Turkish Dragon Baybars Altuntas

EBAN Congress 2015 – Baybars Altuntas of Turkey has been awarded second time as Europe’s best individual in globally engaging the early stage investment market within the entrepreneurial ecosystem at a gathering of more than 200 high net worth individuals from across Europe and the US in Eindhoven this week.

Baybars Altuntas was one of the 150 entrepreneurs invited by President Obama for the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship in 2010. Altuntas was the only entrepreneur given by personal audience by President Obama before the summit at the White House.He is a very succesful entrepreneur and angel investor who set-up his 50 million dollar valued company, Deulcom International, from scratch while he was a university student. He is also one of the dragons of the Dragons’ Den, a worldwide known TV show on entrepreneurship. His best-seller book  ‘Off the Bus! Into a Supercar’ has been translated into many languages. He is an idol of university students willing to be succesful entrepreneurs in the future.

Baybars Altuntas – President TBAA – Business Angels Association – Turkey

Recently, we sat down with the Turkish Dragon for his take on angel investing, the startup ecosystem and crowdfunding. He was recognized  by EBAN – The European Trade Association of Business Angels – as 2013’s Best Individual in Europe Globally Engaging with Entrepreneurial Ecosystem.

Turkish Dragon Baybars Altuntas

Baybars Altuntas is a global entrepreneur, best-selling author, angel investor, columnist, star of the Turkish version of the television show Dragons’ Den, President of the Business Angels Association of Turkey, President of Deulcom International, Vice President of the European Trade Association for Business Angels, Seed Funds, and other Early Stage Market Players (EBAN), and the World Entrepreneurship Forum’s Ambassador to Turkey & the Balkan countries. He was recognized again by EBAN in 2014 as the Best Individual in Europe Globally Engaging with Entrepreneurial Ecosystem.

Mr. Altuntas is also the founder of Deulcom lnternational, the first vocational training school of Turkey and named by the Economist – Turkey as one of the top 100 franchise companies of Turkey. Deulcom lnternational became one of the fastest growing trademarks in Turkey and was recognized in 1997 by Eurowards as the third-fastest growing brand in Turkey only five years after he had founded the company. Founder of UFRAD – Turkish Franchise Association. Introduced lATA Educational System to Turkey. Elected as the Best Businessman – 2010. Was one of the 150 entrepreneurs invited by US President Barack Obama to the White House Presidential Summit in Washington DC. He was the only participant who was given a personal audience by the US President before his summit. After the US President’s speech, CNN International interviewed Baybars Altuntas live at its Washington studios the only delegate interviewed.

One of the dragons of Dragons’ Den – Turkey, entrepreneurship TV show. His book ‘My way to Dragons’ Den’ has still been the best-seller in Turkey. His company Links Angel BAN is acting as a business angel platform supporting start-up businesses in Turkey. President of TBAA – Business Angels Association of Turkey. Board member of EBAN – The European Trade Association for Business Angels, Seed Funds, and Early Stage Market Players. Board member of WBAA – World Business Angels Association.

How did you get into angel investing?

I was invited to become involved Dragon’s Den (European version of Shark’s Tank). Through  that process I realized I was an Angel investor.  As a result of being on the show, I became a celebrity in Turkey and the go to guy for Angel investing.  I receive 50 or more business plans a day.  To handle the opportunities, I created Links Angel BAN with funding from 30 Turkish investors.  Our primary investment focus is IT and mobile.  I am now president of TBAA – Business Angels Association of Turkey and Vice President of EBAN. I am also the Coordinator of European Business Angels Week.

Turkey start up scene

Turkey passed a law recognizing accredited angels and providing tax credits and incentives.  This created about 250 accredited angels and 10 new angel networks.  To learn more – The Opportunities Behind Angel Investments in Turkey.

Most of the startup activity is centered around IT, Mobile and eCommerce.

Of course, we have not begun to see any significant exits. In Turkey, we have created liquidating events up to 1 million USD with Istanbul Stock Exchange Market.  This is result of the work done by EBAN in creating the Startup Investors’ Manifesto (in particular the 4th section) and will be introduced on December 15th at the 1st European Business Angels Investment Forum in Istanbul.

What is Crowds’ Den?

Crowds’ Den is a live event to support startups. I created this idea and World Entrepreneurship Forum took this into their upcoming agenda in Lyon. It is an event where startups will be funded online by crowdfunding technique.

I am excited that we will be announcing Crowds Den at the World Entrepreneur Forum –  Entrepreneurship 3.0: Unlimited Opportunities.  The Forum’s 7th edition will take place in Lyon, France, on October 19th-22nd, 2014 and will revolve around Entrepreneurship 3.0: Unlimited Opportunities.  I am not just the creator of the idea and format but also I have been one of the panelists of the event.

What do you think of Crowdfunding for early stage capital?

We all know that the first thing angels want to see is a demo/product.  Producing the demo has a cost, and not all entrepreneurs have the finances to fund the demo.  I believe crowdfunding will fill this gap providing up to 25K to help businesses through the initial development stage.

What do you wish you knew when you started as an Angel.

In the beginning, I tried to understand if the business model and plan were compelling.  But it turns out that was really was all about the entrepreneur.  Angels invest in the founder’s ability to attract a team that can execute the business model.

What do you look for in a startup?

When I meet a new company, I want to see the demo first. If there is no demo, then you better be able convince me you have a viable business model.  The business model is more important than the business plan. Anyone can write a plan, but we really want to know how we are going to make money.

What is the worst thing someone can do when they are pitching you?

Entrepreneurs forget angels are human beings.  They try to tell us our job. They try to dominate the conversation, correct assumptions and such.  This shows me they are not open to suggestions and we won’t be able to work together to create value.

Do you only invest in Turkey?

Cross border investing is challenging, We can’t do it alone, so we participate with local business angel networks and syndications.

To learn more –

His blog for global angel investors: http://www.baybarsaltuntasnotes.com

His blog for Turkish entrepreneurs: http://www.baybarsaltuntastips.com

Turkish Dragon Baybars Altuntas

Our interview with Baybars Altuntas – President TBAA – Business Angels Association – Turkey & Vice President of EBAN is part of an ongoing series by Angelsbootcamp focusing on Angel investment and the Start Up ecosystem.  Angelsbootcamp is a Startupbootcamp initiative to train Angels across Europe and beyond…


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