Gestalt: Accelerator programme supporting creative entrepreneurship
Gestalt is a multi-functional space for innovation and also houses an acceleration programme specifically designed for creative entrepreneurs. Founded in 2014 by Gorkem Cetinkaya, Gestalt is based in Eskisehir, Turkey, and is quickly expanding into universities and incubation centers.
More Than Just a Space
When Gorkem ventured into creating Gestalt he had very little idea of how it would take shape. To open a public space supporting creative entrepreneurship in Turkey wasn't the most fashionable choice; in fact very few people knew what creative entrepreneurship meant. So Gestalt had to be more than just a public co-working space. With this in mind, Gorkem set out to collaborate with three universities and engage with startup communities worldwide. He was also able to make his space stand out by offering one year programmes for designers, an accelerator programme and an incubation centre that is now supported by the local government.
Physical spaces cost a lot to build and maintain so Gorkem realised he needed to build strong working relationships with the local municipality as well as reach out to mentors in his space. When he was working in Istanbul two years ago, he found out about FabLabs from his boss and took upon himself to travel to Germany and other countries to visit these spaces and learn more about how they worked. At first, Gestalt didn’t have a physical venue, it was merely a concept where equally curious minds met up in informal spaces. It was necessary to prove that they could make things happen even without the space to gain trust from supportive organisations. This realisation led to a number of maker movements curated by Gestalt. These have allowed him to truly grasp and respond to the challenges within the local startup community.
Growing as a Person to Grow the Business
The Toolkit helped Gorkem reflect upon himself and consider the way he spoke about and related to his community. This fundamentally altered the progression of his business. Instead of creating just another co-working space, he realised his community needed an accelerator programme. As passionate as he was about the subject, working with others in the group taught him that he needed to be able to communicate his vision in a simple way so everyone could understand and thereby support him. “Saying things in simple terms” has been key to Gestalt’s success, says Gorkem. He says the Toolkit taught him so much and led to him creating a better business model for Gestalt. During the training, other participants from the group even helped him calculate his finances, as he admits numbers aren’t his strong point.
After using the Toolkit, Gorkem saw that there was potentially lots more to his business than he had initially thought. Now he is working with universities on a one year startup acceleration programme and has also established an office space in Dokux Eylul University in collaboration with a professor who is supporting and mentoring the startups chosen for the programme. He’s excited to imbibe an entrepreneurship culture with the 3000 students who are part of the university. He’s also collaborating with a new gallery in Eskeshir to show some of his personal art installations.
Words of Advice
Pay a lot of attention to financial aspects of your business, you need to use money in "the right way", he says. Presenting to investors is a skill in itself. "Pick your relationships" with people. "Before venturing into building anything or even conceptualising your idea, go out there and focus on the community, build trust and loyalty and everyone will want to collaborate with you. Build relationships, not just networks”.