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MY JOURNEY INTO ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Starting an entrepreneurial life in a different country. By Furkan Karayel

· Top Stories,Personal Stories

"All progress occurs because people dare to be themselves."

Tech expert Furkan Karayel tells her inspirational story for Self Starter Magazine 2018

The challenges and advantages of being a Turkish woman in Irish business.

Hi, I`m Furkan. I am a tech-savvy woman and always has been ever since I was a little girl back home in Turkey.
With a software engineering masters degree from Athlone IT and 10 years of experience working for and with multinational companies, my enthusiasm for my job has never subsided.
and in 2013 I won an Innovation Award for best creative product design ideas.

I couldn't find a female role model for myself when I was young, therefore I always wanted to become one and empower girls like me in the technology sector so I set up a non-profit project which inspires girls to enter STEM careers in cooperation with strong and successful businesswomen as role models.

Knowing people and what they like has always been part of my skill set as well as product management and the desire to drive a digital product from A to Z. In 2016 I decided to put that valuable skill to good use and I founded Giftoven. Giftoven is an online luxury gift shopping website, based on the profile the clients created for the person they want to gift. It is a new corporate and retail gift concept where clients provide the gift receiver’s profile online and specially selected and packed luxury gifts by Giftoven are delivered with premium service quality.

One day, when I was invited to a friend's birthday party,

I started panicking, as I had no

time to find the perfect gift for her.

Tech expert Furkan Karayel tells her inspirational story for Self Starter Magazine 2018

From a young age, I have always been very interested in both business and technology.

When I was 15, I worked in my father's currency exchange bureau in a small town, called Giresun in Turkey during the summer holidays and I used to take his place when he was out on errands.

I just knew that I was going to have my own business from those days. Although I couldn't find a female tech entrepreneur as a role model for myself, I always wanted to become one and empower girls like me on this journey.
I asked myself the question, how could I get there? What would my role model do, with limited resources, if she was in my shoes?

The first thing was to learn English, to be able to reach out to international resources, so that's what I did.
My journey to Ireland started in 2005 when I came to Athlone IT software engineering department as an exchange student from Istanbul. A few years later, in 2008, I finally landed my first dream job, in Ericsson Athlone, just a few days after my final exams and I worked in multinational telecom companies for 10 years as a software engineer.
Working in the corporate world was a great experience, however, I was very interested in product management so that I could drive a software product from A to Z.

To experience this, I decided to start a side project, while still working full time in my software job.

One day, when I was invited to a friend's birthday party, I started panicking as I had no time to find the perfect gift for her. At that moment it dawned on me, I needed someone that I could trust to pick out something that was both beautiful and within my budget.

So, Giftoven was born.

Giftoven is an online platform which I have created that finds the perfect gifts for clients of companies of any size, based on the client profiles they provide. In today's busy world, we help simplify the gifting process for you without losing the personal touch by wrapping them beautifully, attaching a card, and sending them to your clients for you as part of our service. With this, our service, we save the companies, on average 2,5 hours per gift. This is time you can instead spend on your business.

In addition to that, Giftoven also has a 100% customer satisfaction rate.

Tech expert Furkan Karayel tells her inspirational story for Self Starter Magazine 2018

I have experienced many advantages of being a Turkish woman in Irish business. As there are not many of us, people can recognize and remember us easily. This adds a huge awareness to my business which is absolutely great. Similarly, it gives me an opportunity to open a new route for other Turkish women or expats from different countries who want to start a business in Ireland. Personally, I am always happy to share my experiences on this at different occasions. I also strongly believe that we bring a unique and authentic flavour into Irish business society as well as with our service experience from home. In addition to this, being a member of two well-established business organizations (WIBN and Dublin Chamber), I always feel supported and especially welcomed by my Irish counterparts.

Besides many advantages, it’s no surprise that there will be some challenges too.

Laws and regulations for starting a business in a new country can be challenging depending on your familiarity with them when you come to Ireland. In most cases, you require taking more legal advice and consultations than local businesses. Another challenge can be building customer trust for your business, as it all depends on how well you know the characteristics of your customers and how to approach them.

If you haven’t lived in the country very long, engaging with and getting to know your target customers must be your starting point.

The trick to gaining confidence in
a new country​​

1. Be well prepared: Do your homework.
Study any information you can access beforehand. Discover opportunities around you.

2. Surround yourself with positive people:
Spend your valuable time with people who support and inspires you.

3. Communicate: Engage with people.

Build a strong communication bridge with them.
Offer help.

4. Be open to challenges: Identify challenges and get your possible solutions ready.

5. Embrace diversity: Start from embracing
your authentic self and then appreciate diversity.

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