Eight years after raising its first $30 million fund, 212 is back in the market with a $30 million first close for its latest fund focused on investments in Turkish and Eastern European startups.
Looking to invest in business-to-business software as a service startups, financial services technologies and marketplace businesses, the firm has already launched four companies that have captured regional and global attention, says Numan Numan, one of the firm’s co-founders and managing directors.
212 has Iyzico, one of the largest payment processing businesses in Turkey; Insider, a southeast Asian-focused e-commerce enabled platform, is another portfolio win (it raised $11 million in follow-on financing from no less illustrious a firm than Sequoia Capital).
Two other companies that have gained traction are Hotel Runner, a service bringing hotels and online travel agencies into a marketplace with technology service vendors that already has 55,000 hotels registered in more than 160 different countries; and a supply chain management company called Solvoyo.
It’s still early days for the firm, but its focus on “companies that are ready to sell internationally and are already selling,” is paying dividends, Numan said.
All of the firm’s portfolio companies are generating half of their revenues outside of the Turkish market.
And Turkey itself is experiencing a surge in venture capital investment. There are roughly 15 investment firms in Turkey focused on technology companies, Numan says. “We still have a shortage of money and the ecosystem is still new,” he says. “We are the first proper institutional fund in Turkey and we set it up in December 2011.”
Global companies can come from anywhere, says Numan, and increasingly founders of startups are staying put rather than trying to navigate the U.S. immigration system that’s becoming increasingly draconian. “They end up setting up in Berlin or in Lisbon or somewhere in Europe that makes it easier to do that,” Numan says.
Foreign investors are also beginning to take note of what’s happening in Turkey, says Numan. Roughly 20 different venture capital firms have come on to syndicate deals with the Turkish firm.
The two partners in the fund, Numan and his co-founder Ali Karabey, both cut their teeth in finance in New York. Numan was a banker at Goldman Sachs while Karabey worked for Morgan Stanley.
The two began by setting up angel networks in the country and then helped create the nation’s first accelerators. It was after the accelerators had launched that Numan and Karabey decided it was time to raise the first fund. Since that time, Numan says that interest in Turkish companies has grown exponentially.
“The Turkish market is active enough to warrant dedicated exposure on the ground,” says Numan.