Proudly originating from Mersin, Turkey, I've embraced the spirit of a global citizen. My journey led me to reside in Dublin, Ireland, for five years, followed by a year in Tallinn, Estonia. Currently, I am living in Helsinki, Finland.
I serve as a Managing Director at Grow in EMEA and follow startup deals to invest and collaborate.
Well, there were many mistakes on my path. I didn't know how to create a company, manage people, or measure metrics to grow. All this is summed up in the time I have wasted but learned. Now, I am sharing what I learned from the ups and downs of life with the curious ones, and still learning from them.
I am a seasoned business professional with a strategic focus on the European, Turkish, and Middle Eastern markets. As a financial investor, I hold strategic positions in various scale-up tech companies/startups and possess real estate assets across different countries.
In 2015, I founded Grow in EMEA, a company specializing in tech-related investments, real estate ventures, and portfolio management, primarily concentrated in East Europe, Turkey, and the Middle East. Our activities include direct real estate investments on multiple continents and comprehensive asset management.
My team at Grow in EMEA offers market access services in the Baltics, Turkey, and the U.A.E., alongside providing investment advisory services for real estate options.
Simultaneously, I maintain a focus on the tech domain, investing in retail-tech and fintech SaaS solutions for both B2B and B2C markets, as well as real estate options in developing markets with ROI targets.
I am an officially accredited and licensed angel investor by the Turkish Ministry of Finance, with license number of BKY2022000850.
Before entering the investment landscape, I held the role of Director of Turkish Speaking Territory at LinkedIn EMEA Headquarters in Dublin, Ireland. My prior experience includes positions at SAP AG and IBM in Turkey both on sales and business development.
I am also a frequent speaker at local and global technology events. Notable keynotes include presentations at ARAB NET in Lebanon, IT Arena in Ukraine, Rise Up Summit in Egypt, Startup Festival in Malta, NEXT in Germany, e-Estonia in Estonia, and EMERGE.
Additionally, I have spoken at closed corporate events for Roche, VESTEL, SAP AG, DenizBank, Turkish Economy Ministry, Turkish Exporters Assembly, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TUSAŞ), Bakioğlu Holding, and AGT in Turkey.
Currently, I reside in Helsinki, Finland.
Ali Rıza Babaoğlan is a Computer Engineer and a Businessperson from Turkey, living in Jätkäsaari, Helsinki, Finland now.
Ali Rıza Babaoğlan stands as a seasoned business leader and executive, wielding a wealth of 15 years of diverse experience within the digital and commercial spheres of the IT industry.
His expertise extends across both the public and private sectors of the UK&I and Turkey, where he adeptly managed on-demand (cloud) and on-premise offerings. In his current capacity as an active entrepreneur, Ali channels his energies into substantial investments within the technology sector through his company, Grow in EMEA. His present roles include being a shareholder and esteemed board member of several companies, all fervently dedicated to advancing the new economy.
Notably, Ali has navigated three successful exits since 2015, a testament to his astute business acumen. Before venturing into angel investments, Ali contributed to LinkedIn EMEA HQ, where he served as the Director of Turkish Speaking Territory in Dublin, Ireland. Prior experiences include roles at SAP and IBM mostly in sales and business development areas. He is an engaged member of significant non-profit business organizations in Turkey, such as TÜSİAD and the Outbound Investments Business Council of DEİK.
His commitment to civic engagement is further highlighted by his pivotal role in the Founding Board of the Demokrasi ve Atılım Partisi (DEVA Political Party) established under the leadership of Ali Babacan on March 9th, 2020. Assuming roles as the Vice President in charge of the Public Relations Unit, and as a Member of the President Board and Board of Directors, Ali's leadership was revalidated by the delegation in the 1st Congress at Ankara on December 29th, 2020. However, his journey with the party concluded on July 19th, 2021, following his voluntary resignation from the political world (details here).
Ali Rıza Babaoğlan, originally from Mersin, Turkey, embarked on a remarkable educational journey marked by excellence and achievement. Born in Diyarbakır, Turkey, Ali's family, civil servants, were stationed in the eastern region.
His educational path started in Diyarbakır and continued through Mersin 3 Ocak Primary School, leading to graduation from Mersin Yusuf Kalkavan Anatolian High School. Ali then pursued a degree in Computer Engineering at Ankara Başkent University from 2004 to 2008, supported by a full scholarship.
Even before graduating, Ali actively contributed as a "Student Employee," significantly contributing to the development of Microsoft Office 2007 Product Family. His proactive approach earned him the Best Microsoft Student Partner award in Turkey.
Post-graduation, Ali's talents gained international recognition. Selected among the "75 Most Promising Students" in the EMEA region by the IBM Europe Center, he attended Innovation Training at IBM's Zürich Central Research Laboratory in Switzerland in 2008.
His journey took a competitive turn when invited by the Turkish Ministry of Education to join the inaugural Turkish National Technology Team for the Euro Skills 2008 – European Informatics Olympics in the Netherlands. Representing Turkey in "Information Technology and Communications," Ali presented to the Dutch Queen.
Furthering his education, Ali earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Bilkent University with another full scholarship. Ali Rıza Babaoğlan's educational narrative is one of continuous achievement, resilience, and a commitment to excellence that has laid the foundation for his multifaceted professional journey.
Since the early 1990s, Ali Rıza Babaoğlan has been at the forefront of embracing technology and emerging economic trends. This commitment deepened when he relocated to Dublin, Ireland, to spearhead LinkedIn's efforts for the Turkish Market. From this vantage point, he actively participated in numerous local and global events, focusing on the business and social issues of both Turkey and the European Union.
His impactful contributions played a crucial role in supporting relations between Turkey and the European Union during Turkey's Candidacy process, which had faced a freeze after 2010.
During Ireland's EU Presidency in 2013, Ali's efforts, particularly those of the Turkish Community in Ireland, facilitated the opening of "Chapter 22: Regional Policy and Coordination of Structural Instruments" to negotiations. This breakthrough followed the last chapter discussions in 2010 on the "Chapter 12: Food Safety, Veterinary, and Phytosanitary Policy" topic. In 2013, Ali actively supported the launch of the Visa Liberalization Dialogue and the signing of the EU – Turkey Readmission Agreement, underscoring his commitment to these diplomatic processes.
Subsequently, Ali participated in prominent global events, including the EYE 2014 event in France, Strasbourg, and the 6th European Innovation Forum in Brussels, Belgium, where he shared his insights on the Information Technology Positioning of Europe.
On the home front, Ali was invited to several events in Turkey, including the New Digital World Summit in Istanbul, organized by the Turkish Ministry of Industry and Technology. He engaged in round-table discussions with the Minister of Economy and spoke at various Ministry events.
His commitment to education and knowledge dissemination led Ali to visit more than 50 universities in Turkey, delivering speeches to over 10,000 students on diverse topics. As his influence grew, invitations from decision-makers and the political sphere followed. This eventually led him to actively participate in the Demokrasi ve Atılım Partisi (DEVA Political Party), established under the leadership of Ali Babacan on March 9th, 2020. Ali remained dedicated to this cause until his resignation in July 2021.
Notably, Ali Rıza Babaoğlan is recognized as a fellow of Stiftung Mercator for the Turkey Europe Future Forum, further solidifying his commitment to shaping the future landscape of the region.
Impact on Social Side:
Even during his studies, Ali Rıza Babaoğlan's commitment to social causes was evident. He volunteered for UNDP Turkey, actively participating in activities aimed at promoting gender equality and women's empowerment. His dedication extended internationally, spending a month in Kenya with the UNDP MDG 2015 program, observing and reporting on initiatives fostering empowerment, particularly in Nairobi and Mombasa.
As a Professional Speaker, Ali has graced numerous local and global events, sharing his insights on technological transformation and the new economy. His speaking engagements took him to key technology events in Lebanon, Ukraine, Dubai, Egypt, Malta, Estonia and Germany. ARAB NET in Lebanon, IT Arena in Ukraine, Rise Up Summit in Egypt, Startup Festival in Malta, NEXT in Germany, e-Estonia in Estonia, and EMERGE.
Beyond the podium, Ali contributed as an Advisory Board Member of Yenibirlider Derneği, focusing on transferring new generation leadership models to young people amidst a world rapidly changing with technology.
Ali's impact also reached closed corporate circles, where he served as a private speaker at events hosted by TAI, Roche, VESTEL, Turkish Economy Ministry, Turkish Exporters Assembly, Bakioğlu Holding, and AGT. His multifaceted engagements reflect not only his expertise but also his commitment to fostering positive change on both global and local fronts.
Awards & Recognitions:
Ali Rıza Babaoğlan's early career is adorned with prestigious accolades, underscoring his exceptional contributions:
- Microsoft Recognition: Ali earned the "Best Microsoft Student Partner Award" from Microsoft in 2007, a testament to his exemplary work and dedication in the technology realm.
- IBM Accolade: He received the esteemed "BSRE Award" from IBM in 2008, recognizing his outstanding achievements and impact within the company.
- JCI Honor: His remarkable contributions were further acknowledged with the "Ten Outstanding Young Person Award" from JCI in 2009, highlighting his significant positive impact on society.
Babaoğlan’s name is still on the list of “World’s Most Successful Young People” on Wikipedia as a result of his studies.
I was lucky enough to convince great founders on joining their journeys. Mostly, I'm a quiet name on the cap tables and cannot take credits. All success is squarely due to their hard work and vision.
My proud list of startups, I already invested in. Public details of the deals are here 📈
the fast, affordable way to ride
digital banking services
🧮 REM People
tech-powered retail insight solutions
time to solve financial crime
sales field automation tool
☕ Kahve Gibi Kahve
single serve coffee bag producer
monitor your business with improved cloud dashboard
🇪🇪 Welcome Center
find companies in Estonia & get deeper insights
♥️ iLove VPN
vpn service for digital nomads
🏘️ A3 Grup Gayrimenkul
land investor in Turkey, Dubai, and Europe
I like feeding on different sources to understand real effects, reading handy reports to simplify the complex world details, and sharing all with my inner network since 2015.
Below are the public ones worth checking:
Feel free to reach out to me on topics relevant to startup discussions, market access, investment, and speaking inquiries.