Father Doesn’t Know Best: The Unlikely Rise Of Turkey’s E-Commerce Queen

On a amiable winter morning, Hanzade Dogan-Boyner rushes into her bureau on a fourth building of a Trump Towers in Istanbul, unaware a ancestral city’s skyline. She is wearing a distinguished cardinal-red dress and relating shoes, and after a holding a impulse to adjust herself, a eager grin overtakes her face, that is framed by bobbed brownish-red hair. With a retrogression in full swing, a plunging banking and ongoing credit bust, times are tough in Turkey. But Dogan-Boyner, a owner of Turkey’s largest e-commerce platform, Hepsiburada, is flourishing.

“We demeanour during it as an opportunity,” Dogan-Boyner says. “When a economy slows down, offline retailers tend to deposit less, that will assistance a healthy transition from offline to online.”

Few people shorten this transition improved than Dogan-Boyner. She is now one of a many successful women tech entrepreneurs in a world. For years, her father owned and published one of Turkey’s premier journal franchises, Hurriyet. She was innate with a china spoon, though had she not defied her father and quit her family business, Dogan-Boyner, 46, would not have built what is being called Turkey’s Amazon.com.

Like a Seattle-based e-commerce giant, Hepsiburada is an online seller of all from laptops and valuables to pet food and toys. Her association finished 2018 with $786 million in annual revenues, and so distant in 2019, sales are pacing 40% brazen of final year. Dogan-Boyner is also a owner of Nesine, a money appurtenance that is one of Turkey’s biggest online sports betting businesses. Her e-commerce companies are value an estimated $2 billion today, distant larger than a media organisation built by her father, Aydin Dogan, a former billionaire mostly described as a Rupert Murdoch of Turkey.

“Such a story is tough to come by in Turkey. When we are a daughter of one of a best-known business families we are approaching to work in a family business,” says Muhtar Kent, a former CEO and stream authority of a Coca-Cola Company, a Turkish-American who knows a Dogan family well. “Not start something from blemish and make it some-more successful than a tangible family empire.”

Dogan-Boyner, who’s mostly approach and opinionated, doesn’t like to dwell on how she has eclipsed her father’s business. “My father should not hear this, and we am not commenting on it or removing into any trouble,” she says with a laugh. With her high-energy, tractable demeanor, Dogan-Boyner has mastered a art of sidestepping family-related play and pressure, whether from her interest in Istanbul’s Trump Towers, grown by her family in a chartering partnership, or domestic feverishness compared to her father’s battles with a Turkish supervision and his formidable attribute with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Dogan-Boyner has her possess battles to face. Last year Amazon deserted efforts to buy Hepsiburada—either since of concerns over a Turkish banking or Dogan-Boyner’s hostility to sell, depending on whom we ask—and instead a e-commerce juggernaut entered a Turkish market.

“When Amazon launched a Turkish site, there was kind of a relief,” Dogan-Boyner says. “There was always this question: ‘What will we do if Amazon comes?’ And now it’s a possibility to uncover we give such a good use to a consumers that they don’t need another association to fill a gap.


tarting in 1961, Aydin Dogan, 82, built one of Turkey’s biggest conglomerates and media empires, deliberate a cornerstone of a country’s physical establishment. He had 4 daughters, though never constructed a son. “Who would try 4 times? They were perplexing for a boy,” insists Dogan-Boyner, a second-youngest and many daring of Aydin Dogan’s offspring.  

Each night a family would wait for Aydin to get home to eat dinner. “My father used to lay during a conduct of a cooking table, and when Hanzade was immature she done a vast emanate that she was going to lay during a conduct of a table,” Dogan-Boyner’s sister Vuslat recalls. “My father didn’t wish to give his space to her, though she was realistic about it.”

One subject of contention that emerged during a cooking list was Dogan-Boyner’s insistence that she investigate abroad. The answer from her father was a organisation no. So, Dogan Boyer personally complicated English for dual years instead of scheming for a Turkish college opening exam. She afterwards intentionally inebriated a hearing by withdrawal it blank. “My father was watchful outside,” Dogan-Boyner says, recalling a day of a examination.

With Turkish universities now out of a running, Dogan-Boyner got her approach and headed to London, initial to take a one-year denunciation preparation course for general students and afterwards to attend a London School of Economics. She defied her father again by staying in London for dual years after graduation to join Goldman Sachs in 1994 as an investment banker, operative in a record and media group. “He wasn’t lustful of it,” Dogan-Boyner says. “Everybody thinks since we have this father that he would assistance me get a job, though for me it has always been a opposite. we have to initial overcome him and afterwards get my way.”

“My father used to lay during a conduct of a cooking table, and when Hanzade was immature she done a vast emanate that she was going to lay during a conduct of a table.”

After earning her M.B.A. from Columbia University in 1999, Dogan-Boyner finally returned home to Turkey and assimilated a family business, Dogan Holding, where her sisters were already working. She never doubted she would finish adult there. In a U.S. a dot-com bang was giving birth to disrupters from Yahoo to Google, and Dogan-Boyner had vast ideas. “My prophesy was a association needs to spin into a 21st-century communications association from a normal media group,” she says. “Everything is going digital and we need to invest.”

Dogan-Boyner started regulating an Internet group, Dogan Online, within Dogan Holding, though had problem removing resources for her ideas from headquarters. Her father nominally upheld her efforts, though Dogan-Boyner bumped adult opposite stodgy comparison executives inside a company. She wanted to manage a transition of a newspapers to digital and also to deposit in separate online enterprises with a bargain that some of them would work out and others would not. Risk-taking in a demeanour of a tech try entrepreneur wasn’t in Dogan Holding’s DNA. Fat journal margins were a norm, mostly since government delicately watched costs.

With scarcely any move, Dogan-Boyner was being questioned about budgets and projections and money flow. Things became even stressful after her investment in a origination of Internet use provider disappointed. Then a Internet batch burble burst—giving her detractors in a association even some-more fuel. “I was 100% certain behind afterwards that newspapers would not last. They were shouting during me,” Dogan-Boyner says. “My father was always between his executives and me. He didn’t always take my side.”

Her father confirms a tension. “My personal attribute with Hanzade has always been unequivocally tighten though equally challenging,” Aydin Dogan says. “Since early childhood, Hanzade has always been independent-minded and always wanted to make her possess decisions. When she worked in a holding association she always came brazen with innovative ideas, though a structure was not to accept uninformed and maybe unsure ideas during that time.”

In 2004, Dogan-Boyner wanted to strike out on her own, and for a daughter of one Turkey’s wealthiest magnates, that meant spending $10 million of inherited family supports to squeeze digital resources she had begun to rise during Dogan Holding. Her 3 sisters also corroborated a purchase, any chipping in $10 million of their inheritances. Dogan Holding’s house was happy to unpack a assets.

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Dogan-Boyner set adult offices in a little Istanbul apartment, though it wasn’t a purify break. She kept her pursuit as conduct of a section that ran a smaller newspapers owned by Dogan Holding, while also handling Dogan Online. After a few years, Dogan-Boyner satisfied that her online try would never work unless she dedicated herself to it full-time, so 2008 she quit her father’s business.  

“You were innate into it and if we leave it’s like withdrawal your family,” she explains, adding that she loves and admires her father. “It was painful, though we knew a intensity and wanted to do it.”


he usually company Dogan-Boyner ever purchased was Infoshop, a little online seller of computers she snapped adult in 2000. She altered a name to Hepsiburada, that in Turkish means “everything is here.” The core product difficulty of a association has always been electronics. It bought register and sole it from a room in Istanbul. Laptops were primarily a biggest seller. Eventually a association branched out into other categories, like books, baby toys and consumer finished goods. Its biggest aspirant for years was an eBay associate as a vast Turkish retailers struggled to adjust to a Internet.

Hepsiburada also usually introduced new services, like easy return, credit label storage, same-day smoothness in Istanbul and some other cities, and reviews. It built Turkey’s biggest e-commerce room and invested heavily in last-mile logistics. There is also a remuneration complement identical to WeChat’s WeChatPay called Hepsipay. “The approach we do business has altered though a fundamentals are a same: selection, on-time delivery, services, rival prices,” Dogan-Boyner says. “Growth was always steady, around 30% a year.”

Hepsiburada has also avoided regulating a huge financial waste compared with other fast-growing tellurian online retailers like South Korea’s Coupang. The association unequivocally started to scale in 2015, when Dogan-Boyner non-stop adult a height to third-party merchants. For years, she was endangered that outward merchants would intermix a good repute Hepsiburada had built with Turkish consumers. To assistance financial a pierce and a converging of a warehouses, Hepsiburada sole a 25% interest to private equity organisation Abraaj Capital for around $110 million in 2015. The third-party merchants supercharged expansion and now comment for 65% of Hepsiburada’s sell transactions.

“Hepsiburada is a business designed around Turkey, regulating e-commerce collection to do what a Turks need in their economy and joining entrepreneurs in Turkey with their patron market.”

“Hepsiburada is a business designed around Turkey, regulating e-commerce collection to do what a Turks need in their economy and joining entrepreneurs in Turkey with their patron market,” says Glenn Hutchins, a tech private equity noble who partly grew adult in a Middle East before cofounding Silver Lake Partners. “It is not a duplicate of something else like Amazon, though Hanzade’s possess entrepreneurial success.”

For years, Dogan-Boyner was both CEO and authority of Hepsiburada, though she recently named a new CEO, Murat Emirdag, to concentration on day-to-day operations. Though not a poignant trend nonetheless in Turkey, Dogan-Boyner has done farrago a priority during her company. Disappointed that usually 0.2% of a third-party merchants on a Hepsiburada height were owned by women, Dogan-Boyner designed a module to assistance women entrepreneurs. Hepsiburada trains women who wish to sell products on a height with digital selling seminars, onboarding assistance and giveaway promotion, including on a profitable home page. Hepsiburada’s algorithms even approach consumers to products being sole by women entrepreneurs. Once a woman-owned business hits certain income thresholds, advantages are separated and new women are brought into a program. 

“This has a financial cost to us, though it’s unequivocally creation a disproportion in women’s lives,” Dogan-Boyner says.

Hepsiburada is not a usually business Dogan-Boyner founded. There have been others, some of that have failed. One of her best ventures has been online sports betting, an attention she was not primarily eager about. But eventually she relented and motionless to go all in, combining Nesine and receiving a Turkish license. Nesine does not run a possess sports book in a heavily regulated Turkish betting market; instead it earns a 9% elect for any gamble it facilitates for a government-designated bookmaker. That means reduction reward, though also no risk.

Since a first in 2007, Nesine has turn a biggest online sports betting representative in Turkey, generating some $70 million or so in annual revenue. The association was quicker than a foe to adjust to a mobile platform, that now accounts for a immeasurable infancy of a betting transactions. It offers video streaming of many of a critical live games and is building a abounding online community. One pivotal has been subsidy influencers who share their opinions on games and other sporting events.

“We combined a possess celebrities. Our business select us for that feature,” Dogan-Boyner says. “We took them to radio and TV programs. They became unequivocally popular.”

Dogan-Boyner and Hepsiburada are now targeting general markets where Turkish products are in high demand, expanding Hepsiburada to countries like Germany that have a vast Turkish population, and Russia, and regions like a Middle East and north Africa. “When we demeanour during those markets, we contend ‘can we move a preference to those markets that they can’t find internally” and we can,” says Dogan-Boyner, mentioning a strength of Turkish brands. Hepsiburada facilities products from a likes of Kahve Dunyasi and Penti. “Historically, Turkey is a overpass between a dual continents and it is a healthy trail for us.”