Qype Expands Into Turkey, Extends European Lead Over Yelp

European local business recommendation and discovery tool Qype today officially launched Qype Turkey, its latest localized national offering, offering Turkish business listings via Qype.com.tr. If you haven’t heard of Qype, it’s probably because you’re used to Yelp’s overwhelming dominance of the local restaurant, food and other business recommendations in North America. In Europe, Qype is the biggest player in the local review space, and this latest expansions shows that the company is serious about locking down Europe’s markets in this lucrative space.

Turkey is a big target for a lot of European startups, since it has one of the fastest growing economies in the world (if not the fastest, according to some recent reports) a young population, and ever-increasing adoption of smartphones and connected devices. Qype CEO Ian Brotherston explained in an interview some of the other reasons why the company sees Turkey as such a strong opportunity for expansion.

“A lot of Turkish people live in Germany, and Germany is our strongest pocket,” he said. “And at the moment, Turkish places are largely only represented by tourists, whereas I think Qype gives the opportunity for real Turkish people to make recommendations on real places that locals and insiders go to. Turkish people have started travelling a lot, so it’s a platform not only for Turkey, but for Turkish people to comment on.”

Brotherston also notes that the average age in Turkey is 28, making the population generally younger and more internet-savvy than most. He also characterized Turkish people as early adopters by and large, noting that it’s among the top 10 countries in the world when it comes to global social media platform usage. Launching an already-strong product in the market in Turkey is therefore a natural fit. Turkey’s economy is also made up overwhelmingly by small business, which Brotherston says accounts for 98 percent of its overall businesses, meaning local recommendations become especially relevant to Turkish entrepreneurs and business owners.

Qype’s moves should help it widen the gulf between itself and competitor Yelp, which it leads by a wide margin in terms of active businesses in each of its European markets. The company claimed 500 percent growth in its mobile advertising revenues over the last year leading into 2012, and says that profitability is in the cards for this calendar year. Yelp, of course, still has a number of advantages over its competitor, thanks to its recent $100 million IPO, and much stronger footing in the lucrative North American market.

But for Qype, this is a good play that not only cements its European presence but also opens up a path to further expansion into the Middle East and beyond. This continued growth also makes it a prime target for acquisition, should Yelp decide it wants to spend some of its cash on a company that’s already done all of the legwork and take a shortcut to European success.

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