İlayda Büyükdoğan RC 16 Changes College Trajectory While Building a Successful Startup

For İlayda Büyükdoğan RC 16, the journey from RC to startup has been anything bu traditional.

İlayda Büyükdoğan’s story is full of twists and turns in the most positive way. After graduating from RC, Büyükdoğan started the Electronics and Communication Engineering Dual Diploma Program at Istanbul Technical University in conjunction with the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

While studying there, a series of mishaps caused her to take a mandatory gap year, which eventually changed her whole life: “I was upset I couldn't go to the US with my classmates, my parents were disappointed, and I had nothing to do for a whole year. I started working in my favorite bookstore. After a few months, the owners moved me to the office, where things got boring very quickly. I realized what I did not want to do with my life, and I quit.”

Shortly after, Büyükdoğan met a startup called Compocket, which was then in the idea phase of developing a prototype to build pocket-sized electronics lab devices: “I loved their vision and decided to be a part of it with one condition: to be a co-founder.”

As the startup grew, Büyükdoğan moved to Copenhagen, where she was accepted both to a university and a startup accelerator. While there, she was selected for the Thiel Fellowship, a program founded by Peter Thiel, where they choose 20 young people who receive $100,000 and access to their network on the condition that the awardees leave college to work on their idea.

She moved to San Francisco where she gained a better understanding of the startup world and saw the disruptors right from the front seat. Compocket reached hundreds of customers from all around the world, generating a six-figure revenue. Büyükdoğan reports that Compocket has received investments from the US's biggest early-stage hardware manufacturing hub and a 100-year-old global technology solutions provider, which required her to move again, this time to Chicago.

Büyükdoğan’s interest in engineering began at RC. “I should give special thanks to Alison Oğuz, my electronics teacher, who accepted me in her course, supported me when I felt alienated by being one of the only two girls in the class and taught me how to use the electronics lab devices which I am re-building today. Also, I should thank RC for giving me the courage to believe in myself and take risks.”

When asked what advice she would give to young alumni and RC students, Büyükdoğan said, “Recognize the conditions and take calculated risks. The worst case is you will end up where you started.”

Published February 2022

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