Life flows faster with each day… Which ideas or inventions stand out in this rush? Surely, those who can be intertwined with technology. Fethi Sabancı Kamışlı, the co-founder of Esas Ventures, finds groundbreaking start-up projects in the entrepreneurial ecosystem almost like an explorer. His inspiration on the journey is innovation and change… Driving in the middle of the desert in his car or in a moment of cultural discovery in Silicon Valley, he tries to come across the best idea. We asked the young business person, “Driving the car or being a passenger?” Here is the answer of a modern time explorer, Fethi Sabancı Kamışlı.…
How do you build a future for yourself by working and exploring?
I now have a fund that invests in technology around the world. I started this by exploring. I’d never been to Silicon Valley until 4-5 years ago. A few years ago, there was a conference there, and I thought, “I should go and see what it’s like.” I really left 3 weeks later. Of course, I brought a suit. Normally, that’s what we are used to, but their culture is a T-shirt and a hoodie. It was a bit odd when I walked into the hall. After all, I had discovered a new culture, a culture that will be part of my life every day from now on…
Considering the time when you lived in America and the UK, what were the anecdotes that were instrumental in changing your life at that time?
I studied in Boston in the USA for about 4 years and then worked in England for about the same. The most important contribution to living abroad is actually getting out of your comfort zone. My first investment in the UK had failed. The guy we worked with turned out to be a fraud, and then he disappeared. I was so upset and I was like, “How am I going to tell my dad, my mom?” It turned out that my family was happy that my first investment was relatively low budget and that I would learn the necessary lessons. I guess it was very effective that I learned this lesson from the start.
“I think it was an 11-hour ride…”
What is the thought that always motivates you to start a new day?
I’d say learning and discovering.
What does the road mean to you?
Excitement, obscurity, adventure…
Do you remember the first time you traveled alone?
I don’t really remember it because I have traveled so much. I mean, I’ve been to 6 countries in the last 3 months before March 2020.
So, what was the longest car ride you’ve ever been on?
Yeah, I went from San Francisco to Las Vegas 2 years ago. I think it was an 11-hour ride… We made this journey to pass through the desert. It was fun, but I wouldn’t do it again. (Laughs)
What do you think traveling adds to your personality?
Traveling certainly adds vision to a person. The more you travel and see, the more you learn. Sometimes travel can create important milestones in your life. For example, when I first went to Silicon Valley, I had never thought about entering the Venture Capital sector. My intention was just to see the system, the culture there. I was so impressed that I came back and founded Esas Ventures, which has investments around the world.
What determines your travel route?
It usually depends on work. But because I’m a die-hard Beşiktaş fan, I’m scheduling my travels according to Besiktas’ games.
Driving the car or being a passenger?
Being the passenger but choosing the destination, being a passenger of a self-driving car.
“My inspiration is definitely traveling, that’s why I love my job.“
The digital world is an important part of your job. So, how do you digitize the idea
It’s actually more part of my life than my job. I mean, for example, recently Zoom meetings have become very popular. But I’ve been talking to companies around the world via Zoom for 2 years.
What are the anecdotes that will gravitate you into a start-up project you will invest in?
Vision, entrepreneurs who know what they want and are prepared…
How do a businessperson’s inspiration from life and the streets reflect on their work? What are your inspirations?
My inspiration is definitely traveling, that’s why I love my job. In fact, when I go to San Francisco, I say “I am going on a vacation.” One day, even my mom was like, “What, you’re not going to work?”
What is your motivation for creating new ideas?
I guess it’s innovation.
What do you advise to young entrepreneurs? What’s your first tip?
Listen to the advice, but don’t apply them all, the decision and the idea are yours. The most important thing in entrepreneurship is vision. I mean, they should be able to imagine 5 years from now, not two days from now.
Among the partnerships, what is the most special brand for you and why?
Definitely Les Benjamins and Beşiktaş.
“Im investing in change”
Who are you inspired by, in terms of the definition, “modern time explorer”?
Do you have moments when you slow down in a world that’s getting faster and faster?
Of course, it happens, and then I’ll take a few days off thinking, better none than slow.
What’s the lesson you’ve learned in your career?
There is this great saying that has really motivated me in life: “90% of success is just showing up.” I mean, if you discover enough and you’re in the right place at the right time then the rest is easy.
How would you describe the importance of change in the modern world? Is change an
important anecdote in your journey of discovery?
It’s one of the most important anecdotes. I invest in change, nothing is more important! I liked this quote in a book I read recently: “Smell your cheese often so you can know when it’s stale.” So it actually says to keep an eye on the change, replace your cheese if necessary.
What do you see yourself doing 20 years from now?
I believe that there should be a major change or innovation in a person’s life every 3-4 years related to their work or career. It’s not constantly changing jobs, of course, but there must be decisions and steps that will take you to the next level related to your own business.
Let’s say it is your day off… What are you doing?
Now in the new normal everything is mixed up, there’s not a day left when we don’t work. But I usually rest, see my friends and work out.