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News

Impact Entrepreneurship Program’s first participants graduated

The Impact Entrepreneurship Program, launched in May in partnership with Vehbi Koç Foundation and İşbank to support startups focused on creating a better world, has been completed. The five startups that successfully went through all the stages graduated from the program. During the Impact Day event organized to mark the program’s completion, these five startups came together with investors, stakeholders from the entrepreneurship ecosystem, İşbank and its subsidiaries, and executives from the Vehbi Koç Foundation and Koç University and discussed their business models and goals.

A three-stage process

In total, 178 applications were received for the program, which aimed to support and scale technology startups that create or have the potential to create environmental and social impact on quality education, health and wellbeing, climate action, accessible and clean energy, and sustainable cities and communities. The startups selected for the program, executed by Koç University Entrepreneurship Research Center (KWORKS) and İşbank's entrepreneurship program Workup, with support from the Turkish Social Entrepreneurship Network (TSEN), completed a 24-week intensive training and mentoring process consisting of three stages.

In the first stage, the suitability of the products or services to the market and their impact focuses were reviewed and the business models were verified. Next, the startups developed the leanest solutions to improve their products’ or services’ compatibility with customer expectations and market conditions. Then, they launched their solutions onto the market, increased their sales and completed their funding processes.

More than 30 collaboration meetings

During the three stages, 10 online and face-to-face training programs and seminars were organized. In addition to working with mentors from a 105-person mentor network created specifically for the program for a total of 48 hours, the startups also attended more than 30 collaboration meetings and 21 investor meetings in their respective verticals.

In line with the program’s main objective, the startups also received training and mentoring from KUSIF (Koç University Social Impact Forum) experts on the concept of impact and how to increase and measure impact. Furthermore, they had direct access to the support they needed for functional aspects such as social impact, legal, financial management, digital marketing, and building a team culture.

Partnerships for real impact

Speaking at the event, Hakan Aran, General Manager, İşbank, said, “Our view of the entrepreneurship world involves supporting startups through partnerships where different groups join forces, and achieving results with real impact on society. However, based on the experience we have gained from the Workup program, we see that many startups have difficulty reaching a scale that would create a buzz and make a difference across the country. And they fail to go far because they cannot cross specific thresholds. So, we partnered with Vehbi Koç Foundation and embarked on this path to see what benefits we could create in Turkey and where we could change certain things.” Aran emphasized that they valued the importance of social entrepreneurship and impact entrepreneurship, adding that sustainable development should be at the top of every country’s agenda.

Entrepreneurship and investment models of the future

Oğuz Toprakoğlu, General Manager, Vehbi Koç Foundation, explained that with the environmental and social issues becoming increasingly more complex every day, more innovative and sustainable solutions are needed. He noted that they strived to build an ecosystem for startups, which develop sustainable solutions to social and environmental problems with the entrepreneurship model, adding that they recognize the importance of partnering with trusted and effective institutions with expertise in their respective fields. Toprakoğlu said, “Impact investments and impact startups will be the entrepreneurship and investment models of the future. We can expect to see more and more startups working with sustainable business models to make the world a better place. So, the onus is on us to provide the ecosystem they need and to support them in securing funding.”

 

Impact Entrepreneurship Program Graduates

Blueit: Builds a “Water Management System” to monitor and optimize the quantity of water consumed in the buildings in real time.

https://blueitfuture.com/

Senyorapp: A training, life and community platform created for seniors (50+).

https://senyor.app

Togi Teknoloji: A startup that designs intelligent digital energy management and energy storage solutions for devices running on lithium-ion batteries. Designs and builds battery management systems and energy management platform from the ground up.

http://togitek.com/

Tospaa: A social startup that designs materials for children and teachers to use while learning how to code.

https://tospaa.org/

Walkino: A mobile app that offers a gamified experience to bring a solution to sedentary lifestyles and to encourage people to follow sustainable development goals in daily life.

https://walkino.com/