İşbank, the largest private bank in Turkey has made a bigger move into the startup ecosystem.
Since forming an agile and energetic Innovation Team within the Digital Banking Unit, the bank has become much closer to the tech entrepreneurs of the country. The Innovation team is working remotely at Kolektif House Levent (the hottest co-working space for the Turkish start-up ecosystem in Istanbul) since mid-October. The team became the bridge between the startups and the Bank.
Now this bridge is much more solid because İşbank started an “Entrepreneurship Program; Workup” http://www.workup.ist/
Workup is an entrepreneurship program made possible by İşbank and ran together with Kolektif House, Hackquarters (the seasoned accelerator team) and Omer Erkmen (the well-known and respected mentor and angel investor in Turkey). It is located an approximately 150sqm space at Kolektif House Levent which has the capacity of hosting 30 entrepreneurs (~15 teams).
The program will have 6 months long batches and the first month will be a trial period where both the entrepreneurs and the program owners can decide whether it is a good fit for both parties. During the program, the startups will get mentorship, education and consultancy, access to İşbank and its partner network and introduction to the biggest Venture Capitals (VC) and angel investors of the country. The main goal of the program is to help startups with mentorship and guidance in order to scale and hopefully become global success stories.
Among the mentors are domain experts in UI / UX, digital marketing, growth hacking, legal and accounting etc., general partners of the biggest VC in Turkey, managers from İşbank and experienced entrepreneurs with prior exits.
There will be no ask for equity to be part of the program; it is totally free for the startups to join.
The program is stage-agnostic and vertical-agnostic. Therefore, every tech entrepreneur from Turkey whether in an idea stage or with a MVP or furthermore with customers could join. They can be both in fintech and in any other vertical.
After announcing the program in mid-April there has been close to 500 applications till the beginning of May. Close to 40 startups have passed the first evaluation process and took face to face meetings with program owners. The ones who have a strong team, an ambitious goal, a focus and a big market opportunity were accepted to the program.
The first batch startups are;
They all have their own KPI’s in terms of growth and will try to hit those metrics with the help and guidance of Workup.
İşbank's initiatives in the entrepreneurial ecosystem was awarded at the Corporate Startup Summit, which was organized for the first time in Turkey on May 2017.The bank was chosen among the top 10 companies among “Startup Friendly Companies” with its activities towards entrepreneurial ecosystem.
In the survey that entrepreneurs chose "the most friendly corporate companies / banks" in terms of their own with criteria such as being open to collaboration, investing, helping with mentorship, education and consultancy, offering business potentials and offering Incubator / Accelerator programs.
İşbank is moving forward ambitiously by supporting the growth of the entrepreneurship ecosystem in line with its mission to contribute to the development of national economy and with the recent requirements of the world.