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 A big company or a Startup?

photo-1436891678271-9c672565d8f6Can you really think of such an alternative? You graduate from the university, your life is right in front of you. There is nothing you cannot cope with for the future. And there are numerous amazing companies both in Turkey and abroad that you can apply.  Garanti Bank, Turkish Airlines or Arcelik in Turkey. There are wide range of companies abroad: BMW, Google, McKinsey, Venture Capital Companies, Hedge Funds, Space X or Tesla… I am carried away as I’m writing.


There are also startup companies that nobody even heard about. Companies with big dreams.. People who call themselves entrepreneurs.. Some who haven’t figured out how to earn money. Others are very much at the beginning of the path, waiting for surprises everyday.. There are of course some growing businesses among them. Growing so fast that it is obvious they will be successful in the future.


What would you do?  A big company or a Startup?

– If you ask your father, you can start working in a big company and stay there forever.

– If you ask you grandfather, he might not like both and tell you the government is always the best.

– If you ask your best friends, what would they say?

– What about your partner? Would s/he say “Oh no my dear, we were going to get married, what’s the Startup thing?” Or “Yes my love, go ahead with startup?”




I think you can be really indecisive. So, do not ask your closed surroundings. Never do so. The answer of your question will always be within the family and relationship context. Go and ask to people who you are not really close with. You’ll see, you’ll get more fruitful answers. (And I suggest you also read about ‘weak ties’ in ‘The Tipping Point’ by Malcolm Gladwell).



After you decide who to ask and who not to ask, let’s go back to the initial question.  A big company or a Startup? What’s your preference?



Let’s go back to old times, then.. 15-20 years ago you had no startup opportunity. This means you are the lucky generation. Unfortunately this does not solve your problem. For instance, being a consultant or investment banker were the two most popular occupations 25-30 years ago.  Today, consultancy is not as popular as it used to be however it’s still considered as a good occupation.  However, banking, thanks to Lehman Brothers, has lost its attraction especially abroad. The dream world of the ‘Wall Street’ has fallen behind.



We are turning back to today: Have you decided?  A big company or a Startup? What else do you need? Salary information? I think there will not be much difference between two. At least let’s think in that way. But I can hear you saying’ The salary is important’. Then go to the company which gives the highest salary immediately. For instance arms production, cigarette companies, etc. Oh, and there is also a dimension called happiness. This means the meaning of your job or loving what you do. Is this important? Then let’s find the companies which have changed the world. Seems like startup idea is getting popular.. But, what about private health insurance? Oh no! Where is this coming from? Then, let’s consider a big company again, my friends. These fluctuating ideas are a part of this process. Since day one, you will always have the other option in your mind and think that they are better (however, I must say whatever you decide on, it’s not the case)



My company called “Markafoni” was growing so fast. We moved the company to a 11-floor building from a small place in Asmalimescit area (Above “Otto”) within six months. The first 12 months, there were around 50 people working at the company.  The second year, 150-170 people joined us. Our building in Harbiye was 11 floors but four floors were underground. These floors had dampness, mold and the bottom part was full of mice. But if you ask people who worked there for Markafoni, you may hear some crazy people telling you it was the best office in the world. The point is not where you work, it’s being a part of the story.  You were working around the clock. Who was dating with who was known. Who was at loggerheads was known. There was no shuttle service or any other ‘corporate’ beauties. Harbiye area’s beginnings were a regular anarchy. I used to love this structure.



Back then, it was really difficult to find the right people and convince people to work for Markafoni (even though everyone thinks the opposite) I would like to share some anecdotes without giving any names.. (Leading people, please no offense)


There is an applicant sitting in my office at the top floor. We had met through a friend whom I trust so much. The applicant came with a suit and a tie. This person who will turn into a Spartan is sweating in front of me that day. I am still not sure, is it because of the heat, the weight or the excitement. I offer him a duty.. He tells me he needs to decide between Vodafone and Markafoni. After a few days, he calls and says he chose Markafoni. I was extremely happy (it was the first time someone has chosen us against a corporate company). After that, we have come up with really good business together.



Another story is a love story within the company. Long story short, a man falls in love with a girl. They fall in love later on.
A girl ends the relationship with a decision of going abroad. Our male character gets into depression and we transfer him abroad to make him feel better (we were a startup company but we have become the first Turkish internet company working worldwide) Upon his return, he looks normal again. Up to now the story might not be interesting however when you are a startup company, every person knows the details of any story. When I received my coffee in the mornings, the first topic would be: ‘What happened to our “Romeo and Juliet”?’ Everyone would talk about them. I think only they were not aware of this.



Startup is such a place that one day two of your friends who do the website can come and tell you “We are leaving, we are going far away”. All of sudden all the balances in the company are turned over.  The excitement and stress you go through lead you to new places. Life provides you with some hints that the addiction to a couple of people may be really risky (Note to myself: I will write this story in details one day).



The stories of company dinners and parties (Our dinner at Kumkapi was mentioned for so long), personnel bringing their best friends to the company… The day comes where you find yourself in a very intense world. People who left this world have become entrepreneurs later on.  I think all of them except one have become really successful. Most have started working in other companies – but I don’t think they have been to such intensive emotional working environment again.



Do you like the stories above? Then your place is a ‘startup’. If you find the stories strange, then your place should be a big company. My humble suggestion for you is to follow your heart. There are various criteria. You won’t be able to survive by analysing the dilemma. Give startup a chance and dance with the flow of the music. If you like it, you will have an unforgettable experience. Please have no doubt about this. If you do not like it, keep in mind that big companies will always want experienced people.



Oh, there is also the third option, of course. Being an entrepreneur.  If you would like to be the person who makes the music, I think this is the most exciting option. However the main focus of my article is not this option, so I won’t mention about it more.



As you are deciding, I would like to hear more about you through Twitter.




A Turkish Proverb says ‘A wolf who goes around is never hungry’

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