Ankur Garg and Baybars Altuntas in a Fireside Chat at the World Startup Expo

baybars ankur dinesh garg world startup expo

Baybars was invited as a guest speaker on the recently concluded WORLD STARTUP EXPO 2016, Bengaluru. We (Comezzo) were the official content marketing partner for the expo, and Ankur Dinesh Garg (an IIT Bombay alumni, Artificial Intelligence evangelist, founder of Hotify & chief advisor at Comezzo) had an interesting fireside chat with Baybars on matters related to entrepreneurship, funding, startups, innovation and many other aspects related to new age business ideas in India and around the world.

Baybars Altuntaş is a Turkish entrepreneur, angel investor, speaker and author based in Istanbul. He is a founder of Deulcom International, a vocational training school in Turkey in 1992 and currently serves as the president of the executive committee of the company. He has been a Dragon on Dragons’ Den in Turkey, an adaptation of the popular Shark Tank TV program. He is currently a jury member on the new Turkish entrepreneurship program Do You Have a Business Idea?

Below are highlights of the conversation between Baybars and Ankur for your delectation.

Ankur: What makes a successful startup, and what is the main challenge for modern day entrepreneurs according to you?

Baybars: Today’s main challenge to entrepreneurs is access to finance. There are tons of business ideas which are presented to Angels, VCs, funds etc, that it has become extremely competitive to raise funds for startups. And recent devaluations of possible unicorns in India have not helped matters. However, if an entrepreneur has a good business idea, a robust business model, and a right business mind, then success should automatically follow. If entrepreneurs fail to define and stick to a good exit strategy, they can be described as an SME. Only those entrepreneurs with good exit strategies can become robust startups. Investors have exit strategies. Why shouldn’t entrepreneurs?

Ankur: What are present day entrepreneurship barriers? Who’s better, born entrepreneurs vs learned entrepreneurs?

Baybars: There are certainly two kinds of entrepreneurs, ones those who are born with natural tendencies to ideate and succeed in business, and also those, who imbibe the necessary skillsets to build robust business and succeed. The technicalities of identity and conducting business can be learnt. The horse is as important as the jockey for guaranteed success.

Ankur: In terms of investors, what is the difference, according to you, between Angel investors and VCs?

Baybars: Investors with entrepreneurial background are Angel Investors, those who invest in spreadsheets are VCs. Remember, Angel Investors invest in dreams and ideas not excel sheets.

Ankur: How can startups compete in tough markets consisting of money powered competitors?

Baybars: Startups do face tough competition, especially in some market segments, they end up fighting with big names. In my personal experience, startups need not be intimidated with big corporations, as most of them find collaborating with innovative startups to enhance their product portfolio rather than build cast innovation from scratch (which takes a lot of time and money). I would say that corporate ventures are key to drive startup innovation. Google, Coca-Cola, HP corporate ventures are employing Intra-preneurs, at the same time they are collaborating with new age lean startups.

Partnering with Corp ventures, instead of creating innovation within corporations makes a lot of sense in a fast changing world where there is less time to please consumers. Corporations  should/can/are investing in innovative startups and help them work along in-house R&Ds and inventors.

Ankur: What is your definition of an entrepreneur, and what are the key resources required to build, scale and succeed?

Baybars: I believe that resources (for entrepreneurs) are available everywhere and freely. I wish that they should align the focus to hear and inculcate only what is relevant. Because, there are a lot of people advising a lot of things to a lot of entrepreneurs. Too much of anything is too bad, and it derails focus. I want new age entrepreneurs to smell the money, but see the idea, business with the eyes.


Ankur: Since true innovation is derived from knowledge, do you think blatant pursual of knowledge at the cost of money will work in the entrepreneurial world?

Baybars: Being an entrepreneur means being open to knowledge as well as the hunger to succeed. This drives the entrepreneur spirit. I think not everyone needs to become an entrepreneur. People who seek pure innovation for innovation’s sake, they may contribute to the world more as inventors and innovators than by being entrepreneurs.

Ankur: Isn’t true innovation customer centric? And why do many businesses fail to do this?

Baybars: Every idea, product or service needs to be innovated. Else businesses will fail. Lot of startups build products and services with such focus and passion that they fail to involve consumer right from the product development stage. There have been many examples of startups who create a product and then define their consumer segment. This is why most startups fail. Innovation, should and must begin with the consumer.

Ankur: How to develop a country to fuel the startup and entrepreneurial ecosystem?

Baybars: There are about 180 countries who are seeking answers to this question. It is the mindset of governments to include all players who can participate and boost the startup economy itself. Countries who have understood this, have moved ahead very quickly. For example, Turkey has the highest tax incentives for startup investments. He also says that it is imperative to empower Angel investors, which will eventually prod VCs to consider Angel funded startups.

Ankur: How safe is it to raise funds through public ventures (from the Government startup funds)?

Baybars: I think that the source of public money to fund ventures is dangerous. Because this money will dry up very soon. Raise money through angel investors use them as mentors, experience, to build develop the startup. This helps to build a good track record to raise funds in the future.


Ankur: We know that you were invited by President Obama to speak about entrepreneurship in the US in 2010. When compared to what you saw in President Obama, what’s your take on President elect Donald Trump?

Baybars: When I met President Obama, it was for a discussion with many other leaders about entrepreneurship in the US as well as around the world. The President wanted to build a nurturing ecosystem to help Americans build success businesses and eventually employ American youth to do so. That’s when the Global entrepreneurship summit was born, it was held in the US, then in Turkey, and will be in India soon.

Now, if this doesn’t happen in India, then we can understand the approach of President-Elect Donald Trump. Obama supports entrepreneurs. But he himself isn’t an entrepreneur. However, Trump is an entrepreneur, but we will see what decisions he takes.

Ankur: On a final note, what is your advice to Indian entrepreneurs and founders?

Baybars: Just three things, STARTUP, SCALE UP, EXIT! However, the learnings and suggestions don’t stop here, Baybars goes on to add a valuable point about VCs in India, “VCs are your (entrepreneur) customers”.

The World Startup Expo is an initiative by Cocoon Ventures:


and Organized by Trescon Global:


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