Tue. Jul 16th, 2024

Turkey, a vibrant blend of East and West, has become a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures. From tech startups to traditional industries, Turkish entrepreneurs are making waves on the global stage. Their stories are not just about financial success but also about resilience, innovation, and the ability to navigate a complex and dynamic market. This article delves into some of Turkey’s top entrepreneurs and the lessons we can learn from their journeys.

1. Nevzat Aydın: Yemeksepeti

Nevzat Aydın co-founded Yemeksepeti, an online food delivery platform, in 2001. At a time when e-commerce was still in its infancy in Turkey, Aydın’s vision was ahead of its time. The company grew exponentially, and in 2015, Yemeksepeti was acquired by Delivery Hero for $589 million, one of the largest tech acquisitions in Turkish history.


Key Lessons:

  • Innovation in Traditional Markets: Aydın identified a gap in the traditional food delivery market and leveraged technology to create a seamless online platform.
  • Customer Focus: Yemeksepeti’s success was built on understanding and prioritizing customer needs, from user-friendly interfaces to reliable delivery services.
  • Adaptability: Aydın continuously adapted the business model to keep up with technological advancements and changing market dynamics.

2. Hanzade Doğan Boyner: Hepsiburada

Hanzade Doğan Boyner, a member of the influential Doğan family, founded Hepsiburada in 1998. Often referred to as the “Amazon of Turkey,” Hepsiburada is one of the largest e-commerce platforms in the country. Under Boyner’s leadership, the company has expanded its product range and logistics capabilities, setting new standards in the Turkish e-commerce industry.

Key Lessons:

  • Visionary Leadership: Boyner’s foresight in recognizing the potential of e-commerce early on positioned Hepsiburada as a market leader.
  • Investment in Infrastructure: Significant investments in logistics and technology ensured efficient delivery and customer satisfaction.
  • Empowering Women: Boyner has been a vocal advocate for women in business, promoting gender equality and women’s participation in the workforce.

3. Melih Abdulhayoglu: Comodo Group

Melih Abdulhayoglu founded Comodo Group in 1998, focusing on cybersecurity and trust assurance solutions. What started as a small venture in the UK grew into a global leader in digital security, with its headquarters now in the United States. Comodo’s suite of security products is trusted by millions of users worldwide.

Key Lessons:

  • Global Vision: Abdulhayoglu didn’t limit his ambitions to Turkey; he aimed for global markets, understanding the universal need for cybersecurity.
  • Focus on Innovation: Constant innovation and development of cutting-edge security technologies kept Comodo ahead in a highly competitive industry.
  • Resilience: Abdulhayoglu’s journey faced numerous challenges, including intense competition and market fluctuations, but his resilience ensured sustained growth and success.

4. Eren Bali: Udemy

Eren Bali, co-founder of Udemy, has transformed the online education landscape. Growing up in a small Turkish village, Bali’s curiosity and passion for learning led him to create Udemy, a global marketplace for learning and teaching online. Today, Udemy offers thousands of courses and has millions of students and instructors worldwide.

Key Lessons:

  • Turning Challenges into Opportunities: Bali’s educational challenges inspired him to create a platform that democratizes education, making it accessible to everyone.
  • Scalability: Udemy’s platform was designed to scale, accommodating a vast number of courses and users while maintaining quality and user experience.
  • Social Impact: Beyond financial success, Bali focused on creating a positive social impact by providing educational opportunities to underserved populations.

5. Ali Sabancı: Pegasus Airlines

Ali Sabancı transformed Pegasus Airlines into Turkey’s leading low-cost carrier. Under his leadership, Pegasus adopted a low-cost business model, making air travel affordable for millions of people in Turkey and beyond. The airline’s success story is a testament to Sabancı’s strategic vision and management acumen.

Key Lessons:

  • Disruptive Innovation: Sabancı’s low-cost model disrupted the traditional airline industry in Turkey, creating a new market segment.
  • Operational Efficiency: Streamlining operations and focusing on cost-efficiency allowed Pegasus to offer competitive prices without compromising service quality.
  • Customer-Centric Approach: Understanding and meeting the needs of budget-conscious travelers was central to Pegasus’s growth and success.


6. Sina Afra: Markafoni

Sina Afra co-founded Markafoni, Turkey’s first online fashion and lifestyle outlet, in 2008. The company grew rapidly, becoming a pioneer in the e-commerce sector. In 2011, Markafoni was sold to South African media giant Naspers, marking one of the first major exits in the Turkish startup ecosystem.

Key Lessons:

  • First-Mover Advantage: Being the first to enter the online fashion market gave Markafoni a significant competitive edge.
  • Building Brand Loyalty: Afra focused on creating a strong brand identity and building customer loyalty through exceptional service and exclusive deals.
  • Exit Strategy: Planning for a successful exit from the beginning ensured a profitable and smooth transition when the company was acquired.


The success stories of these top Turkish entrepreneurs highlight the diverse opportunities and challenges in Turkey’s business landscape. Their journeys offer invaluable lessons in innovation, resilience, customer focus, and strategic vision. From leveraging technology to disrupting traditional markets, these entrepreneurs have not only achieved financial success but have also made significant contributions to their industries and society.

As Turkey continues to evolve as a hub for entrepreneurship and innovation, these success stories serve as inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs. Whether you are looking to start a new venture or scale an existing one, the experiences and insights of Turkey’s top entrepreneurs provide a roadmap for navigating the dynamic and exciting world of business.

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