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EU Prize for Women Innovators 2019: Apply Now!

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We have great women who have built successful startups in Turkey and also in the world. But we want it to be more, we want women create greater startups so the statistics like “only 17% of entrepreneurs are women in the world” can change. Accelerators and corporates actually should be the main supporters of women entrepreneurs and every woman who is trying to start a startup. So women entrepreneurs can succeed more and empower other women and girls to become game changers, innovators, entrepreneurs…

Thanks to EU, they have a funding program for women innovators, entrepreneurs and they do it every year. Women who have found their own enterprises and brought innovation to market can apply to EU Prize. You also should be living one of the EU countries or countries associated to Horizon 2020.

4 women entrepreneurs will be rewarded in total. The prize is cash: 3 prizes of €100,000 for each winner and Rising Innovator prize (35 or younger) is €50,000. There is an application guide on the website. You should check it out because it will be helpful when applying.

Last date for application is January 16th. Do not miss!

For further information and to apply: https://ec.europa.eu/info/research-and-innovation/funding/funding-opportunities/prizes/eu-prize-women-innovators_en#latest

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.

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.

6 Shittiest Piece of Advice about Running Your Startup

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If you watched “The Social Network” movie, you probably remember the scene where Sean Parker tells Mark Zuckerberg to get a business card saying “I’m CEO, bitch!”. I’m not sure if this scene is pure fiction or taken from a real-life situation, but I think that’s a pure shitty advice. In a theatrical point of view, it might sound cool: but would you really like to hand out a business card saying “I’m CEO, bitch!” to a corporate CEO that you can do business with?

Almost everyone loves to be an influencer in their field of study. It feels good to give advice to “young padawans” and enlighten them with your expertise. So, it is an important thing that entrepreneurs only follow good pieces of advice. (Yeap, I’m looking directly at you Senator. Because of you, Anakin “pivoted” and… You know the rest).

As a blockchain enthusiast, the most important thing that I learned in blockchain is “DYOR”, which stands for “Do Your Own Research”. We can’t say that all of those pieces of advice are completely wrong, but it depends on your situation. Even if some of them might make you feel like “Not that bad”, they are generic, to say the least. Here are a few examples of shitty advice that you can get;

Take a leap of faith and quit your day job for your startup!

No! Don’t! You need a long checklist to complete before you quit your job and follow your dreams. Did you research about your competitors? Do you have a solid business plan? Do you have enough funding to survive? Do you have enough resources? Can you trust your team in mid-term? Do you have the mental strength to embrace upcoming psychological difficulties? And many many more questions need an answer before you take that “leap of faith”.

There are great stories on the internet that you can find easily with a Google search. What you see there are probably like 1% of people who quit their jobs for their new startup. And all people in that 1% have done it after they completed the checklist that I mentioned

Your idea must be out-of-this-world!

There is a famous phrase that you have probably heard: Ideas are worthless, execution is everything. It’s a bold statement but think about it this way: Thinking of climbing Everest is an idea, and climbing Everest is execution.

While Charles H. Duell was the Commissioner of US patent office in 1899, he said: “Everything that can be invented has been invented”. I’m not gonna say something similar, yet ideas nowadays are dime a dozen. Neither Google was the first search engine ever, nor Facebook was the first social media service ever. It was about how they execute the idea. Of course, there were loads of innovation and great ideas involved in the process, but the main idea was nothing original.

A great idea might be your key to success, but certainly not without great execution.

Be passionate about your idea! Don’t give up so easily!

Another problem about ideas is that some entrepreneurs fall in love with their ideas. When that happens, entrepreneurs lose their ability to think logically. They become incapable of critically asking the fundamental questions.

You need to be passionate about your business and how to make it work. But falling in love with your idea hampers your progress. Rather than trying to improve your product, based on your feedback, entrepreneurs might try to shape their customers to like their idea.

Learn > Build > Measure (Repeat)

Don’t rely on anyone! If you want it done right, do it yourself!

It’s a very common approach among entrepreneurs, that they try to handle every bit of detail by themselves. Thanks to Elon Musk, who spent thousands of hours studying (literally) rocket science before founding SpaceX, entrepreneurs might think that knowing everything down to the detail is feasible. It’s not. That’s why most of your potential investors will look for “TEAM” page in your pitch deck. You will need to delegate crucial aspects of your business to your team members.

Learn to delegate tasks to your team members according to their expertise. Your time is so valuable, so let them free up some time for you while (probably) completing tasks better than you can imagine.

And another thing, do not put your teammates under a microscope. Let them do, what they do best. Quit trying to micromanage.

Offer the lowest price possible!

For a new startup, it is always attractive to enter the market with lowest prices possible. By undercutting the competitors’ prices, it feels like you can get more customers onboard easily. Yet, it is a dangerous approach. Your customers may think that your product is cheap because it is inferior (and this is a psychological fact).

Focus on determining a feasible pricing strategy based on your product and your profit margin. Being sustainable is much more important than being cheap and getting lots of customers.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

That’s an approach that 80-year-old corporate giants may find useful. They have a model that keeps them afloat for decades. But, come on, you are a startup. The first keyword that people think about startups must be innovation, it must make you think about something new, something disruptive.

As a startup, you should always focus to improve in every aspect of your business that you can. You need to take risks, but (of course) calculate the possible outcomes first.

Again: Learn > Build > Measure (Repeat)

Hackquarters attended GITEX Future Stars ’18 in Dubai

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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.

FINAL CALL: You can Apply for Pioneers program until 10th of October

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We have extended our final application date to 10th of October. You can find application link at the end of the article.

If you’re hearing about Hackquarters Pioneers for the first time; let me explain it briefly. Hackquarters Pioneers is a community which helps young entrepreneurs to build the future they want by learning, experiencing and creating with startups. So till today, we made 40+ events at 14 different locations and we still keep doing it. Our main purpose for creating different types of events at several cities in Turkey is spreading entrepreneurship to very brilliant youngsters. So now, we add new ones to the schedule and I would like to share them with you.

Hacker Meetups

Lately, we started something new for us: Hacker Meetups. First one was at Bahcesehir University. And now we make it as a meetup series. There is going to be 8 meetups in İstanbul and once in other cities with different topics explaining what is product management cycle from hackers view. CTOs and mostly some cool software engineers will be our speakers during these events. All hackers are invited, of course.

Partnerships with Brands

New partnerships are coming and they are all about challenges, hackathons, and ideathons. Google is one of them, we firstly start Build Actions for Your Community series for Google Home & Assistant in İzmir on 20th of October. Next station will be in İstanbul during DevFest at Uniq İstanbul. Please follow Hackquarters Eventbrite account for registration.

Girl Entrepreneurship

Did you know that only 25% of enterprises owned by women in Turkey? Between all those events, this is the most important one for me to work on. Panels with our dearest women entrepreneurs from different backgrounds have been inspiring. Let’s encourage our powerful, intelligent girls to be more involved in the entrepreneurship ecosystem and to create great startups. If you are one of the women entrepreneurs who want to inspire young women, please message me via [email protected]

Online Meetups & Activities

Online meetups are welcomed! We’ll be doing an online meetup with a rockstar entrepreneur very soon. The same concept with offline Pioneers Meetups and also other cool topics will be on the agenda.

Online is cool. That’s why we changed something about our conferences and we recorded online courses with various topics. We mostly will be uploading conferences to our youtube channel and if you ask, we’ll increase that number. For conferences as online; I know some of you couldn’t able to attend our events because there wasn’t one at your city or dates didn’t fit your schedule. Now you don’t have one of these problems because we turned it online.

Our Slack channel is also public. You can join from this link. Omegas are invited too! You can approach them via Slack, ask questions and find proper opportunities for yourself.

We are not a totally closed community to the public, we share anything that can help you to understand entrepreneurship better. And if you want to be involved in the organization process of other activities in your school, you can just contact me via [email protected]

So you are always welcomed to attend and organize any Hackquarters Pioneers events or projects in your city. You can also apply for being a Pioneer. That’s how you can benefit from every opportunity Pioneers presents to you.

We now extend our applications till 10th of October. So hurry up and apply for being a Pioneer!

Take Off Istanbul Startup Summit: Great Startups and Great Panels

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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.

Sonic boom, drones, rockets…

The new tower at the new airport, which symbolizes a tulip.

Teknofest was a great event by itself, as there were loads of activities such as rocket competitions, drone races, hackathons, great shows by world-famous Turkish Air Force and even a race between fastest vehicles in the world: F-16 fighter jet, a passenger jet, sports cars, F1 racing car and a racing motorcycle driven by world-champion Turkish driver and now a member of parliament, Kenan Sofuoğlu, who eventually win the race.

In 4 days of Teknofest, hundreds of thousands of people visited the new airport. As for Take Off Istanbul, that was a great opportunity to let people know about the startup ecosystem, as most of the visiting public were students from various age groups.

Landings before “Take Off”

Ironically, rather than waiting for “Take Off” we were expecting landings the night before. As you can guess, organizing a startup event may look like it’s all about startups, investor meetings, pitches, presentations and so on, we were also trying to handle hotel transfers, startups landing at different airports and different landing times throughout the day. We did our best to communicate with all startups to get them to their hotels comfortably.

Even if all of Hackquarters stayed awake almost all night, our day started around 5 am on the first day of Take Off Istanbul Startup Summit. We went to the hotel that our international guests were staying, Grand Cevahir Şişli, and made sure that all startups are in the shuttle buses early in the day. And some members of Hackquarters were in the new airport during that time to make sure that everything is working in 3 Take Off stages.

Starting with Great Startups and Great Panels

As I mentioned before, we handpicked 200 startups from well over 2000 applications from more than 80 different countries. Most of the startups we invited to the event has surprised us in a positive way, as there were great presentations. Our time limit was 5 minutes per startup, and our startups delivered great information in that short period. We had three different stages on the first day for Energy & Environmental, Logistics & Space & Defence and Health & Wellness. 40 startups presented in each category and after the lunch break, we had 3 panels for each relative industry with participation from worldwide professionals. (You can always find more info about our panelists and keynote speakers on our official Take Off Istanbul Startup Summit website.)

We also found some time to talk to our participants during lunch break and after presentations while we were waiting for shuttle buses to the hotel. That’s when we felt like we did a great job gathering a lot of people from different countries and various verticals in the same place.

More Panels, More Startups

While we had 3 stages on day 1, we planned as 2 stages for the remaining two verticals and 1 stage for Seedstars Istanbul, which is a part of Seedstars World.

Just like the first day, our participating startups presented their businesses to our jury in Education and Agriculture & Food stages. Each startup had 5 minutes for their pitch. We had 2 great panels with valuable professionals from relative area sharing their ideas and discussing the future of each related industry.

In our third stage for day 2, Seedstars Istanbul participants pitched their startups for a chance to attend Seedstars World and many more great awards. Stroma Vision, Limantepe Tech – ImageRAD and Piri Guide were the winners of Seedstars Istanbul 2018. You can find more about participating startups and winners in Seedstars Istanbul website.

Take Off takes over main stage

Day 3 of Take Off Istanbul Summit was a joy for all of us. There was only one main stage for Take Off Istanbul Startup Summit, which has a bigger capacity then our previous stages. And that was the point: we were expecting attendance from curious enthusiasts who want to listen to great keynote speeches, panels that include government officials, directors from leading companies of the region, VCs, directors of accelerators and more.

We started the day with an inspiring speech from Selçuk Bayraktar, CTO of Baykar and Head of Board of Trustees of Turkey Technology Team. Then our panel on “The Role of Governments and International Organizations in Empowering Youth Entrepreneurship towards Sustainable Growth” started with attendance from valuable professionals such as Arda Ermut (President of Investment Support and Promotion Agency of Turkey) and H.E. Amb. Elshad Iskandarov (President of Islamic Conference Youth Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation).

… when we hear the president is coming to Take Off Istanbul stage.

Near the lunch break, we heard that President of the Republic of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, will present awards to the winners of Take Off Istanbul Startup Summit, himself (Later we learned that those were just rumours).  After the lunch break break, the main stage of Take Off Istanbul was at full speed with wonderful keynote speeches by Kamran Elahian and Amr Awadallah. Unfortunately, due to our delayed programme, keynote speech of our valuable friend, Darius Moeini was canceled.

After keynote speeches, “Corporate Companies Inspiring Innovation” panel has started with the attendance of Kaan Terzioğlu (CEO of Turkcell) and Paul Doany (CEO of Turk Telekom). Again, due to our strict schedule, we merged 2 panels of “Venture Capitalists Predicting the Future” and “Startup Accelerators Disrupting Success” into one big panel.

After we completed our program, it was time to introduce winners of Take Off Istanbul Startup Summit to the audience. Our winners (which we will tell more about each in another blog post) got announced by Haluk Bayraktar (CEO of Baykar, Member of Board of Trustees of Turkey Technology Team), Selçuk Bayraktar (CTO of Baykar and Head of Board of Trustees of Turkey Technology Team) and M. Fatih Kacır (Deputy Minister of Industry and Technology, Republic of Turkey).

Geographically a bridge between Europe, Asia and Africa? Much more than that.

Some of our participants were pretty surprised to find that many startups gathered in Istanbul for a global startup event as currently, Istanbul is just a “promising” startup country. Recently there were a few huge (in Turkish standards) investments and exits happened in Turkish startup scene, but that was just the tip of the iceberg.

As Hackquarters, we aim to make Istanbul a hub for not only EMEA startup scene but also global startup scene as well. And we are not doing this just for the love of our country. Turkey is currently a land of opportunities where startup related expenses are almost free, compared to cities in our region. There is a huge room for growth in Istanbul with startup awareness increasing among students, corporations and public as well.

With Take Off Startup Summit, we were addressing the “Take Off” of startups involving in our event, but also we hope that this will be a “Take Off” for Turkish startup scene in general as well. With great opportunities such as the ones we mentioned before and government incentives, a lot of international startups are opening their Istanbul offices. And we are hoping to lure more and more startups to Istanbul.

Thank You! And we mean it!

We would like to thank every startup, speaker, panelist, investor, VC, corporate professional and people within startup scene who did generously devoted their precious time to Take Off Istanbul Startup Summit and honored us with their presence in Istanbul. We did our best to provide a great experience in Istanbul with valuable help from our friends here at Hackquarters, Turkey Technology Team and Invest in Turkey.

We will share winners of each category in separate posts. Keep following Hackquarters on our social media channels!

See you again next year!

5 Must-Have Applications and Services For Startups

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Start-ups and small businesses often maintain a group of less than 10 people to manage the entire business. This is when these 5 applications come in handy. If you’re interested in finding out how you can be effective at what you do and spend less time on things that don’t bring value to you or your business, then read on because this article is for you.

Trello

Trello is an application that is available for free. It can be accessed through the web or your Android or iPhone. Trello lets you keep tasks and projects organized. If you’re handling a small group of people, Trello helps you assign tasks and monitor deadlines. You can attach files, add a checklist and view all project developments at a glance. Since it is accessible via phone, it helps you stay updated regardless of where you are. Any updates can also be shared in real time. Say goodbye to unnecessary progress related meetings that take up most of your time.

Slack

Slack is an application that lets you chat and send private or direct messages. It’s also available for free, can be used from a web browser or from your Android or iPhone. If you’re working on different projects, you can easily create channels and send/receive chats simultaneously throughout the day. What’s even better is that it integrates with applications you might already use such as Google Drive and Trello. Everything is searchable in Slack which makes communication a lot easier.

HelloSign

When you manage a business, you’ll be surprised with the number of documents you will need to sign on throughout the week. Imagine loads of paperwork filing on top of your desk and the time it’ll take to go through each document to sign, scan and then send back to the sender. HelloSign helps you out by letting you create an electronic signature. There’s no need to download and print any files, no need to leave Gmail, and take less than 30 seconds to complete.

Zapier

Zapier is all about automation. Avoid having to do the same things time and time again. Zapier connects with apps that you normally use and allows you to create triggers that would initiate the start of a workflow. With just a few clicks, you can create workflows that happen automatically once set up. It links your systems together, removes redundancy and drives efficiency in your everyday tasks.

Google Drive

Did you just finish a report you’ve worked on for 3 hours but then clicked on exit without saving the document? It happens to almost everyone. You won’t have to worry about a thing when you have Google Drive in place. Google Drive lets you work with spreadsheets, slides or documents. It saves files in real time so you don’t need to worry if you’ve accidentally closed a file without saving. Everything is accessible from a cloud service so never worry about forgetting where you’ve saved files again.

Running a business is not a walk in the park. Make use of your time wisely and take advantage of tools such as these 5 applications to make your life easier. Work smart and take control.

Binance Labs Incubation Program is now accepting blockchain startups

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We love startups, as you are well aware. We also love blockchain. So when these two come together, we get excited. Binance Labs Incubation Program is doing just that.

Our favorite exchange, Binance, has launched a new program for blockchain startups called “Binance Labs Incubation Program”.Binance Labs team currently focuses on Public Blockchains, Decentralized Exchanges(DEX), Wallets & Payment, Stable Digital Currencies, ATS/Security Token Platforms and dApps.

Binance will also fund accepted startups with 500k USD (for 10% equity). You can find more info on their official post below, and you can visit their dedicated website at labs.binance.com.

Fellow Binancians,

Labs team is very happy to introduce our new incubation program to support top early-stage teams with our best resources to help them jump start their best ideas. In short, Binance Labs Incubation Program is a 10-Week On-Site program designed to help top early-stage teams to deliver a product/service with a Product/Market fit.

We Provide:

  • Seed Investment: We provide $500K Seed Funding (10% Equity). This allows startups to bootstrap as soon as possible.
  • Mentorship: We have best mentors from both crypto and startup scenes who will support startups’ journey.
  • Network: We help startups grow their network with notable founders coming every week, and of course the batch network will become the biggest assets.
  • Support Services: We provide the best resources so startups can focus on building products/services.
  • We have a new website, where you can find the application link and referral link. Please make some good referrals to the Labs team. Remember to ask the team referred by you to leave your name in the application form.

Website: https://www.binancelabs.co
Application Link: https://goo.gl/forms/1GEkEK32WoXxstlD3
Referral Link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeUSCLzOxiaK9KEOCaAO5-Esxle_ZemMPwCrIZqOIGPQLWbBw/viewform?usp=send_form

Thanks for your support!

Binance Team

SmartBIGG: Chance to get 150.000 TL non-refundable grant support for technology-focused business ideas

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As Hackquarters we don’t just support startups in every way we can, but we also try to make them aware of every possible opportunity to get funding for their startups or ideas. Hasan Kalyoncu University (KHU) has a new entrepreneurship program called SmartBIGG, which is supported by TUBITAK (The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey).

About SmartBIGG (from official website)

By applying to the SmartBİGG Program you can make actual your technology-focused business idea.

Hasan Kalyoncu University (HKU), one the most entrepreneurial and innovative universities of our country, is the official implementing agency of the “1512 Techno-Entrepreneurship Capital Support Program” implemented by TÜBİTAK. The Program offers a donation of 150.000 TL at the first step to eligible applicants for the transfer of technology-focused enterprise.

You can follow all the processes, applicants can be collected and evaluated, business ideas can be converted into a business plan, pre-incubation and acceleration services are offered to entrepreneurs etc. through the mobile application. After the training about creating a business model, preparing a business plan, intellectual industrial property rights, incorporation, business law etc. and the mentoring activities, entrepreneurs will be able to get a chance to establish a company by this grant.

If you have a technological business idea in these areas;

  • Intelligent Transportation,
  • Energy and Clean Technologies,
  • Advanced Manufacturing and Industry 4.0,
  • Communication and Numerical Transformation,
  • Health and Good Life,
  • Sustainable Agriculture and Nutrition

Apply immediately and transform your idea into a product, your dream into reality…

You can click here to apply for SmartBIGG or visit SmartBIGG website for more detailed info. Also, you can download the Android app for SmartBIGG here.