Mehmet Cihangir – Founder of Wizard Istanbul

[quote style=”boxed”]To emphasise: I fail till I succeed, so I love this cliché: “you can’t win if you don’t play!”[/quote]

Mehmet Cihangir is the Founder of Wizard Istanbul –  an online business developer, social media expert and Istanbul lover. As founder of Web Girisim, a tourism-based online business consultancy firm, he creates and executes online projects for hotels, travel agencies and destinations. Outside of the tourism industry, he has worked in the fields of betting and sports marketing. He was marketing manager of the world’s first social betting website,, and was also the founder of the Facebook Taraftarsan application.

What are you working on right now?

Now? Preparing online contests for Wizard Istanbul. Generally? I’m working on Istanbul- how to promote her, how to entice more tourists.

What does your typical day look like?

Most days look like this: tea, work, breakfast, work, and in the afternoon looking for something new in Istanbul or watching and talking to tourists to see what they do and like. Then dinner and work.

3 trends that excite you?

1-    Networking & getting connected: internet provides a great medium through which to get connected with anyone in order to do business, to spread the love or just for brainstorming purposes.

2-    Web Analytics: improves so fast and lets us research how people act on the web, why they “like”, “comment”, “share” or do nothing even though they ‘like’ the content. It then begs the question, “how can we use it for driving sales, community building or creating a movement?”

3-    Tourism revolution via the web.

How do you bring ideas to life?

‘Giving birth’; it’s what I call executing a project or founding a business. I love it. After the idea charms me, I prepare mind maps for marketing, a timeline, monetization and so on. Then I read -at least scan- Guy Kawasaki’s The Art of Start book, taking notes for the prospective baby. It really helps to clarify things and here I go: find the simplest way to execute and start.

To emphasise: I fail till I succeed, so I love this cliché: “you can’t win if you don’t play!”

What inspires you?

People: but mostly friends and family. Who I brainstorm with, who I discuss and resolve problems with.  Last week my sister (just 17!) came with up with this: “Bro, I love all kinds of tea, why don’t we open a teahouse which serves everything from Korean tea to Turkish black tea. We would also beat Starbucks!”

What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?

Giving up!

Another clichéd quote I love: “If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life”. While I was studying at university and complaining about less funding, capital scarcity and so on, I gave up some of my projects. Then I noticed there was always a simpler and cheaper way to start or keep going. Another thing I realised is that Google still gives irrelevant results and Twitter still has maintenance issues. So instead of waiting to have the best website to launch, starting A.S.A.P. and optimising with feedback is the best thing to do.

So that’s what I think now: “if I love what I do, no one -who works for money- can do it like me. While I do what I do best with love, I can figure out how to make money with it!”

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

It seems the Tea House isn’t enough. Ok then, someone should create a platform to list anyone online based on their influencing capabilities. Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Foursquare, Slideshare and so on. With this, marketers can hire people for seeding their campaigns. Not just like Tweetcounter or Klout, with more complex data to configure, but more clear reasons to list influencers. So people can make money by just being online and be “proud” for being listed as “one who can influence 2500 people”. By the way, it just came to me while I was thinking about this, it would be also great for listing brands based on their influencing levels.

What do you read every day, and why?

I mostly read newsletters I’m subscribed to. But as a routine, I watch 3 presentations by Seth Godin on TED every 15 days. I watch them to get inspired for whatever project I’m thinking about.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?

As I mentioned previously, I highly recommend Guy Kawasaki’s The Art of the Start. It’s a must-read book before you start a business.

What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?

Blackberry and

Three people we should follow on Twitter, and why?

Guy Kawasaki: for me the entrepreneur coach.

Brian Solis: for me the scientist of internet & media.

Seth Godin: for me the inspiration.

Avinash Kaushik: for me the scientist of websites.

Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?

Avinash Kaushik.

How destination marketing changed with tourism 2.0?

It’s a long point of discussion, but to summarise:

1 – Destination to Tourist: internet did the same thing for almost every industry. So destinations can directly connect with tourists. Only forward-thinking DMOs can handle this less-governmental, friendly approach.

2 – Priceless contents: before travel we just imagine a place and dream about what we want. If it fits with what we see in articles, pictures and online videos, we decide to go there. So instead of showing an empty restaurant or a hotel terrace with models posing, DMOs can simply ask to a tourist to use their photo which shows a dining experience, not a well-decorated table or adorable models.

3 – Data & Feedback: like content which tourists share on the web, comments about a museum on Tripadvisor and definitely asking “how was your Istanbul trip?” to a tourist gives DMOs a great opportunity to analyse the needs of tourists, their satisfaction level, and what to feature to entice more tourists.

4 – Low cost & targeting: instead of using offline adds like “Billboard in Berlin”, DMOs has the opportunity to target tourists and use SEM for “Best Städten mit Kindern reisen”. And not just for ads; building a micro-site for medical tourism results in more attending a medical tourism fair.

What do you do when you fed up with working on same project?

There are two main things I do when I’m in such a mood. Firstly, I meet with a friend of mine just to brainstorm about his/her project. Secondly, I don’t work & think for a whole day by watching House M.D. or Lie to Me.