It was a year that is tough to sum up in a few sentences or paragraphs but a few headlines and incidents stood out to us as we reflected on our most recent trip around the sun together. Finally, the pandemic has mostly ended (thankfully) and borders are open again. We have also witnessed public markets’ nose diving and 2021’s inflated tech valuations’ going back to reality. It's also been a year that will stick in everyone's minds for some time, especially as the tech bull-run that has been running for the last decade begins to come to an end. In our world, VC activity slowed down and growth funding has even dried up.
As the ScaleX team, we continued to do what we do best. We continued to look for the next generation of ambitious founders who want to create global success stories. As we mentioned over and over again, regardless of market cycles, there are always entrepreneurs who solve the right problem and listen to the customer, and they will always be successful. These are the people, who change how the world operates and define the next cycle. And ScaleX is investing in them.
Team ScaleX has now made 13 investments with a few more closing to be announced. Since we haven't announced some of our new deals yet, we can't mention them in this article, but you can expect a lot of good news in the coming months.
Kondukto was our first investment in 2022. Kondukto is an early-stage cybersecurity startup founded in 2019, after spinning out of a seasoned managed cyber security services company with more than 10 years of experience in the industry by CEO, Cenk Kalpakoglu and COO, Can Taylan Bilgin.
Rendering security services to the largest financial institutions, e-commerce, and energy companies made the team realize a gap that would be filled with a particular product. They currently provide a tool that is wholly integrated into their software development life cycle which lets large enterprises get security out of the way of development as quickly as possible.
We have observed that as applications proliferate within the enterprise and become a larger cyber attack vector, Application Security is moving to the forefront of CISOs priority list. Ensuring that applications are secure has become especially challenging with frequent code changes and short release cycles in CI/CD environments. This has caused a need for a new set of AppSec tools focused on developer and security team workflow collaboration and intelligence to prioritize actions. This is where Kondukto comes in and we believe Kondukto will be the leader in this nascent market, thanks to both leadership team’s industry know-how and their feature-rich product, and we are truly excited to partner with the team.
Another company we announced our investment this year was Figopara. Founded in 2016 by its CEO Koray Bahar, CTO Arman Eker and CRO Bulut Arukel. Figopara is a new-generation digital lending platform serving the underserved SME community with the ambition of becoming the B2B Neobank of the future.
The platform offers;
The company is currently the only platform focusing on SMEs with automated, scalable and intuitive digital lending services, offering holistic solutions to disrupt traditional slow-moving lending practices.
Our thesis to invest in Figopara is built on a few strong arguments: a large, untapped market, a highly committed, capable founder and management team, innovative and proprietary technology and, as a result, significant positive impact on SMEs.
As ex-entrepreneurs and investors for some time, we have grown to really understand the early-stage startup experience and main challenges. That's why we started to organize events to help companies around us in order to help them scale their visions into generational companies.
Founders' Hub is an example of such events. It’s a community/program we launched this year to connect our vibrant community of B2B Saas founders.
According to the comments from the founders around us, we saw that the most challenging issue for technical founders when going from 0 to 1 was go-to-market. For this reason, we chose the GTM and distribution topics for the first iteration of Founders’ Hub and hosted the best operators from all around the world as speakers for 6 weeks. The platform has quickly become an active community where founders learn from each other, communicate directly, and develop their understanding of GTM through rapid and durable scaling.
Another shortcoming of the entrepreneurship ecosystem that we noticed in the past years was that the entrepreneurs around us are not sufficiently connected with investors, operators and corporates. To elaborate, we have observed that entrepreneurs are not connected among themselves and they also have limited access to some internal networks.
After realizing that we could and should do something about it, we quickly took action and organized SX Happy Hours in 3 different locations (London, San Francisco, Berlin) in the second half of the year.
In these organizations, we brought hundreds of Turks in the tech world that we are in contact with and have access to together with the high-level operators, executives and investors in our network. We have already witnessed that many partnerships, investment talks and customer success stories have emerged from these meetings. As we repeat these in the coming years, we believe it will be truly fruitful for the whole ecosystem.
With Özgün and Mert joining the team and Baha becoming full-time, 2022 has been a true growth year for the ScaleX team.
Özgün actually joined the team a year ago. Even though she joined us in the first days of 2022 and the timeline actually looks very far from now when we look back, it is still impossible not to mention her in this review. Since her arrival, Özgün has been largely responsible for the financials of the fund, investor relations and other legal matters. Looking back, it's hard to acknowledge how we operated without her.
Mert history with ScaleX actually goes back a long way. Mert, one of the 2019 fellows, returned home after 3 years of product management experience at a scaling startup. As of now, he is among us with the title of "Operator-in Residence" and adds value to our portfolio companies in matters such as system building and business development.
Baha has actually been a part of the ScaleX team for 1.5 years, but was able to support part-time because he was also studying at the university. After graduating from his university with two bachelor's degrees, he joined our team full-time as of this fall and is doing incredibly well, especially on the deal sourcing and market research side.
Whilst 2022 has probably been our busiest and most productive year yet, we also found some time to have fun, including a mid-year strategy review and a brilliant offsite where we started laying foundations for the next chapter.
As we wrap up 2022, our team and tribe feel more connected than ever, and we are grateful for every person and family playing a role in what ScaleX has become. Our year in review posts are our moment to say thank you and give credit where it is due: to ScaleX Founders, our beloved team, our incredible LPs, and the many individuals who help to make us all better operators, teammates, friends, and family members.
As we look ahead to the New Year, we’re looking forward to welcoming new fellows and teammates to the team, running our second in person ScaleX Founders Summit and Product Leadership Summit, moving to our new office, and throwing an epic office welcome party (keep your calendars open, folks).
Stay tuned and happy holidays!
See you in 2023…