another job and leaves your company. The new manager is not very fond of innovative projects and he doesn’t want to risk his new position. There goes your effort, right into the trash bin of ideas.

Vanity metrics FTW!

As corporations usually can’t move as a whole, turnover rates in lower positions or managerial positions hinder the progress toward innovation.

Costly and risky experiments are a NO NO

As an entrepreneur, usually you don’t have much to lose, because you already know that less than 10% of startups “succeed” and this number is lower in entrepreneurs below 45. You can experiment, you can try new things that even it’s idiotic to some people. But it’s OK, you don’t lose much if you fail, and if you hit rock bottom, you can just insert another coin to start from the beginning. As a corporation, this is not applicable.

Corporations can try new things, but if they fail, they may lose a lot of money, which makes investors very unhappy and sometimes even causes the corporation to go bankrupt.

When a startup builds their plan, they can take a high risk – high reward path. If they succeed, they enter that 10% we mentioned before. A corporation, on the other hand, doesn’t take high risk unless its absolutely necessary.

Is innovation “impossible” in established corporations?

If the answer was “Yes“, we would be looking for another business. But most of the corporations are trying to handle innovation on their own, and 84% of them just spend money without any results at all. In fact, their expectations were neither met nor exceeded and the gap between expectation and meeting were so enormous, so it was considered a failure. Corporations cannibalize innovation (without guidance).

Here’s our secret. We push the secret INNOVATE button.

It is said that “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, but the most adaptable”. Corporations can’t adapt as fast as a startup. When a startup feels like “blockchain is sexy“, they can integrate blockchain into their model. But for a corporation, this operation needs lots of research, lots of manpower and lots of approvals. When they are ready to adapt, usually it is no longer “sexy”. It is just like my example at the beginning: Caparo T1 vs 18-wheeler.

Corporations need “startup-like” mind to innovate their current processes, and this is possible with collaboration. Partnership with a startup is a win-win for both parties. A startup can gain opportunities such as market access, workforce, resources and visibility from corporations, while corporations can gain agility, endless new ideas, willingness to take risks and potential high growth.

But how?

Solution: Inbound Open Innovation Projects

As we stated before: Corporations cannibalize innovation. But also, “All generalizations are false, including this one” as Mark Twain said. As Hackquarters, we are working with the few that chooses inbound open innovation as their way to keep pace with the new generation.

Inbound Open Innovation is a way of collaboration that corporations choose to include external resources into their own processes. Managing innovation effectively means rethinking corporations as a whole and usually problems are invisible from the inside. In Turkish, we have a saying “… you need a third eye” and this fits perfectly to this situation. Even if you believe that you are a digital, innovative company, you can not see what you are doing wrong. Hackquarters is the third eye.

Grants4Apps program that we are proud of!

In short, there is a growing culture of innovation and raising awareness of the need to review corporations as a whole, review processes with a view to seize opportunities for innovation, absorb knowledge and increase the engagement from all levels within the corporation. One of the most basic obstacles to moving forward on the road to innovation is whether or not employees within the corporation are aware of the challenges. Because if they’re not aware of the challenges they won’t get involved in the solution. Basic awareness about those challenges is probably the key indicator of how well the process will do.

As Hackquarters we provided lots of startup engagament to corporations such as Isbank, Bayer, Here and many more. If you need guidance on your way to true innovation, we would always love to have a cup of coffee and chat about what we can accomplish together.

Having a Global Growth Mindset Family Makes All the Difference


This year I was privileged to be a Fellow at German Marshall Fund of United States of America in “Young Transatlantic Innovation Leaders Initiative. Yes, I know the title is really long, but the experience was incredible. This program is designed for transatlantic cooperation as the name and GMF suggest. Being skeptic in the beginning, when we arrived to Lisbon for our initial onboarding meeting, my mind cleared.

Seeing 71 likeminded people from 40 different countries, running startups, accelerators and NGOs I felt in a warm and good company. Besides the my fellows, we had incredible people mentoring during the program.

Having a startup and starting to scale is really hard. Besides financial problems that you face, all the pressure that you feel from people around you and society is another part; where most of us are unprepared for. Having people with similar problems, or paths gives you an incredible freedom of talking without any prejudice is an incredible support, which is hard to get in anywhere in the world.

After onboarding in Portugal, we had our US missions in two cities. I was lucky enough to be with brilliant people and sent to Seattle, WA. Go #SeattleUnit.  All fellows, basically spread to 10 different cities and had roughly 1 full week in our destinations cities. Then, all fellows rejoined at Washington, DC to close the program and become Alumni of this incredible program.

I see this program in two parts;

1. Program Itself:

YTILI is a young and well-thought program designed to connect us with US counterparts, potential investors, partners and understand how the US government works on the innovation economy. Being said that was the value proposal of the program, YTILI delivers all promises.

Starting in Portugal, we had great mentors/investors to learn from. And having the chance to meet with fellows closer. It was a great week adding up to another good event – Lisbon Investment Summit.

Then, in Seattle it was an intense week of networking and customer development. For myself, it was incredible to meet with M12 Ventures, Alexa Fund, Alexa Accelerator, Amazon team, WeWorkLabs and many people who had lots to offer. Our mentor team in Seattle was great as well. I can’t thank enough to Lowell Ricklefs, Gillian Muessig, Anne Kennedy, Ryan Biava, David Harris, and I strongly suggest them to anyone planning to visit Seattle for similar reasons.

2. What Program Delivers

Having 70 more people, ambitious, well developed, hustling for a while all conversations are bliss. I had my #SeattleUnit, and we started a great friendship in that intense week of hustling. Peer mentoring and support helped us significantly both to our ventures and personalities.

Seeing the status of entrepreneurship in different countries brought us lots of homework for our hometowns.

And the best thing is we have a basic WhatsApp group, whatever you ask is granted at least from one fellow, which is like magic.

Good thing is, applications for 2018’s fellows is still open. If you are under 35 and in GMF zone, highly suggest that you apply for the program and love to give you a reference. It is not a program, it is an acceptance to a family, which I believe will bring lots of successful companies or impact to our own economies. More details are here ->

Photo credits: If it is a good photo, most probably from Niko’s Instagram. Too bad he has another startup ☺ Thanks Niko!

Another shoutout to my fellow #SeattleUnit startups.

France –
Belgium –
Cyprus –
Greece –
Spain –
Portugal –
Georgia –
Croatia –
Slovakia –

10 great startups graduated from Workup by Isbank with Demo Day

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We recently mentioned Workup by Isbank program twice in our blog. We see Workup as one of the most prominent work we have done in last 2 years as we mentioned in our Best of 2018 by Hackquarters blog and also we did let our followers know that you can still apply for upcoming batches of Workup. As Hackquarters we love working with Isbank because they are one of the most innovative companies in Turkey, regarding startup engagement.

Workup is an acceleration program which is open to all startups from early stage to seed-funded startups. As you can get from the name, the main supporter of the program is Isbank, while Hackquarters is responsible for the content of the program and overall management, with the valuable help of Kolektif House. Last Friday, Workup got 10 new graduates from the program with Demo Day.

10 startups were deemed successful enough to graduate from the program including Animega, compocket, doktorderki, Epiqur, Hangi Üniversite Hangi Bölüm, Her yerde pilates, leadonly, onboardio, startupHR and Userguiding.

Probably the most famous technology and innovation columnist in Turkey, Serdar Kuzuloğlu, aka Chief of Turkish Internet Gang, was the host of Demo Day. After his opening speech, we got a little quiz (thanks to Poltio). Then, Isbank CEO, Adnan Bali was on stage talking about their vision for the future with startups and innovation that they provide. After Adnan Bali, lead mentor of Workup by Isbank, Omer Erkmen was on stage with his speech. Our partner for the program, CEO of Kolektif House, Ahmet Onur took over stage talking about their collaboration with Isbank and Hackquarters. And finally, CEO of Hackquarters, Kaan Akın has taken over the stage with huge applause from startups and audience, as mentioned by Serdar Kuzuloğlu. Kaan thanked everyone involved in the program and talked about the success that we helped achieve.

After opening speeches by people mentioned above, finally, startups took over the whole show with their great presentations. Each startup landed on the stage with a song of their choosing and with great applause from the audience, then they each performed a 5 min long presentation for what they are doing.

Here are 10 graduates from Workup by Isbank program;

Animega is a content platform for anime shows and manga available all around the world on mobile. Animega is a freemium content platform that brings together different types of anime content.

Compocket wants to create a world where everyone can learn and practice electronics easily to create tomorrow’s technology. It is not possible with today’s old, heavy and expensive electronics measurement devices. To solve this problem, Compocket created high tech devices for students, makers and technical services which are pocket sized and mobile based with a simple interface. It also gives its users the freedom to personalize their devices with add-ons according to their own interests. The first product Minis: World’s Smallest Oscilloscope now has pre-orders and today the beta product is being used by different people around the world.

Doktorderki is a mobile platform that provides true health consciousness via one to one messaging with specialists.

Epiqur is a live streaming platform designed for music performances specifically, in our terms a Digital Music Hall. Epiqur developed a hardware called “Epiqur Gear” that enables to live stream audio in High-quality. Receiving the video through the Epiqur App, two channels are merged on servers then streamed fully synchronised. The platform simultaneously records the performances and store them as an on-demand content.

Hangi Üniversite Hangi Bölüm guides students in Turkey on their path to college by providing them insights from students studying in specific universities. is Turkey’s first online Pilates studio. Many people are unable to attend Pilates classes due to lack of easy access to studios, schedule conflicts, and high costs. is developed to offer high quality, online Pilates classes for everyone with a monthly subscription fee less than one “group mat Pilates” class.

Leadonly creates digital patient acquisition funnels and improve their performances constantly by tracking them from one end to the other. Our aim is to provide maximum amount of sales for our customers with the lowest costs.

Onboardio is a pre-chat customer engagement tool, which instantly resolves most frequent questions for live chat using businesses.

StartupHR is a digital platform that allows you to join the entrepreneurship ecosystem of the future and work in startups, find partners, expand your team and grow your startup.

Userguiding help companies to improve product adoption by designing interactive guides and result-oriented walkthroughs without coding.

Best of 2018 by Hackquarters: What we achieved in 2018


It was a great year for Hackquarters. When you read a company blog, you would think that “Well, you will say this anyway, even if it was a bad year for yourselves”. But the thing is it was really a year full of great events that we organized, helped to organize or attended. You will find our events in 2018 in this article, which made us proud like a peacock. Events are ordered by date. You can click on either title or the related photo

Aksigorta Startup Challenge

10 startups working on insurtech, digital health and technology presented their work to the jury from Aksigorta executives. 3 startups, including Vivoo, Drivebuddy, and, have been given awards for their success.

Grants4Apps by Bayer

Bayer Türk professionals and Hackquarters team chose 6 startups for Grants4Apps Turkey, including Yubi, Tion, Digime3D, Vivoo, Pons, and PatiBuddy. Bayer Grants4Apps is a global program that offers support to startups and companies that are developing innovative solutions in health and care.


The first day of HackCon 2 started with the welcoming speech by Kaan Akin, Hackquarters CEO& Founder. After the intro, Omegas joined Kaan on stage to share their experience with the Pioneers. Among the questions discussed during the panel were tricks to build a powerful team, and lessons learned.

Blockchain event at Yıldız Teknopark

Kaan Akın was on stage for “Blockchain” event at Yıldız Technical University. Hackquarters team were mentoring for all startups within Yıldız Teknopark in STARVISE program.

Global Pitch

Hackquarters got invited as members of the jury for the biggest online pitching competition in the world. Hundreds of startups from all around the world applied for the event and after initial elimination, finalists presented their projects online to the jury. The competition was focused on various topics such as sustainability, renewable energy, data, e-governments, smart cities etc.

MediaMarkt Startup Challenge

With MediaMarkt Startup Challenge, MediaMarkt Turkey was looking for technologies to improve their processes in retailtech. 3 winners, which includes Buybuddy, Udentify and Pacer,  have been awarded with great prizes from MediaMarkt executives. Winner of the challenge, Buybuddy, got the chance to present their product at Retailtech Hub 2018.

Investment in Turkish Startups Summit (in Berlin)

Hackquarters was in Berlin for Investment in Turkish Startups Summit. We helped Istanbul Startup Angels, Turkish Technology Team and ISPAT organize the event and Kaan Akın was one of the speakers at the summit.

Red Bull Amaphiko Connect

We visited various universities all around Turkey with our friends from startup ecosystem and thanks to Red Bull. Red Bull Amaphiko is an entrepreneurship project which focuses on social impact.

Workup by Isbank

Workup is an acceleration program which is open to all startups from early stage to seed-funded startups. As you can get from the name, the main supporter of the program is Isbank, while Hackquarters is responsible for the content of the program and overall management, with the valuable help of Kolektif House.

Kaan Akın is live on Bloomberg HT

Hackquarters founder Kaan Akın was live as a guest for Girişimcilik Dünyası (World of Entrepreneurship) on Bloomberg HT.

Kässbohrer: 125 years of Innovation (in Ulm)

Mainly focusing on mobility, professionals from all over the world had the chance to witness future of automotive and logistics industry. Hackquarters team attended the event with our friends from TIRSAN. Entrepreneurs from startups which are selected to present in front of that audience also talked about their startups and gave valuable messages to entrepreneurs.


We had breakfast together and talked briefly about what we were doing from the beginning and what is next. During the gathering, we realized that our community has expanded more than we expected. We’ve organized really cool events, inspiring high school and university students since September 2017.

Hackquarters is in WIRED UK Magazine

WiredUK has published the article about top 100 startups in Europe, which includes 10 Turkish startups, with the help of Hackquarters founder Kaan Akın.

Kaan Akın is live on CNN Türk

Hackquarters founder, Kaan Akın , was live on CNN Türk, talking about the biggest free startup event in the world, Take Off Istanbul Startup Summit.

Take Off Istanbul Startup Summit

Take Off Istanbul Startup Summit was the biggest free startup festival in the world. Thanks to our friends at Turkey Technology Team and Invest in Turkey, we were prepared for hordes of startups arriving at Istanbul. We have received more than 2000 applications for Take Off Istanbul Startup Summit, from more than 80 different countries, all around the world. The event took place within Teknofest Istanbul Aerospace and Technology Festival, which is also a one of a kind event in its own category. For that reason, Teknofest and Take Off took place in Istanbul’s new, huge airport, which is set for official opening on Republic Day, October 29th.

NEM Meetup #1

Hackquarters organized the first official NEM Meetup in Istanbul. Even if we did not have much time for registrations and preparations and we hosted fewer people than we wanted, our first event with NEM was a success according to feedback from our audience. We hosted our event in Kolektif House Maslak, which is a great co-working space and “natural habitat” to startups and entrepreneurs.

Kaan Akın presented Hackquarters in the 2018 YTILI Fellowship

Hackquarters was one of 10 startups, who presented comprise the 2018 cohort of the Young Transatlantic Innovation Leadership Initiative (YTILI) Fellowship, a program run by the U.S. Department of State. With support from the U.S. German Marshall Fund, YTILI brings European entrepreneurs across the Atlantic and connects them with mentors and leadership training.

Gitex Future Stars (in Dubai)

Our friends at NEM Dubai Office invited us to Dubai to take part in Gitex Future Stars. We gladly accepted the invitation. Gitex Future Stars is probably one of the biggest startup related events in the MENA region. There were a few startup competitions and lots of awards to be given to entrepreneurs.

Google Assistant: Build Actions for Your Community (in İzmir)

Recently, we were very happy to collaborate on Google for their “Build Actions for Your Community” events in Turkey, which currently focuses on Google Assistant. Hackquarters team joined the event in EBILTEM (Ege University Science, Technology and Research Center), İzmir. Along with our team, GDG İzmir team and our friends from Google and our friends (Berkay Yavuz, Aziz Akgül, Çağın Torkut, Muhammet Enginar and Engin Dogusoy) joined us as mentors in the event.


We got together for our 4th HackCon at Kolektif House Maslak. A warm “Welcome Home” speech was made by Kaan Akın, explaining what we’ve accomplished before, our aim for the future and what we expect from our new batch of Pioneers. As Pioneers, we love talking on Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning, Digital Transformation, and IoT/Smart Machines. We will try to provide more resources and feed our new Pioneers with great information on those topics.

10 Food startups was at Impact Hub Istanbul for EIT Food

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Our followers on social media are always the ones, that get the news related to Hackquarters, first. As you are aware, Hackquarters founder, Kaan, was attending an event last week that we announced on our social media channels. The event was organized by EIT Food, which is a consortium of 50 partners with the ambition to create a future-proof & effective food sector through a connected food system. EIT Food is supported by EIT, which stands for European Institute of Innovation and Technology. The event was hosted by Impact Hub Istanbul.

Here are competing Turkish startups for EIT Food;


Batır is a company focusing on creating healthy, all-natural, nutritious snacks, which is easy to carry and packaged for daily consumption. Batır is using mostly local ingredients in their products.

Can Hydroponics

Can Hydroponics grow micro-greens using local and natural seeds without any additives, hormones, GMOs or fertilizers. Rather than using plastic pots, they are using waxed fabrics and water. Some of their products have up to 200 times more nutritional values than their traditional counterparts.


HAD (or Human Architectural Development) is a startup focusing on rooftop agriculture. They help communities produce soil from kitchen waste. They also help those communities with agricultural ecosystem by helping breed bees, worms or chicken. With those actions, they are hoping to contribute lower carbon emissions in cities.


Hyggefisk aims to provide nature-friendly, healthy, sustainable and low-budget alternatives to luxurious animal-origin food, by using vegetable alternatives. They are already working with some hotels and restaurants with their vegetable-based caviars.


MUMO Wrap is a health alternative to traditional fridge bags, plastic or aliminum foil. It’s made of fabric coated with wax, pine resin and coconut oil. Their product is reusable, healtier than its alternatives and keeps food fresh for longer.


Naturansa‘s name is based on latin words Natura (natural) and Ansa (cycle). Based on their name, team is working on sustainable, modern and ecological food and food systems with scientific and technological research. They are working with black soldier flies (BSF, Hermetia illucens) and they are feeding flies with food waste. Feeding with natural products, BSF also provides “the cycle” with edible larvae and natural fertilizer.

Nu Snacks

Nu Snacks products are hoping to help people with health snacks without any gluten or sugar. They have raw bar, granola and nutbutter products currently on market.

Shaman’s Secret

Shaman’s Secret has been founded by Beril, who grow up within a family, interested in nature and natural products. She decided to turn their home-made kombucha into a product. Their products vary such as kombucha starter’s kit and dried kombucha cultivation kit.


HAUS produces healthy, dried food with a special technique called “freeze dry”. Their technique sucks out 98% of humidity from food such as cheese, olives, okra, and thus keeps in nutritional values of their products. Their food not only keeps its shape and nutritional values, but also has long years of shelf life. (Editor’s note: I tried it. They are awesome)


Tarlamvar is working closely with farmers all across Turkey. They are removing middle-man, and lets customers reach out to farmers, who grow all-natural products. Customers “adopt” trees or farms and they get their products delivered to their homes, directly from the farmer.

Lord of the Rings: The story of an entrepreneur

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(If you did not watch or read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, things I will mention in my blog will make no sense to you. Also, come on… You didn’t watch that masterpiece yet? You need to. Otherwise, you will get spoilers. *SPOILER ALERT*)

In a previous blog that I wrote, I mentioned “3 Idiots” as my favorite movie of all time (and now I remember that we deleted that part). But for me, that’s because the Lord of the Rings trilogy is in a completely different class than movies. I probably watched complete trilogy more than 5 times; and every time I watch the extended version, I notice something new.

There are lots of myths about the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Some say that J.R.R. Tolkien got influenced by Norse mythology, some say he got ideas from Epic of Gilgamesh and some even say that he got influenced by early nomadic Turkic tribes while creating orcs. But today, we will assume that he foresaw entrepreneurs and their problems.

The main characters and their roles in your startup

I think almost all of the main characters in the Lord of the Rings can be applied to a startup in various ways. I will tell about them in detail and what you can learn from them in the following paragraphs.

Samwise Gamgee = The Founder
Frodo Baggins = Your Product
The One Ring = Your Growth Strategy
Merry and Pippin = Your Team
Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli = the Accelerator Team
Gandalf = the Mentor
Lord Elrond = the Investor
Sauron = the Corporate
Gollum = Your main competitor

It starts to make sense now. Right? There are a lot of side characters that you encounter on your way to success, but we will talk about them later.

Main Characters

Gollum, the Fuckup Story

You might be asking “Why are you starting with Gollum?”. The reason is that Gollum and ring bearers before him are all bad examples. Gollum came across the One Ring by chance and for that power, he even killed a friend for the love of this Ring.

Gollum has been carrying the ring for ages before he lost the ring. He fell in love with the idea of power that the Ring provided, he didn’t even notice that it is killing him from the inside. One Ring gave him an eternal life, but he was just surviving.
Gollum still had a good side of him, before he was Smeagol. But he lost all of it during the time he carried the Ring. He can be helpful to you, but not to be trusted. You need to stay on your feet during your own journey. He lead Sam and Frodo to a secret path, but that path might lead to Shelob.

Lesson to learn: Do not fall in love with an idea. Fall in love with your business. Learn from the mistakes of other startups who failed while trying what you are trying to do.

Samwise, Frodo and the Ring

If you ask people about the main character of the Lord of the Rings, you will see that most people think that Frodo Baggins is the lead character. But if you ask the real fans of the series, you will probably hear that Samwise Gamgee is “the one”. And also as a fan, I can relate to that.

Story of a founder.

Samwise was the founder of the startup to solve a problem. The problem is that One Ring needs to be destroyed, to give the power back to free folks of Middle-Earth. There is a lot of potential in Frodo, but he is yet to discover. He needs to destroy the Ring with Frodo so that Frodo can be free of his chains. The One Ring is Frodo’s burden, and Samwise needs to carry this burden to lead Frodo to success. Sam needs to carry Frodo to Mount Doom to get rid of the One Ring. Sam takes a leap of faith while in cornfields outside of Shire, as he gets as far away as his home he has ever been.

As you can see from the whole paragraph above, I’m not very fond of Frodo. Frodo is a useless pile of shit without Sam’s guidance. Sam needs to shape Frodo as a character. And one-time he gets so bored of his bad trips that he abandons Frodo, only to save him from death later on.

As the founder (Samwise) of a startup, you need a product (Frodo) and a growth strategy (the One Ring). Your growth strategy is not always a pretty thing. It might help you grow, help you get more people around you, but it is not necessarily the main thing you want out of your product.

I don’t want to name any startups, yet I can use them as an example. One of our beloved startups are trying to create a platform for their customers to use, which aims to be an autonomous system them fulfill their needs. But while they are growing, they are working just like an agency and they are completing tasks for their customers that their platform is supposed to do. That’s their growth strategy. But when they reach enough customers and show people that “their platform can do that”, they will abandon their “working as an agency” strategy and move people onto their platform. They are looking for the day that Frodo throws the ring into the fires of Mount Doom.

Lesson to learn: Your growth strategy is not necessarily a thing you want to do at the end of the day. But if it will move you to the top, you need to go for it.

The Team: Merry and Pippin

Merriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took are overlooked characters in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. They are friends to Frodo and Samwise, but they were not supposed to join the journey of the One Ring. Their paths have crossed with Sam and Frodo and the situation made them form a team. Another interesting fact is that in LotR lore, Merry was aware of the One Ring, way before Frodo and Sam started their journey. Merry saw Bilbo use the ring once and then read Bilbo’s journal to learn more about the ring, But he kept this information to himself, probably thinking that no one would believe him.

In the movies, Merry and Pippin were the ones who took care of Frodo, Samwise and the Ring at the beginning. While Ringwraiths were following them in the woods, Merry and Pippin got them out of a sticky situation. Merry and Pippin was not parted with Frodo along the way, even in the council that formed the Fellowship of the Ring. They even brought down Saruman without help from anyone but Ents, that they convinced that Saruman is hurting their forest.

They have fuckup stories as well, of course. You remember the fire atop Weathertop? Because of their foolishness, Ringwraiths found their place, but thanks to Aragorn, they got out alive. And the reason they got alive was that Aragorn convinced Arwen to help them.

They fought for Frodo till the very end and they did everything they can for Frodo. Did they cause problems? Definitely.

Lesson to learn: Pick guys who believe in you and can give everything they have on your way to success. They don’t need to be superstars at the beginning but have the potential to be one. It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.

Gandalf, the Mentor

Gandalf is the superstar of Middle-Earth. He has a mighty beard, a cool-looking staff. He can talk to butterflies and call-in giant badass eagles. But he has experience that no other mortal can provide, and that’s his main thing in the movies. You would love to have someone like Gandalf in your team.

Rather than taking the Ring for himself, he brings together Sam and Frodo for this opportunity (or burden). He believes that together, they can destroy the Ring, but he is also aware that they will need help along the way. He helps form the Fellowship of the Ring, which can lead the quest to success. Gandalf helps the team of Hobbits meet with “big guys”.

At the end, Sam and Frodo needs to take the journey. Even if they got a lot of help, and certainly would fail without it, they got to Mount Doom by themselves.

Lesson to learn: You need experience on your way to success. A mentor can talk the talk, yet you have to walk the walk.

Lord Elrond, the Investor

After first funding from Lord Elrond.

Lord Elrond is also one of the overlooked characters in Lord of the Rings. He is the Lord of Rivendell, home of the Elves, and he believes in Sam and Frodo. The reason why is that he believes with his investment in them, they can defeat Sauron by destroying the Ring. So he calls his friends (I know, I know. Dwarves) for aid in this quest. As he also wants to destroy Sauron, he gives a shot to the Fellowship of the Ring. He knows it is not easy to defeat Sauron on a battlefield. That’s why he also doesn’t want the ring in Rivendell. He doesn’t want to piss off Sauron (for now).

In the past, he was in a team which reached the top of Mount Doom and was so close to destroying Sauron for good. Yet his team was not up to the task and rather than following his instincts and experience, he let it slip.

Lesson to Learn: An investor can help you meet with right people and those people can guide you to your success. He may have valuable experience and power that you can use on your quest.

The Fellowship of the Ring: Accelerator

Basically the life of an entrepreneur.

We all know that Frodo and Samwise would lose the ring easily to Sauron if the Fellowship wasn’t there. Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and Boromir are warriors that can help the Hobbits overcome obstacles on their way. They came across Aragorn while he was still known as Strider in Prancing Pony Inn. Even if they were not very keen on joining him, Aragorn helped them stay alive with his experience.

Except for Boromir, they are all selfless guys who just want Middle Earth to be a better place, so they help Sam and Frodo on their quest. Boromir, on the other hand, wants the power for himself. He thinks that the power of One Ring will be much more helpful for his personal goals.

Lesson to Learn: An Accelerator can put your team and your business on the right path. They also work as one of your team and help you reach your goals faster. (I’m talking about Hackquarters, of course. The article is on our blog. Have you really thought that I would not include Hackquarters in some way?)

Sauron and his Entourage: Big Bad Corporation

Sauron is our bad guy in the movie. He created the One Ring in secret and by distributing his other rings to leaders of Middle-Earth, he became the most powerful guy of his time. He just gave the leaders of Men, Elves, and Dwarves the sense of power and made them his slaves. He lost some of his power as he lost the Ring, yet still controls a lot of power from his prime. Sauron wants back the power, so he sends all of his forces against the people of Middle-Earth, hoping to get the One Ring back.

The One Ring is also dependant on Sauron, which is a pretty bad thing on Sam and Frodo’s quest. But they need to resist his power and use it only when they need it the most.

#JusticeForSaruman #GandalfTheTraitor

Sauron sends his lawyers, accountants, marketing and PR guys after Frodo and Sam. Those Ringwraiths also have day jobs. Do you really think that running a place like Mordor is easy? Of course, Sauron has guys like Ringwraiths to do his bidding. Those poor guys followed Arwen to their Doom so that they can use it as a PR campaign against the Elves. Don’t you remember the news after that river incident: “Ringwraith lives matter”. Also, do not forget barbarian Ents destroying Saruman’s R&D center.

Lesson to learn: Disruptive is a word that startups use a lot. Being disruptive helps you make enemies on your way. You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain (What? I love Batman trilogy, too)

Other Characters

Theoden, the Lord that may be of help

Theoden is the Lord of Rohan, who got mindwashed by Saruman to do his bidding. The Fellowship of the Ring (or at least the ones who are left) help him break free of Saruman’s chains. In the end, Theoden helps in the Battle of Minas Tirith, to return the favor for the Fellowship’s help at Helm’s Deep. In the end, he helped them stay alive longer, but if he wasn’t there at Minas Tirith, Aragorn would’ve swept the remaining Sauron forces with Army of the Dead anyway.

Lesson to Learn: Some people may be helpful on your way, but they have their own agenda. Even if they can be of help, they are not necessarily helping you directly. Try to get as much help from them as possible.

Galadriel, the potential Investor

Galadriel is Lady of the Woods. She was a potential investor for the Fellowship as their paths crossed. Galadriel thought about getting the ring for herself, but at the end, she decides that rather than taking it for herself, letting Frodo keep the ring was for the best. She even blessed Frodo with the Light of Eärendil, which helped Sam and Frodo overcome Shelob.

Lesson to Learn: Don’t be shy of meeting people with power. Even if they don’t directly invest to your cause, they may be of help.

Tom Bombadil the “Who?”

Blockchain is…

As a fan of the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, I’m not very familiar with Tom Bombadil. I’ve read about him, as fans of the books were talking about him a lot. But I agree with Peter Jackson on not including him into the movies. Peter Jackson justified his omission of Bombadil from the film The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by pointing out that he did little to advance the story, having nothing to do with the Ring storyline, and serving little purpose when it came to getting the hobbits to Rivendell, and putting together the Fellowship.

Tom Bombadil is the “blockchain” of Middle-Earth. Everyone knows about him, they think that he is a crazy but lovable guy. But they don’t know what to do with him.

Lesson to Learn: Don’t include technologies and features to your startup, just because they sound sexy.

Hackquarters invites you to Seedstars MENA Summit

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Seedstars is one of those lovely partners that we love to collaborate with. As you can remember, they held their Seedstars Istanbul event within Take Off Istanbul Startup Summit with us. Our CEO, Kaan Akın, is also a mentor and ambassador to Seedstars.

Our generous friends at Seedstars recently invited us to Beirut, Lebanon for their Seedstars MENA Summit event. They also want our friends, like yourself, to attend the event in Beirut. So, if you happen to be in Beirut, or you can travel there for the event, we would love to provide free entrance to Seedstars MENA Summit. You can email gokhan[at] for your free passes for the event. And after we send back your “secret code” for the free pass, you can claim it here.

About the Seedstars MENA Summit

The Seedstars MENA Regional Summit, hosted under the Patronage of the Prime Minister’s Office and taking place in Beirut, Lebanon, on November 29, 2018, aims at bridging the gap between ecosystems and connecting regional stakeholders in order to promote and foster entrepreneurship and technology in emerging markets as a way to impact people’s lives. An event with the purpose to shape the future of MENA!

The event marks the end of Seedstars’ tour across 15 vibrant ecosystems in the Middle East and North Africa, and all winners from across the region will be joining us in Beirut!

Seedstars is bringing together active investors, top corporates, digital government actors, tech and business media, and of course, ambitious entrepreneurs from the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and the US, to share insights and gain key learnings, foster collaboration and investment opportunities, enable valuable connections both regionally and globally, and inspire attendees to believe in the potential of innovation in MENA.

An intensive and exciting program has been tailored for the regional winners and for all attendees, from a bootcamp, mentorship sessions, to a hackathon, leading up to the regional conference. The Summit will end with the conference and will include an investor forum, disruptive panels, networking sessions, engaging workshops, inspirational talks from top entrepreneurs, and pitches from rockstar Seedstars winners.

Google Assistant event in İzmir: Build Actions for Your Community


Recently, we were very happy to collaborate on Google for their “Build Actions for Your Community” events in Turkey, which currently focuses on Google Assistant. Representing Hackquarters, Esengül and Gökhan from our team joined the event in EBILTEM (Ege Üniverstesi Bilim Teknoloji Uygulama ve Araştırma Merkezi –  Ege University Science, Technology and Research Center), İzmir. Along with our team, GDG İzmir team and our friends from Google and our friends (Berkay Yavuz, Aziz Akgül, Çağın Torkut, Muhammet Enginar and Engin Dogusoy) joined us as mentors in the event.

Event started with a small presentation from Google Turkey team, explaining their expectations from developer community and what they offer. After that our beloved mentors took over the stage and told audience more about Google Assistant and its opportunities. Our expert developers also guided audience through step-by-step codelabs (first part that requires minimum level of coding and more advanced second part) that Google developers put together. Also they teached basics of how to build VUI (Voice User Interface) and its differences from GUI (Graphical User Interface).

As our event was more like a workshop, rather than a routine presentation, attendees also presented their builds after initial presentations. There were 3 nice projects which was presented by relevant teams.

We would like to thank all participants, Google team, GDG Izmir team and our mentors who honored us by traveling all the way from Istanbul to Izmir with us.

Hackquarters attended GITEX Future Stars ’18 in Dubai


As you are all aware, we recently organized the First Official NEM Istanbul Meetup, thanks to our friends in NEM Dubai office. We are currently on the planning phase of our upcoming events with NEM. As our ties grow stronger with NEM community, our friends invited us to Dubai to take part in Gitex Future Stars. We gladly accepted the invitation.

Gitex Future Stars is probably one of the biggest startup related events in the MENA region. There were a few startup competitions and lots of awards to be given to entrepreneurs. Our hall was filled with startups from various different verticals, such as software, space tech, health tech, artificial intelligence, and blockchain. Thanks to NEM, our booth was in blockchain part of GFS (Gitex Future Stars).

Great Opportunity for All Startups who target MENA

Not only startups, but there were a lot of startup accelerator programs, investors were there from various regions such as India, USA, Dubai and more. Entrepreneurs found the chance to arrange meetings with investors within dedicated areas for such meetings. Competitions such as Supernova Challenge also gave startups to pitch their ideas in front of potential investors.

As for Hackquarters, it was a very efficient and fun event. We had the chance to meet new startups and corporations from all around the globe which we hope to collaborate in the coming months. We also had the chance to meet a lot of new people from NEM team and great startups within the NEM blockchain ecosystem.

Familiar Faces in Dubai

It was also great to see some startups from our Take Off Istanbul Startup Summit event in Dubai. As most of you are aware, as Hackquarters, we hosted more than 200 startups from all around the world in Istanbul for our event. We also had the chance to meet some new Turkish corporations and startups that we came across in Dubai.

Taking part in GFS and having our own booth was a great experience, and thanks to our friends at NEM Dubai office, we had the chance to meet a lot of new people from the blockchain industry. Hopefully, we will be attending Gitex again next year. Until then, don’t forget to follow our social media channels for the latest news from the startup scene and Hackquarters.

Hackquarters hosted first official NEM Blockchain Meetup in Istanbul

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Our love for blockchain can easily be seen from our recent blog posts. As most of our followers are aware, we were preparing for the first official NEM Meetup in Istanbul. Even if we did not have much time for registrations and preparations and we hosted fewer people than we wanted, our first event with NEM was a success according to feedback from our audience.

We hosted our event in Kolektif House Maslak, which is a great co-working space and “natural habitat” to startups and entrepreneurs. Kolektif House Maslak is located in the business district of Maslak, which is very close to metro and bus stops in the area. We arranged KoLounge, which is a huge presentation space with a capacity of more than 100 people.

“We are here for technology”

There were more than 60 registrations to our Eventbrite page about the event, but there were around 25 people attending from the Eventbrite list. With our friends from the startup community in Istanbul, the total number of attendees was around 35. But the thing is, most of our attendees were real “blockchain enthusiasts“, which was our main goal while trying to gather people for our event. We love cryptocurrencies and investment opportunities on coins too, but for our event, our aim was to gather “We are here for the technology” type of enthusiasts.

The first official NEM Blockchain Istanbul Meetup has started with the opening speech from Hackquarters CEO, Kaan Akın. After his welcoming speech, Donabelle Rinon and Paul Christian Espiritu from NEM Middle East Team took over the stage. They provided the audience with great presentations on Blockchain 101 and NEM 101.

Turkey has great potential on the blockchain

After the presentations, we had a Q&A session, with great questions from our audience. Our enthusiasts was very curious about not only XEM, the main cryptocurrency of NEM ecosystem, but also development side.

During our dedicated networking time, we also had the chance to talk to NEM representatives about Turkey and the blockchain ecosystem here. We will keep working with NEM for more meetups to create awareness on the advantages of NEM blockchain and as an insider to our beloved readers, we will probably organize a hackathon with NEM too. Last but not least, we can have more exciting news from NEM regarding Turkish blockchain ecosystem, which we can’t tell you right now.

We would like to thank all our attendees, NEM representatives Dona and Paul, who honored us with their presence in Istanbul and Kolektif House for hosting us.

Here are a few more photos from NEM Istanbul Meetup #1