Interview with a Giant of the Investor World: Refiye Yazıcı Tells Everything About Building Startup-Investor Relationships
Many great ideas die before being born simply because of lack of funds to realize them. This fact is the most important problem startups face. Thankfully, there are answers and many different solutions.
Refiye Yazıcı is the Operating Partner of TRPE Capital — a venture capital company that provides investment for startups in Turkey. She serves on the board of Pisano. She is responsible for financial and operational management of the portfolio companies. She has immense experience in financial and operational management with TetraLaval Group and Eczacıbaşı. Refiye Yazıcı holds a B.A. degree in Business Administration from Bogazici University.
Refiye Yazıcı is the name behind so many successful startups in Turkey. She gave an amazing interview and explained what it means to invest in startups and how TRPE maintains successful relationships with those startups. She also kindly shared how she helps guide those fledgling companies with entrepreneurial ideas.
1.Let’s start with our first question; which factors motivate you when you are investing in a startup?
When I’m investing in a new project, the very first thing I check is whether we are doing the right job with the right people. This is the same for startup companies too. The “right team-right project” pairing is a must for us. When you work on the right project with the right people that are honest, trustworthy, and know what they are doing, then that project certainly has a high chance of success.
Startup investments are even more sensible about the “right team” issue. It is crucial for project’s efficiency and success that you work with those people who shoulder the risk and share the same vision as the partners. -
2.How do you measure the success of a startup you have invested in?
Though success criteria of a company depend on the project content, I do use standard measurements like growth, profitability, market share, and global/regional market position. My team can proceed seamlessly only if we are able to easily calculate and relay the development of a startup. Yet, there could be specific criteria like the number of customers, overseas expansion, etc.
3.What is your secret to building happy and successful relationships with the startups you have invested in?
Successful communication requires effort. A startup-investor relationship is a long and dynamic process; opinions should be exchanged every day, there should be discussions about solutions, and decisions should be made as a team. Everyone has to take responsibility and shoulder some of the burden.
In a team environment, everyone works on solutions together; this resulting positive atmosphere will naturally foster happy and successful relationships.
4.How do you sustain strong relationships with the startups once started?
The basic elements of strong startup-investor relationships I mentioned above are the same factors that sustain the relationship. But, there is one question about trust that always stuck with me and shaped all of my business operations since the days of my new employee training: Would you jump out of a plane with your friend’s parachute?
When I invest in a startup, I answer this question with a big “Yes.” Thus, the trust environment is built right from the start. It also evolves through mutual knowledge and experience sharing.
5.Which feature of the Turkish entrepreneur spirit do you think makes it successful?
Turkish entrepreneurs are very creative. They have courage and self-confidence. They are totally integrated with the rest of the world and can learn and adapt quickly.
6.The most common question about startups is “I have an awesome idea; but how do I find investors?”
How do you answer this question?
Firstly, I can say it’s so much easier than it used to be. There are many platforms to find investors for startups. Now, it is as simple as sending an email about your idea.
The most important thing is finding an investor who understands and values your idea; an investor who has the ability to envision a future together with you.
7. TRPE Capital’s “R-Scholars” program supports women entrepreneurs who are still students. Where did this great idea come from?
All entrepreneurs know that the most important question for a successful venture is “Does anyone need this?” I observed that creating opportunities for women to achieve their true creative potential has positive impact on our society and future in general. One of the best ways to do is to encourage the potential that students carry. So, this project helps them unfold their creativity without the glass ceiling syndrome problem.
“R-Scholars” is a revolutionary social responsibility project about what I personally know best: startups. There were already several projects that made me very proud and hopeful about the future. The project’s goal is to increase the number of very valuable companies like ustamdan.com.
8.What do you think about Pisano? What makes Pisano special among other tech startup companies?
Pisano represents two great values for me: “Success” achieved in very short amount of time with big but confident steps, and “experience” that we gained together during this journey.
It is a fact that entrepreneurs always find a way to realize their ideas. However, the reverse doesn’t apply: Investors cannot survive without entrepreneurs. I’m aware of this and I’m proud to work with Pisano.