10 impressive start-ups from Istanbul to watch

19 Jul 2018

The Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey. Image: OPIS Zagreb/Shutterstock

Istanbul is making history as the beating heart of a major tech start-up revolution in Turkey.

A city of the ages that bridges Europe with Asia, Istanbul has been at the centre of world history for two millennia and has also been known as Byzantium and Constantinople.

At various points, it was the capital of the Roman Empire and the centre of Christianity, and has borne witness to tumultuous events ranging from the fall of the Roman Empire to the Crusades. It has been a major Turkish city since its capture in the 15th century by the Ottomans.

Today, Istanbul is one of the largest cities in Europe and a melting pot of world history and culture. While it is home to some of the country’s biggest businesses and industries, it also has a thriving tech start-up scene.

Strategically located between key markets including western Europe, Russia and central Asia, the city is open for business to overseas entrepreneurs and is chock-full of government-backed technology parks and accelerators.

It boasts a strong engineering culture bolstered by talent from several universities, including Yildiz Technical University and Istanbul Technical University.

Key start-up meet-ups include Istanbul Entrepreneur & Startup Networking, Turkey OpenStack MeetupLean Startup Meetup Group, Mobil Istanbul NetworkE-Commerce MeetupStartup Founder 101 and Spark Meetup, to name a few.

The city has also attracted global accelerators including Founder Institute, New York’s Endeavor and Startupbootcamp.


Digime3D enables medical and fitness professionals to use 3D scanning to extract key body shape and measurements for clients. With an iPad and a compatible 3D scanner, Digime3D creates a three-dimensional model of your body in as little as 40 seconds. Led by CEO Derya Kavarna, in June it raised $2.2m in seed funding from Istanbul venture firm Tarvenn.


Iyzico provides a secure payment management platform to online companies of different sizes in different industries, including a virtual point-of-sale solution, a solution for managing marketplace payments, an online link payment service and a shopping service. Founded in 2012 by Barbaros Özbuğutu and Tahsin Isin, Iyzico has raised $24m in funding to date from investors including Amadeus Capital, Endeavor Catalyst, Speedinvest and International Finance Corporation.


melis guctas

Melis Guctas, founder and CEO of Modacruz. Image: PRNewsfoto/Middle East Venture Partners

Modacruz is an online social marketplace that enables women to buy and sell pre-owned luxury fashion items. It has more than 1m users who purchase from millions of listed items. Founded in 2014, Modacruz is headed by Melis Guctas and last year raised $2m in a Series B funding round, bringing total investment in the company to $4.9m. Investors include Middle East Venture Partners, Hummingbird and Nevzat Aydin.


Modanisa is an online fashion retailer for women’s clothing and accessories. Founded in 2011, the platform is led by CEO Kerim Türe and has raised $10.5m in funding to date from investors including Wamda Capital, STC Ventures and Aslanoba Capital.


Paraşüt is an Istanbul-based start-up developing a SaaS invoice and expenses management application to empower small businesses. The finance management platform was founded in 2013 and has gone from strength to strength since then, headed by Sean Yu. Paraşüt aims to offer basic financial information that entrepreneurs need in an easy-to-understand and actionable way. The company has raised $3.9m in investment to date from investors that include Diffusion Capital, Revo Capital and 500 Startups.

Peak Games

Peak Games is an Istanbul-based mobile gaming platform that focuses on creating highly rated mobile games, including Toy Blast and the recently launched Toon Blast. The company, which was founded in 2010, has raised $18m in funding. It also saw a recent windfall after selling off its game card studio to online gaming giant Zynga in November last year for $100m.


Posted by Scorp on Friday, December 1, 2017


A video-based social network, Scorp lets users upload 15-second videos on any topic and start a conversation. Founded in 2015, Scorp is led by CEO Sercan Isik and has raised $1.9m in seed funding from angel investors.


Sinemia, which was founded in Istanbul and has expanded into the US with offices in LA, is a subscription service for cinema tickets. Last year, the platform surpassed more than 22m users. It was founded in 2015 by CEO Rıfat Oğuz and has raised $2.2m from investors that include Nexus Ventures, Revo Capital, Istanbul Startup Angels and 500 Startups.


Trendyol is a mobile commerce company selling more than 70m items per year. Founder and CEO Demet Mutlu launched her e-commerce company from her kitchen table as a student at Harvard Business School while studying for an MBA. The company had raised $36.9m in funding prior to a recent additional undisclosed sum from Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.


Twentify is a mobile insights platform that started in Istanbul and now has offices in Toronto and New York. It allows companies to very easily conduct market research, enabling brands to collect growth-focused insights by reaching half a million consumers around the world. Brands can learn their target audience’s behaviour and thoughts, and receive feedback on their products and marketing initiatives. Headed by CEO Ilker Inanc, Twentify was founded in 2014 and has raised $1.6m in funding so far.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years