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improve work safety, and relegate dangerous

jobs in dangerous places done by people to

machines. These are very important for the

competitiveness of our own companies. But

we can’t ignore other opportunities that arise

outside of agriculture and construction. If

there is a good idea somewhere, whatever the

sector, you shouldn’t ignore it. Sometimes a

new idea can create its own sector. So a busi-

ness that we as Tekfen do not even consider

today may open up a whole new set of oppor-

tunities for the company.

Selçuk Ergin:

The important thing

about corporate venture is to determine in

advance the strategic investments and op-

portunities of the company’s affiliates and

to be there, and perhaps even learn of pos-

sible opportunities beforehand. Today there

are big opportunities in construction and

agriculture. Tekfen Ventures can make a dif-

ference in these areas. Companies that don’t

digitize now will all go down. We base our

own structure on that.

Sinan Uzan:

There’s a quote from Dar-

win that’s my favourite: “It is not the stron-

gest of the species that survives, nor the most

intelligent that survives. It is the one that is

most adaptable to change.” That’s one of our

key ideas. We must be a company that’s not

the strongest but adaptable.

Do you seek out ventures or do they

find you?

Sinan Uzan:

A little of both. You need

to go out and find new ideas, but sometimes

they come to you, too. Tekfen is a name with

high recognition and a big player in its sectors

in Turkey, both of which make it attractive for

entrepreneurs. And we consider all kinds of

ideas. We try to develop close ties with centers

that support ventures such as MIT, NYU, and

Columbia. The investments that will make up

our portfolio will be chosen after close scru-

tiny using certain criteria, both in terms of

ideas and also their commercial potential.

Selçuk Ergin:

There are no rules or

guides about where a good idea or a venture

will come from. So you have to be every-

where. The idea you are looking for may be

in San Francisco or it may be on an island in

the middle of the ocean. That’s why we talk

with many people every day. We have been in

the field from day one, attending events and

meetings. We may invest in two or three ven-

tures, but for that we will talk with a thou-

sand people. If you think of the Holding as a

hive, we are the bees. We fly around, looking

for the sweetest flowers.

What is the attractive stage of a ven-

ture for you?

Sinan Uzan:

We are mostly interested in

companies that are at an early stage but al-

ready have a balance sheet and a team, com-

panies that are out of the garage, so to speak.

They should have picked up a certain level of

speed, proven the worth of their idea on the

market, looking for finance to attain further

growth. On the other hand, our aim is not

buying out good companies or seizing their

management through majority share. If the

company we will invest in is like an athlete

who has begun running, then we are the ones

providing them the nutrition they need. We

also mentor them, supporting them by show-

ing them the way, because Tekfen Construc-

tion has been in the business for 60 years,

and Toros for nearly 40. We want to use the

experience of our companies to show young

entrepreneurs the way.

How do you decide on an investment?

Sinan Uzan:

First, we closely examine

the company we will invest in, its business

model, its market share, and its plans for the

future. Then we make an internal evaluation.

Sometimes a great idea comes to us but it

may be too early for our portfolio or our in-

vestment principles. In that case, we remain

in touch and continue to follow that com-

pany. If the company’s business model aligns

with our priorities in the future, we may then

decide to invest in it.

When will Tekfen Ventures make its

first investment? Is there a date?

Sinan Uzan:

We’ve only just begun. The

company became active on December 1 last

year. We are still in the process of creating

our team. I think we will be able to announce

our first investments before the end of this




Kris Kemény, head of Tekfen

Ventures’ New York office, says two

passions shape his professional

experience: technological innova-

tion and investment. “The thing that

excites me is overcoming obstacles

for innovation in big industries.”

Kemény describes his typical day at

Tekfen Ventures:

As a venture capitalist, my day

consists of meeting with entre-

preneurs, doing due diligence on

potential investment opportuni-

ties, reading research reports, and

speaking with other investors. My

schedule for last Wednesday may

give an idea of my life here:

I woke up early to catch my flight

to Boston (from NYC) because I had

a day full of meetings at MIT. En

route to La Guardia and as I went

through security at 7 a.m., Sinan

(Uzan) was catching me up on the

day’s events. I spent the short flight

working on a presentation for our

upcoming board meeting. I got in a

cab at Logan Airport and dialed into

my call with the CEO of a Silicon Val-

ley agriculture technology startup. I

arrived at MIT’s Cambridge campus

just in time for my lunch meeting

with the program directors for MIT’s

J-WAFS program where we dis-

cussed their new incubator program

and the various innovations hap-

pening across departments at MIT.

After that, we headed to their offices

where I met with four MIT startup

teams working on various cutting

edge innovations. We finished the fi-

nal pitch at 4 p.m., I took a cab back

to the airport and spent the ride on

the phone with another VC discuss-

ing potential investment opportuni-

ties. I caught up on emails during

the flight and headed back to the

office in New York. I had a call with a

business school student to discuss

an internship opportunity with us.

Shortly before 10 p.m., I went to

grab my tea, missed the handle and

spilled it all over myself. I realized it

was time to go home.