Dear Bogazici Rector, Umit Bey; TEB CEO Ümit Leblebici; and future entrepreneurs;
Entrepreneurship is a way of life. It’s a powerful force, driving individuals to achieve their dreams, despite the odds and the doubts of others.
I love entrepreneurship. There is nothing like the excitement, glory, fun and sheer thrill of starting something from scratch and watching it grow into a large enterprise of astonishing proportions. If you have the opportunity to be an entrepreneur, grab it. Find passionate and driven people and lead them. Give them all the necessary resources.
My country has been known for its support for entrepreneurs. If it was not for that, we would not have Nike, Apple, Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, Starbucks, and various other brilliant minds start their business in their garages and conquer the world with their products today. We have a strong domestic venture capital system that provides the essential fuel for entrepreneurial startup activity, dramatically shaping our ability to drive innovation and economic growth.
Turkey is also becoming very well known for the new generation of businesses started by young and dynamic entrepreneurs. Some of those businesses such as Yemeksepeti, Markafoni, Lidyana, Bfit, and Hiref are becoming household names.
Entrepreneurship only succeeds with a willingness of an individual and businesses to take risks. This is part of what enables entrepreneurs to try, and ultimately, to succeed. Sometimes they don’t. In some countries even the slightest hint of failure can undermine a person or company’s ability to take a risk ultimately discouraging entrepreneurship, and eliminate a major source of innovation. Failure is acceptable. It is how we learn. Not every innovation can be a success. Don’t be scared.
Additionally the U.S. system of higher education is a crown jewel of our entrepreneurial engine as well. When you take a look at the start-up companies in Silicon Valley, you will recognize that half of them are rooted in some fashion to Stanford University or other universities in the area.
A final driver of entrepreneurship in the global world that we live in is the use of technology. We can do a range of activities from banking to social gatherings online. Someone can develop an application for androids or iphones and they can become instant hits the next day. We even recognize that our President’s campaign was a huge success because he could reach large audiences by establishing online platforms.
U.S. and Turkey share the same energy and I know together we will continue to emphasize innovation and entrepreneurship, especially amongst the younger generation. With this in mind, I am proud to say that the U.S. supports over $1/4 million in programs aimed at inspiring entrepreneurship here in Turkey. I hope that in the future we can work with the Government of Turkey to double this amount and copartner on various projects.
I am excited to hear that the pitches today will award two bright Bogazici students with a trip to the United States. As they will learn a lot from their trip, I am sure their peers will learn a lot from these brilliant minds too. Congratulations to all of you who have made it so far into the program.
Let me close by saying that we need you. Think big, dream big, stay focused and lead us into an even more inspiring age of innovation. And as Steve Jobs once said “and no we don’t know where it will lead we just know that there is something bigger than any of us out there.”