May'17, Investments, Regulations, MENA Exits?, Balkans!, fintec,  

It's May. In addition to shedding the winter slumber (and pounds - no more baklava), we're shedding old mindsets. Souq and Careem have helped. The headline deals that both companies have made earlier this year are injecting tremendous excitement into the MENA startup ecosystem. We're also keeping our eyes on all things fintech, which continues to be a rapidly changing landscape. As we start to countdown to our timeout on the beach, we're ever more eager to see what the summer holds for MENA - and the Balkans, which we take a look at this month.

You're investing where?

Yeah, we know. Say you're based in Turkey and people wince. So when Amadeus, a UK-based investment firm, backed iyzico's Series C round, it was something. Here is what Jason Pinto, a partner at Amadeus, had to say about Turkey:


"80 million Turks, about the same population as Germany, live in a landmass approximately twice its size. It has the world's 18th largest GDP, just behind Canada and ahead of Australia. Its large population though means it ranks 85th on the per capital GDP scale but still ahead of Brazil and Mexico - other emerging markets investors fabourites. A sizable portion of the Turkish public is middle class with easy access to the latest media and gadgets.


Standing out from its peers, Turkey has a sophisticated banking sector with the highest payment card penetration rate in Europe coming close to those of advanced nations like the US and Japan. Add to this its high internet penetration, available to 60% of the population and growing faster than anywhere else in Europe, and you have a great market for new consumer services."


Bad news is bad news. But perspective is everything.

Amazon: Gaming the future of money


Visa, Mastercard, or American Express? Get ready to add Amazon Cash. If you shop with the world's largest online retailer (we'd really love to meet you if you don't), you can now add cash to your account and shop with a bar code! Voila!


Big deal? It is. We've known that fintech is the future. Amazon Cash proves that it's still up for grabs. How we're paying for things will change over the next decade. Forget cashless society (speaking of, SWISH! in Sweden), credit cards won't be the same. And that will have big implications for consumers, retailers, and, most importantly, startups in the MENA region. Credit card penetration in Turkey alone is 59 percent. (Read the above post)

Mergers, Aquisitions, Investments


Czech/UK predictive analytics startup Runecast raised a 1.6 million seed round.


UAE based Fetchr aquired Bahrain's KRT, a courier service for an undisclosed amount. This caught our eye because logistics is the biggest barrier outside the West. He or she who can unlock that, unlocks the treasure.


Move Guides snapped up Estonia's Teleport, a platform that looks at the best places to live and work. Entertainment is everything., a Ukranian-UK founded startup specializing in event concierge, secured £100,00 min funding. What we said above.

Insider Digital Retail Day

At Insider Digital Retail Day, industry experts from PwC, Yves Tocher, AmRest, W.KRUK and iProspect discussed how to address the challenges of increasing customer aquisistion costs and the need to improve marketing efficiency using cross platform personalization conversion rate optimization, and other initiatives.

Startups Blood and Honey


Take the word Balkan in Turkish apart and it translates into "honey blood." We're looking to see if the Ottomans had anything to do with that (we'll keep you posted). In the meantime, we're focused on the huge potential in the region. As Techcrunch reports, the Balkans have low labor costs and high talent (Thanks Tilo!). John Biggs is impressed with the pitches he heard on a visit to Skopje, Macedonia, but notes that these pitches will only get as far as the seed funds that back them. He's cynical that places like Madedonia can make that happen. We're more bullish. An engineer can do more in the Balkans than in Palo Alto. (And have Kaymak while the're at it.)


Making it rain in the Middle East: Souq and Careem

Souq and Careem are making it rain for the Middle East startup ecosystem. Amazon's reported acquisition of online retailer for $650 million and Careem's valuation at $1 billion has a venture capitalists slap happy.


Most investors in both companies are from the region - and they're eyeing the exit sign. Danny Garha, managing parner of Beco Capital expects "a significant exit or two on the horizaon in the next 12 to 24 months."


With more money in their hands now, they're more likely to reinvest in other startups. And that is how virtous cycles are born. #FTW

Protecting the Olympics and more: Turks

Greeks founded the Olympic Games. We love that a Turkish cyber security firm provides digital security to it. Atos, a global firm talked about extending its services to public infrastructure in Turkey. If connection is the big thing in the first half of 21st century, protection and privacy will be bigger as we move forward.


Deep Dive:

Warning to Digital Entreprenuers:

                       Regulated Industries can bite....

by Fevzi M. TOKSOY, PhD EU Law, Partner at ACTECON


The suspension of’s services in Turkey has been seen as an attack on individuals’ online freedom and digital entrepreneurship as a whole. Such claims seem to be inaccurate because undertakings, irrespective of their legal form, location and mode of operation (digital/ ‘traditional’), are equally subject to, among others, (i) competition law; (ii) the respective regulatory framework, and (iii) rules on (un)fair competition. If an undertaking is found to be in violation of any of these, then naturally respective measures shall be taken by the state to deal with the consequences of the infringement. The case of should be seen from this perspective. Access to the website has been restricted temporarily by the Turkish court on the grounds of unfair competition, and technically, the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) has implemented the order of the court. At the same time, these decisions are part of an increasing pattern whereby conflicts between regulated business and digital networking platforms in many different industries are playing out in the legal and regulatory arenas. is a typical example. Others include Uber, Airbnb, and PayPal. Let’s examine the situation......


Continue reading here.


After Hours

Summer is around the corner. So, we're shedding the winter slumber and getting ready for shorts, flip flops, and the beach.

Hey, It's May

Get onto 212's 2017 Wellness Project:


Rabbit Food: Summer Salads. Yummmmmayyy!


Get Fit: The only summer work out you need? Maybe still we'll give you a few more.

Best full-body summer work out.

Brain Food:


We know you want to get rid of your love handles. Trust us when we say feed your brain. There's nothing Sexier than the mind.


10 Books inspired by the worlds top startup investors

Get down & Listen

People, Calvin Harris and Frank Ocean. Try not to groove to their new hit: Slide. We dare you.

Up coming events

Get your mentoring on at ITU MAGNET! We're coming at you Maslak.


It always seems impossible until its done.” ― Nelson Mandela


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