Getir: the jewel in the crown of Turkish tech



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This year, the hot new idea in online retail started in a place you least expected. Not in London, not in Los Angeles but in Istanbul. All over Europe tech investors have poured billions of dollars into start-ups delivering groceries in just 10 minutes or less. You’ve probably seen or heard about Gorillas, Weezy or Dija, which have sprung up in various European cities. However, the trailblazer in this space was the Turkish app Getir which is now valued at $7.5bn. Yet the road to success for Getir was far from smooth, back in 2018, according to Getir’s co-founder Nazım Salur said that no venture capitalists would return calls from a Turkish start-up.

A lot can change in a year. According to Airnow Data sources, Getir’s app has seen over a 360% increase in downloads globally on Android compared to this time last year. It has been a phenomenal turnaround for Getir, but this didn’t occur in isolation; it can be seen as part of a broader shift in the Turkish tech landscape which has been happening over a longer period.

While e-commerce penetration has risen from 3.5% to 10% in the last three years, the effects of the pandemic have sped up online retail and digitalisation in Turkey just like everywhere else in the world. Still, there is a deeper reason behind Turkey’s recent success in creating new apps that are attracting some serious investment.

Over the past ten years, smaller businesses in the tech space have been able to thrive in Turkey as politicians have been cracking down on global players such as Amazon and Facebook in favour of homegrown companies.

This, combined with the fact that more and more studios are being founded in the country due to its lower development costs, means that homegrown companies like Getir are reaping the benefits and have grown big enough to become international in their own right. Recently, Getir announced that it was moving its services to London and other European cities, and the Airnow Data platform shows that 10% of new downloads are now coming from the UK.