Judge Business School Alumna Goes From Sweden to Cambridge to Turkey For Dream Business
A Cambridge Judge alumna travelled around the world to ultimately pursue a crowdfunding business. Louise Westerlind (Cambridge MBA, 2008) grew up in Sweden and is now co-founder of rewards-based crowdfunding platform Fongogo, based in Istanbul, Turkey.
Fongogo was launched in November 2013 and today it’s Turkey’s largest crowdfunding platform through funds raised and website traffic. Fongogo was founded by Louise, Ali Cebi and Ali Tirkes, and now has a team of six people.
Louise, who just came back from Startup Turkey – the country’s biggest start-up conference where Fongogo made it to the final – took time off to share some of her experiences, originally published on Judge’s news site.
How did you get into crowdfunding?
I felt it was an untapped market opportunity. Aside from the start-up and Internet marketplace experiences, I’ve been involved in the microfinance field since 2005. In 2006 the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank in Bangladesh “for their efforts to create economic and social development from below”. These events triggered an interest among the general public and me personally.
Why in Turkey?
While living in Hong Kong (where I was running an online gift experience business) I frequently traveled to Istanbul to meet key players in the start-up community. After a close friend’s wedding there I simply fell in love with the place. However, the seeds were planted earlier: during my Cambridge MBA a Turkish classmate and good friend was speaking about the economic development in the region, and in December 2012 I decided to give it a go.