We attended the third online meetup of the HSBC Sustainable Growth Program, organized by global startup accelerator Hackquarters. During the event, the Investment Perspectives in ClimateTech & Social Entrepreneurship were discussed to raise awareness for Climate Action and Technology.
Moderated by Umay Yılmaz, Secretary General at Corrugated Packaging Association, Namık Kural, one of our founding partners, along with İlkay Demirdağ, Head of Investor Relations at Enerjisa, and Can Atacık, Founder at Alethina International Investments, shared their opinions on evaluating startups from the investors’ perspective.
The meetup began with a speech by Hackquarters Founder and CEO Kaan Akn on the program’s details, Climate Action, and social entrepreneurship statistics. Since 2020, 350 startups have applied for the Program, with 31 being chosen for the three batches. Akın stated that there is a lot of investment in the climate and energy sectors, and that a large portion of that investment is reserved for social enterprises.
The first panelist was İlkay Demirdağ, Enerjisa Energy Investment and Impact Strategist. She started her speech by saying that the World Economic Forum identifies 10-year risks every year and the topics in 2022 were social and environmental oriented. According to Demirdağ, the global temperature rise has been faster than expected, and the pandemic has brought the social dimension into play. While these issues are not a priority for businesses, ESGs are now in the investment agenda. Pointing out that regulatory changes have begun in specific countries, Demirdağ stated that the budget allocated for the 2030 Development Goals is 5-7 trillion dollars and there will be a lot of opportunities rising for entrepreneurs. Demirdağ added that as the capabilities to manage unpredictable risks have been developed, access to finance will become easier, resulting in the creation of new markets and revenue growth.
The second speaker of the panel, Alethina Impact Founder, Can Atacık, pointed out that impact is both a necessity and an opportunity. Atacık stated that as investors, they ask entrepreneurs “what they are solving” and that Y Combinator in the USA has compiled this question in 6 criteria:
- Is the problem popular?
- Is the problem recurring?
- Is the problem growing bigger?
- Is the problem urgent?
- Is the solution expensive?
- Is the problem a necessity?
Stating that all enterprises should consider these 6 criteria from a climate point of view, he also discussed flexible investment models based on the effect they are attempting to create. He went on to say that while venture capital firms aim to have UNICORNs, it is unrealistic to expect the same from impact investing.
The difference between an angel investor and a VC is the emotional bond it establishes with the startup
Namık Kural, one of our founding partners, stated that until 3-4 years ago, there were “romantic” projects that were not realistic and attempted to solve problems that didn’t exist. Kural said: “I’m from an engineer background, but this is an emotional field. Angel investors also need to establish an emotional bond in this regard. VCs have no such priority. I want to look into the eyes of the entrepreneur and would like to see their passion”.
“I’m from an engineer background, but this is an emotional field. Angel investors also need to establish an emotional bond in this regard. VCs have no such priority. I want to look into the eyes of the entrepreneur and would like to see their passion.”
Namık Kural, Chairman of the Investment Committee
The meetup concluded with Nanomik Co-Founder Buse Berber Örçen and Biolive Co-Founder Duygu Yılmaz discussing the amount of investment they received as Sustainable Growth Program 2022 participants and their efforts. They also talked about the characteristics that distinguish the social entrepreneur from the regular entrepreneur in terms of investment.
The program, which began its third term this year, focuses specifically on accelerating climate-related social entrepreneurs.