Demet Mutlu, the founder of Turkey’s largest fashion e-commerce platform, dropped out of Harvard Business School’s MBA programme in 2009 to launch Trendyol. Since then, Trendyol has scaled to become the largest fashion e-commerce site in Turkey and MENA region, with more than 800 million site visits a year and over 16 million members. Trendyol had raised over $35 million in external funding from venture capitalists including Tiger Global and Silicon Valley venture capitalist firm KPCB until, in 2018, China’s Alibaba Group became a major shareholder through a $750 million investment.
Mutlu studied at New York University, where she graduated with the highest GPA in the economics department. She spent time working in brand management for companies such as Altria, Procter & Gamble and Reckitt Benckiser, before beginning her MBA at Harvard Business School in 2008. After discovering Turkey’s online shopping potential, Mutlu dropped out of Harvard to start Trendyol, bootstrapping $300,000 of her own funds to launch the fashion portal.
Trendyol does 60 percent of all online fashion sales in Turkey, working with over 2000 brands via its marketplace and offering its own private labels. The site currently has over 13 million customers, reporting an annual growth of 90 percent.
An advocate for Turkish start-ups, Mutlu has invested in Peak Games and is part of the Young Global Leaders World Economic Forum. Her business acumen has garnered her international recognition — Mutlu attended the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos whilst still in her 20s and in 2016 was named a Young Global Leader by the WEF, along with Mark Zuckerberg and Marissa Mayer.