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New gaming-focused venture capital unveils $35 million fund

The burgeoning reputation of Türkiye in the mobile gaming industry has captured not only local but also global investors’ attention. It all began with Peak, Türkiye’s first billion-dollar tech venture in mobile gaming, followed closely by Dream Games, founded by former Peak team members, reinforcing confidence in gaming ventures.

This surge has spurred the creation of venture capital funds specifically dedicated to the gaming sector.

Laton Ventures is the newest addition to the ecosystem, having announced this week the launch of a $35 million fund tailored toward gaming investments.

Görkem Türk, the founding partner of Laton Ventures, states their intention to target pre-seed and seed-stage ventures with global business potential.

Leveraging Türkiye’s strategic position in the industry, Laton Ventures aims to become a leading global investor. The firm’s inaugural fund, established in the Netherlands, positions it as a conduit between Türkiye and the global gaming arena, with investments not limited to the country but extending worldwide.

Investor expertise

In Türkiye, game studios typically consist of small teams averaging four to five employees. It’s imperative for venture capitalists investing in these ventures to possess a nuanced understanding of the sector’s dynamics to make informed decisions.

Laton Ventures intends to provide substantial operational support to its portfolio companies, encompassing areas such as marketing strategy, game design, software and data analysis, thereby catalyzing the growth of these enterprises.

The roster of investors at Laton includes industry luminaries such as Mehmet Ecevit, co-founder of Gram Games; Mert Gür of Loop Games; Nevzat Aydın, founder of Yemeksepeti; Mert Can Kurum, founder of Ruby Games; Fırat Ileri, managing partner of Hummingbird Ventures; Buğra Koç, general manager of Zynga Türkiye; Cenk Coşkuntürk, partner at Mediterra Capital and Eric Kress, founder of Gossamer.

Many of these individuals actively engage with portfolio companies within the scope of Laton’s operational advisory model.

Fostering early-stage growth

The gaming market presents an attractive entry point not only for developers but also for the burgeoning gaming community. In 2023 alone, Turkish gaming ventures received $31.1 million in investments through 41 agreements, underscoring the market’s potential.

Laton Ventures’ robust investment team and experienced consultants form the cornerstone of its investment model, making it a preferred partner for early-stage gaming ventures and investors alike.

Mobile gaming prowess

Türk stressed Türkiye’s ascendancy in the gaming sector, positioning its biggest city, Istanbul, as the second-largest hub for game studios in Europe after the U.K. This momentum has piqued global investor interest.

“Thanks to our bridge position between Türkiye and the global gaming ecosystem and our operational advisory model, we provide access to the best investment opportunities from all around the world, including Türkiye. We are very excited about supporting teams that we believe will succeed on a global scale,” he noted.

Over the past six months, Laton Ventures has made five investments, two in Türkiye, two in Europe and one in America. Its collaboration with leading global funds and its track record of securing ventures in competitive rounds underscore its rapid ascent in the industry.

Binance empowers women with tech education in Hatay

In the face of persistent workplace inequalities, women often find themselves grappling to maintain a foothold in the professional sphere.

In a bid to empower women and contribute to family incomes following the devastating earthquakes that rocked Türkiye’s southeastern region last year, Binance Women’s Academy successfully graduated 81 women in technology education in Hatay province.

Held in the district of Antakya, the program meticulously crafted training sessions focused on financial literacy, blockchain technology, artificial intelligence, NFTs and cybersecurity, equipping participants with the requisite knowledge and skills to navigate the Web3 landscape.

The narratives of three women, now partners of Binance, who actively engage in technical analysis and share insights on crypto across social platforms, served as a source of inspiration for the graduates.

Kamile Uray, a former public worker; Filiz Yalçın, a retiree from a private institution and Gülen Okumuş, who relocated from a city like Istanbul to a village, embarked on their crypto journeys seven to eight years ago, catalyzing transformative changes in their lives.

Graduates of the Binance Women in Technology Academy in Hatay, southeastern Türkiye. (Courtesy of Binance Türkiye)
Graduates of the Binance Women in Technology Academy in Hatay, southeastern Türkiye. (Courtesy of Binance Türkiye)

Initially facing losses like any curious individual, they later became guiding figures with the technical analyses they shared on “Birdsite,” as Uray refers to Twitter.

Equal opportunity

To heal the wounds after the quakes and bring hope to women in the region, they shared their stories at the Binance Women in Technology Academy event, which aims to increase the presence of women in the fields of crypto, blockchain and Web 3.0, thereby addressing gender inequality in the industry and aiming to be a significant milestone in increasing Türkiye’s technological and economic power.

While 80 young women from the quake zone attended the training, Mücahit Dönmez, the general manager of Binance Türkiye, Zehra Öney, the founding chair of the Women in Technology Association and Harika Eldoğan, the marketing director of Binance Türkiye, participated in the program.

Transitioning into retirement

Uray recounted her post-retirement venture into crypto technical analysis, which evolved from sharing insights on “Birdsite” (Twitter) to her current role as a co-founder, trader and educator at Vuca Borsa, sustaining her livelihood entirely through crypto endeavors.

“After retiring, I started receiving a very low pension. If I had relied solely on my pension, I couldn’t have made ends meet. My goal is not to earn a lot but to provide a steady income. Therefore, I plan my strategies beforehand, knowing my risks and acting accordingly. If I’m going to stop, my risk is defined,” she noted.

“By relying on technical analysis, we manage to sustain ourselves by first protecting our capital. When information comes in bits, you can’t grasp the whole. That’s when I said I should learn technical analysis. I researched and received professional training. That was my turning point. Since that day, I’ve been in crypto, and I’m glad I got into it. I’m glad I’m doing this job.”

Starting with father’s advice

Yalçın reflected on her initial setbacks in the crypto sphere, driven by her father’s advice to invest in Bitcoin. Despite early losses, she persevered, dedicating herself to learning the intricacies of the industry, ultimately establishing herself as a business partner with Binance.

Yalçın said her husband and she were ordinary wage earners and had very little savings.

“My father said to me, ‘There’s something called bitcoin, virtual money, buy some, you’ll profit.’ So I bought it. Unfortunately, I bought it at its peak, and it dropped after I bought it, and I lost all my money due to wrong choices,” she noted.

As a founder partner of Crypto House, Yalçın says she panicked but persisted and questioned what she did wrong.

“I had to learn this business, turn it into a profession and regain what I lost. This was my turning point. I started getting educated. I went from one training session to another. I drew graphs and did analysis for hours. And I succeeded. In 2017, when I first entered, I didn’t know how to do it, and now I’m working as a business partner with the Binance exchange,” she explained.

From Istanbul to village

Okumuş, a 44-year-old industrial engineer who transitioned from urban life to rural tranquility seven years ago, leaving behind her entire career and company, embarked on her crypto journey out of necessity.

Despite initial challenges, she became a founding partner of Crypto House and a business partner of Binance through relentless education and determination.

“This was truly a turning point for me. Going from a city apartment child to dealing with agriculture, gardening and returning to nature was the beginning of a very difficult process, both financially and spiritually. I entered this ecosystem only with the concern of sustaining my home, and now I continue to work as a technical analyst in a crypto community of which I am one of the founders. I have also provided one-on-one technical analysis training to over 50 people entirely free of charge, and I will continue to share what I know with the Turkish crypto community,” she said.

Defense industry gets deep tech venture program

Teknopark Istanbul, through the incubation center Cube Incubation, has initiated an acceleration program in partnership with Aselsan focusing on ventures in defense technologies.

The Deepdefence aims to contribute to the innovation process of startups working in defense tech or fields adaptable to related technologies, such as prototype development, commercialization, growth and globalization, according to the needs of the ventures.

The pioneering defense electronics manufacturer, Aselsan has partnered with Türk Telekom, one of Türkiye’s leading telecommunications and technology companies, with the vision of developing domestic and national technologies.

Aselsan’s newly developed 2G-3G-4.5G base station antenna is actively used in the field in collaboration with Türk Telekom. The installation of test versions of the next-generation antenna, capable of supporting multiple bands and providing 2G-3G-4.5G services, was carried out in the network of Türk Telekom.

Aselsan aims to leverage its expertise in communication technologies into the entrepreneurial ecosystem, and it is expected to benefit from Türk Telekom’s experience, given its long engagement through Pilot, its startup acceleration program.

Public grant program

Within the program, entrepreneurs will receive various training sessions, mentorship support including technical mentoring provided by Aselsan, the opportunity to be the first customer when applicable, product/prototype validation support, laboratory and infrastructure support, access to Cube Incubation’s center facilities, consultancy for public grant programs, access to investment funds, marketing and promotion support, as well as access to international acceleration programs.

“At Teknopark Istanbul, which has become a globally recognized center, we aim to contribute to the strengthening of our country’s defense technology capabilities by supporting our entrepreneurs,” said M. Fatih Özsoy, general manager of Teknopark Istanbul.

“We believe that with a pioneering institution like Aselsan, we will open up new horizons for our entrepreneurs in this field.”

AI Startup Factory initiates selection process for ventures

Smart Advice, an ITÜ Magnet initiative offering smart solutions tailored for the digital finance sector, has become the first financial technology venture accepted into the AI Startup Factory within the Işbank Group.

The development marks a milestone for the fintech company, part of the ITÜ Magnet, an advanced entrepreneurship center that provides services and an environment to advanced-stage entrepreneurs and startups to facilitate their growth processes.

People are seen at ITÜ Magnet in Istanbul, Türkiye. (Courtesy of ITÜ Magnet)
People are seen at ITÜ Magnet in Istanbul, Türkiye. (Courtesy of ITÜ Magnet)

Smart Advice currently assists in managing $200 million in assets with the 19 financial institutions it collaborates with. It will simplify the process of analyzing thousands of funds and making sound investment decisions with its new service, the artificial intelligence-supported investment advisor platform “More Wealth.” The platform will soon be launched in Europe as well.

Smart Advice has been playing a pioneering role in the transformation of the financial services sector since 2017 with its solutions offered to the finance, investment, insurance, retirement, brokerage and asset management sectors.

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