Harvard Dropout Thrives as Turkey E-Commerce Lures Amazon

Markafoni Founder and CEO Sina Afra.
Photographer: Johannes Simon/Getty Images 
In a former belt factory on the outskirts of Istanbul, Sina Afra and his 500 employees are building what the German-raised Turk says will be the country’s first billion-dollar e-trade company.
Afra’s Markafoni, the second most-visited members-only shopping network in the world, is a frontrunner in an industry that grew almost 60 percent in Turkey last year and has attracted investment from EBay Inc. (EBAY), Amazon.com Inc., Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers,Naspers Ltd. (NPN) and Tiger Global.
His main competitor is Harvard Business School dropout Demet Mutlu. Her Trendyol.com reached $100 million in revenue less than 18 months after going online. Both are representative of a crop of young Turkish entrepreneurs who are returning from abroad to lead a transformation of their country, with its China-like economic growth, from a low-cost manufacturer on the fringes of Europe to digital dynamo.
“All the trends are pointing in the right direction in Turkey,” Aileen Lee, a partner at Kleiner Perkins (ZZISK), which together with Tiger Global invested $50 million in Trendyol.com, said in a phone interview from Menlo Park, California. The venture capital firm counts Zynga Inc. (ZNGA) and Groupon Inc. (GRPN) among its progeny.
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