Students cross into Asia to visit Koc Holding

Cohort 9 visits Koc Holding on the Asian side of Istanbul.

After two business visits earlier today at GE and Pozitron, members of Stetson University Executive MBA program’s Cohort 9 crossed the bridge in Istanbul to the Asia side to visit Koc Holding.

Ms. Funda Gungor, investor relations coordinator for Koc Holding, presented. Koc Holding is a large industrial group in terms of revenue, exports, share in the Istanbul Stock Exchange and number of employees. Koc Holding is in the Top 50 companies in Europe and Top 200 in the World. It has an 85-year history with a very large presence in Turkey and has 9% of the total sales/GDP, controls 11% of the Turkey Exports, and has 15 companies listed publicly.

Koc Holding has grown by an average of 31% in dollars in the last five years. Its focus is energy, automotive, durable goods and finance, which all have high growth potential.

Gungor stressed the importance of balancing risk and return in a portfolio and explained why Koc Holding has diversified its portfolio so that different sectors can thrive at different times within the global economy. She said that Koc Holding differentiates itself by quality and service, not just dollars. It also has the largest distribution network, customer database, leading brands with strong recognition and a diversified portfolio. It has strong net cash of $641 million.

Koc Holding is a third-generation holding company; however, family is only involved at board meetings, not in the day-to-day business dealings.

Cohort 9 students spend time together at Koc Holding.

Koc Holding is looking to export Fiat products to the United States. Cohort 9 student Brian Smith asked how Koc deals with the automotive industry. Gungor answered that the company is very dependent on its partner here and that Koc Holding just acts as the distribution and manufacturing hub, where in the other sectors it has much more control.

Cohort 9 student Gwen Schaefer asked about the company’s database. Gungor confirmed that it contains more than 11 million contacts that Koc tries to upsell and cross-sell to.

Danielle VanCola, Cohort 9 student, was interested in how Koc brands its companies. Many times, said Gungor, Koc uses its logo, and depending on the situation, it may combine that with the existing company name. For instance, when Koc Holding purchased Yapkikredi Bank. Koc uses its logo with the original bank name because of long-standing name recognition.

Members of the Koc Holding Business Team said they were impressed with the company's strategy.

Members of the Koc Holding Business Team (Dianne Honel, Valerie Baker, Maria Chalmers, Rebecca Potter, and VanCola) were impressed with how Koc Holding responded to the oil crises and the contraction in the market of 25% to 30%, as well as how strategic this company is in responding to future growth.

The entire cohort learned that Koc Holding not only has a dominant position in Turkey, but it is also socially responsible through various philanthropic efforts in education, healthcare, and culture and arts through the first private foundation created. In 2011, Koc Holding committed $203.5 Turkish Lira to reduce the impact of operations to improve the environment, showing that the company is here to stay.

“The cohort crossed the bridge and returned to the European side of Istanbul,” said Wendy Lowe, Executive MBA program coordinator, “but we can say we were in Asia!”

Pozitron teaches Cohort 9 about entrepreneurship

Cohort 9 students enjoyed the youthful atmosphere at Pozitron.

Students from Stetson University Executive MBA program’s Cohort 9 got to meet with Firat Isbecer, co-founder and director and business development at Pozitron, earlier today. The highly entrepreneurial mobile app and IT business has been very successful in its short 12-year existence.

Pozitron’s founders came up with the business idea during their final years in college. The business’ mission is to help its clients grow their business with its unique, custom-implemented mobile technology.

The company is self-funded, and from 2006 to 2011, has experienced a revenue growth of 1,100%. Pozitron’s growth has increased by 80% each year, and Isbecer said the company looks for a continuation of this trend in the coming year.

“Cohort members were impressed by the entrepreneurial spirit of the company because Turkey did not embrace entrepreneurs until just recently,” said Wendy Lowe, program coordinator for the Executive MBA program.

The company has grown from a handful of people to more than 60 today, with the average age being only 25. These young engineers are competitively compensated and have access to cutting-edge technology, earn bonuses every six months and receive other perks to stay competitive in the high technology industry that exists today. Pozitron’s client numbers have risen with the release of the iPhone because now, not only do banks want to use its mobile applications, but so do thousands of others. Today, Pozitron doesn’t have to as aggressively sell into new clients as clients are looking to use mobile applications to communicate internally and externally with employees or partners.

Isbecer told the students he believes Pozitron was in the right place at the right time and that the economic downturn actually worked in its favor because competitors who were trying to come to Turkey didn’t have the patience for the economy to sort itself out. This impatience allowed Pozitron to nurture existing relationships, grow new opportunities and find ways to differentiate itself locally. Its focus on large Fortune 500 type of companies, primarily banks, hasn’t been a quick sell. It often takes 11 months in the works with a two-month delivery timeframe to deliver a customized solution.

Pozitron continues to deliver and build long-term relationships. Mobile applications and IT products in general will continue to be an emerging sector, said Isbecer. He added that some measurable risks must be taken to be ultimately successful and to grow! Isbecer said he believes you must be transparent and honest, as well as build a lasting team. “These components will earn integrity and opportunities, especially in Turkey,” he said.

Cohort 9 student Monica Jordan asked how Pozitron handles ongoing training and development.  “Very carefully,” said Isbecer. “As employees want to attend key conferences or workshops, we sponsor them. We will bring in specialists in a technical field as well.”

Student Rebecca Potter asked how the company handles human resources issues. The company has grown so quickly that Isbecer continues to be involved in the interview process of each candidate and even with financial decisions as well. However, he added, the company is scaling to a point that he will start letting go of this segment of the business.

Two other students made observations after the visit was over. Gwen Schaefer said she enjoyed the company’s entrepreneurial spirit, adding that she likes that they have made calculated decisions to prosper, using patience instead of making the wrong decisions in hiring or partnering with a misfit. Student David LaRocque pointed out that in both this business visit and the earlier one to GE, the speakers stressed the importance of using local people to impact local economy.