Old and New: Istanbul at the Cross Section of Time

It’s officially Day 2 of our Global Immersion in Istanbul and our group of 40 has done so much already! Many of us arrived a day early and had the opportunity to tour the city. While catching up on each other’s winter break stories, we walked through ancient structures that date back as far as 500 AD. Our group looked up in awe at the magnificent domes covered with intricate blue and gold painted tiles in the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, or more commonly known as the Blue Mosque. Not to be overlooked, the Hagia Sophia stands directly across the Blue Mosque to create the most visited area in the Old City. Standing between these two iconic sites, I couldn’t help but wonder, how did people back then build all of this?

The admiration extended into the first official day of our program. Boston Consulting Group welcomed us into its Istanbul office and provided us with a very insightful overview of Turkey’s current economic situation. We were then whisked away to Fit Startup Factory, one of the first startup incubators in Turkey. As we learned more about the resources made available to entrepreneurs in the last few years, it was incredible to hear how much Turkey has changed.

Yet at the same time, Turkey still seems to have a lot of catching up to do. From the discussions in our meetings, the biggest hurdle facing entrepreneurship in Turkey is the people’s mindset that stems from an older generation. Parents have instilled in their children an aversion to taking on the risks of starting their own companies; rather children are encouraged to find a stable corporate job in which they have a predictable salary. This sentiment was reinforced when we spoke to entrepreneurs at Boğaziçi University’s incubator today.

It will be interesting to see what else we will learn as we continue to explore and analyze the startup scene in Istanbul in the coming days. Oh, but don’t worry, we will of course enjoy as much as the city has to offer in true CBS fashion. Follow our journey at #GIPTurkey and other amazing CBS Chazen trips on #cbschazentravel on social media!

Turkish Delights at the Spice Bazaar
Turkish Delights at the Spice Bazaar

5 thoughts on “Old and New: Istanbul at the Cross Section of Time

  • Hello, I am MBA/MIA ’99 and I work in Tajikistan. I frequently pass through Istanbul and will be there next week. I would be interested to know more about your trip and with whom you met.

  • Hi Daniel! Thanks for reaching out. We met with quite a number of startup programs and business leaders. Some of them include Fit Startup Factory, Endeavor, Markifoni, and the teknopark at Bogazici University. Hope you have an awesome time on your trip!

    • Excellent, I know Endeavor well, will be meeting them again. I am on the Board of Directors of AmCham Tajikistan, the American Chamber of Commerce and Head of Global Entrepreneurship Week Tajikistan/Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Tajikistan. Endeavor is the host of GEW in Turkey and they help me with advice. I always go through Istanbul on my way back to Tajikistan from NY.

      I will ask them about the others.

      Thanks!

  • That’s so exciting! There are some great CBS alumni in Turkey involved in startups, you should connect with the Columbia Global Center there to see if they can help you further. Another great resource we met with was EarlyBird VC.

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