This article is written by Jeremiah Uke, a Contributor Author at Startup Istanbul.
Hanzade Dogan Boyner, is a leading figure in Turkey’s online and digital world, a pioneer of e-commerce in Turkey, she founded and has led Hepsiburada.com to become the biggest online retailer in the region, she has a robust experience in building businesses and growing startups, she was a guest at Startup Istanbul 2016 and was interviewed in a fireside chat by Christopher Schroeder, who is an American entrepreneur, advisor and investor.
He is the author of the recent bestseller, and the first book on startups in the Arab World, Startup Rising — The Entrepreneurial Revolution Remaking the Middle East.
Hanzade Boyner is a Turkish businesswoman, serial entrepreneur, and philanthropist, she founded Hepsiburada.com in 1998, an online retailer which has become Turkey’s Amazon. Hanzade was present at Startup Istanbul, where she had a fireside chat with Christopher Schroeder, where they discussed her methods, culture and entrepreneurship journey. Questions asked and answers are below:
- How have you managed uncertainty in the past years?
This year has been a very important year for us in our company, we’ve been around for more than a decade and we think about long-term results, we tend to not shift our strategy with daily uncertainties, we have accelerated our investments, in the last 2 years we have invested over 200 million TL in our platform. This year we opened our platform to third-party merchants, allowing thousands of merchants across countries to be a part of the 57 million visits our websites receive in a month, we have more than 2.5 million unique products, another initiative we came up with HepsiPay, which allows merchants to receive payments in a day.
- What keeps you awake at night?
E-commerce is a complex business model, but this does not keep me awake at night, we have a proven business model, what keeps me and my team awake is general issues with customers, delivery companies, fulfillment center backlogs, anything that affects the service delivery to our customers is what keeps us awake. Trust is the single most important value from our customers and we are committed to protecting that value at any cost, this includes us solving delivery problems by having to deliver ourselves. Its all about the customer and how we keep the promise we give to the customer.
- How do you find world-class talent and retain them?
I will like to emphasize the importance of being customer focused, I advise entrepreneurs to start from their customers, find out what the customers need and work on your product. Talent is the most important asset we have, the way we recruit talent has slightly changed in the last 2 years, we used to be more focused on experience-based recruitment, we would look at what the candidate has done before us through their resume, but in the last two years we moved to a more character-based recruitment, independent of what the candidate has done, we look at whether he or she has a teachable spirit, resilience, problem-solving capabilities and we check if his/her personal values match ours. In looking for talent, we go as far as speaking at universities, we set long term incentives and make sure the KPI’s are well defined.