Enis Hulli, Associate Partner of 500 Startups Istanbul, on Providing Funding for Startups


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Enis Hulli is on a mission to provide funding for startups. His company, 500 Startups Istanbul is looking for the best possible companies to invest money in so that those companies can achieve success while providing premium returns. However, landing an investment deal with 500 Startups Istanbul is far from easy. Listen to this episode of Unconventional Genius to hear how Enis Hulli is leading 500 Startups to make a difference in the lives of entrepreneurs around the world.

The global impact of entrepreneurship

Silicon Valley may be geographically located in the U.S., but it’s a truly international community. A study released by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), a non-partisan organization which does research on trade and immigration, found that over half of $1 billion of funding for startups are awarded to companies founded by immigrants. Collectively, these companies are worth $168 billion and employ over 33,000 people.

“Entrepreneurship is all about passion and perseverance, and immigrant entrepreneurs are the most hungry for success,” adds Hulli. “That’s why many of the big companies in the U.S. are built by immigrant entrepreneurs. 500 Startups launched microfunds in countries like Turkey, Canada, Japan, and Mexico to find these entrepreneurs and become the bridge connecting them to Silicon Valley.”

The opportunities and challenges of startups outside the U.S.

Enis Hulli says that while Silicon Valley is a hub of business and entrepreneurship, not every startup wants to move to the U.S. In fact, many companies outside of the United States want to provide products and services that can help their developing countries. 500 Startups Istanbul was started to help provide funding for startups like these.

Hulli says, “An entrepreneur should go wherever the biggest market is, whether that is India, China, Africa or Europe,” he says. “That’s why our bigger vision is to help make Istanbul the startup hub of the region. Istanbul is a great place to build a product and conduct angel tests with different segments at scale."

The selective process of providing funding for startups

While 500 Startups Istanbul’s goal is to invest in businesses, not everyone who seeks an investment will get one. It is notoriously difficult to strike a deal with Startups 500. The company’s website boasts that “it’s tougher to get into 500 Startups than Harvard, MIT or Stanford.” Entrepreneurs who meet with Hulli will find he is just as selective. Of 2,500 deals presented by entrepreneurs and executives with early-stage companies, only 25 have struck deals with 500 Startups Istanbul.

“Fundraising is a priority for us, but even more critical is managing that capital and investing it wisely,” says Hulli. “Generating good returns is vital can be a turning point in building our ecosystem and attracting investor appetite."

What is the difference between a Red Ocean and a Blue Ocean company?

There are different kinds of companies seeking funding for a startup company. Enis Hulli says that some entrepreneurs are entering into an established market with lots of competition. Those companies are called Red Ocean. Other companies, called Blue Ocean are trying to create a new market or product category.

Regarding Blue Ocean companies, Hulli says, “Here we are taking a bigger market risk, but these companies can become a category or even market creators, and these are the exciting ones.” Listen as Enis Hulli gives advice for earning investments whether you have a Red or Blue Ocean company during our conversation on Unconventional Genius.

If you are with a consumer technology company planning to launch a new product at CES or are even looking ahead to CES 2019, the Max Borges Agency can help you succeed. To learn more, check out: www.maxborgesagency.com.

Topics Featured In This Episode

  • [2:21] Max introduces guest Enis Hulli, Associate Partner at 500 Startups Istanbul
  • [3:36] How 500 startups is making an impact in developing countries
  • [4:58] Enis explains why many of the most successful American startups were founded by immigrants
  • [8:29] The unique opportunities and challenges for companies outside of the U.S.
  • [13:38] 500 Startups Istanbul vision for the future
  • [15:33] Keys that make a business stand out for 500 Startups Istanbul to invest
  • [17:17] Max explains the difference between Red Ocean and Blue Ocean companies
  • [18:20] How Enis got into venture capitalism

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