A Woman Entrepreneur from Turkey on her way to Silicon Valley
Tugba Ensari is a successful woman who contributes to her family budget with her start-up named Toobeto. I met with this wonderful woman at an entrepreneurship programme in Istanbul this year. She has a mobile application that aims to inform shopping lovers about discounts and other opportunities more easily.
I interviewed Tugba and talked about her journey.
You had worked at a company for 11 years, then took a 10-year break and then decided to start a business. How did you start your journey?
Between 1996 and 2007 I had worked at a corporate company in Istanbul and I gained skills and experience in marketing, training, electronic systems, customer relationship, planning and project development. It was like a school to me. Then I decided to leave the corporate life to get married and care for my son. For the next 10 years I lived in two different cities with my husband and got the chance to live in the USA for a year for language training.
During this time, I had a plenty of time to think about myself and the things that make me happy. I realized that my biggest dream was to work in a digital or a technological area. I moved to different cities with my husband, and we had many different shopping experiences. My husband, who works for an international software company, encouraged me to start a business that would support my shopping ideas.
What was your business idea? Could you please tell us more about Toobeto?
I have always been the type of person asking questions and bothering the people around me with regard to where I can find the best and cheapest stuff. It came to a point where the people around me started to tell me on their own when they found something nice and cheap, without me asking anymore. There is always someone that influences us in our lives, and in turn we may end up influencing other people. Being able to follow a person that influences you, to get advice from someone else; to be able to ask questions, is what I decided to take into the social media world. It’s a type of consumer solidarity. You post information that is beneficial for your followers. It is better to give than to take. What this is called on the social media platform is ‘influencer marketing’. You don’t have to be a blogger or a celebrity. It could be a housewife from the Anatolian area or any average person from anywhere in the world.
No matter where in the world you are, a sincere recommendation will reach everyone thanks to Toobeto. Toobeto will be an inspiration for most people by taking them to different places in their area of interest.
What kind of obstacles did you come across? Were there any obstacles because of you being a female?
Absolutely, there are still people who are confused even in the 21st century. I mentioned before that I took advantage of my husband’s network. We were at a business meeting for Toobeto with a company once and they turned to my husband to get the confirmation instead of me.
What are your suggestions for other women that have dreams?
When talking about innovation, the name Sirin Elci comes to many people’s minds. During one of our conversations, she said that I had an entrepreneurial soul. Toobeto wasn’t my first job idea but it was my first job attempt. My ideas until Toobeto weren’t bad ideas but I had to do thorough research on my ideas. When you want to make your dreams real, there are always people that lower your motivation and people that don’t believe in you. You always have to believe in yourself and follow your dreams and don’t listen to anyone who has negative ideas. If you believe in what you are doing then there is light.
How did you manage your budget?
In the beginning we had a fixed budget, and it changed as we progressed. We noticed that we needed much more money so we always made it our priority first to manage the budget.
How did your spouse and loved ones affect you in this time?
I would like to talk about two my most precious supporters. My lovely spouse Mehmet Ensari was my biggest supporter. He has been working in the IT field as a professional director and that had a big influence on me. He is my chief counsellor. He opened up his network for me in the beginning but he really didn't intervene. But as time passed, he started to be in the picture more as he saw how powerful this social network was. His cofounder title is actually not enough for him anymore. Zeynep, who is a relative of my husband, helped with the beta testing with Toobeto. She gave really good feedback. Due to the age difference, we saw our members’ profiles through Zeynep first. Zeynep’s feedback was that she had a lot of joy from sharing information on Toobeto. The crew during the Beta testing started to sign on to Toobeto to see what Zeynep posted every day – she was Toobeto’s first influencer.
What are your steps after this?
We are done with the first step of completing Toobeto. We are gaining more and more followers at the moment. When we reach our goal on number of followers, we will be going to Silicon Valley California to get our seed money to embark on the 2nd and 3rd phases of the project, which we have already planned. Toobeto will fill a space in the shopping world of all consumers and commercial networks.