Özge Tor Vural Foto: Medical Fly GmbH
Neighbors tend to argue bitterly over the height of hedges, loud music and the ‚noise‘ made by children at play. „When you have neighbors, you don‘t need enemies,“ goes the old adage. Özge Tor Vural has neighbors. The 35-year-old has brought a chair to the street and is now sitting in the sun in front of her offices. A neighbor stops by and the two women greet each other with an attentive nod, a smile, a friendly hello. People know each other here. This is something Tor Vural values highly. She gushes about Behaimstraße in Charlottenburg: „The neighborhood is really great. People here are very friendly and polite.“ In other words, neighborhoods can also be great.
Tor Vural‘s offices are located in a small side street off Otto-Suhr-Allee. This is where the entrepreneur manages one of Germany‘s leading agencies for medical tourism. Medical Fly organizes hair transplants, eye laser surgeries, dental treatments and cosmetic surgeries abroad. More specifically, in Turkey. „I have Turkish roots myself, so I thought it was a good fit,“ says Tor Vural, who fulfilled a dream when she started her own independent business. However, she describes her path to that moment as being „pure chaos.“ She studied media studies in Bremen, communication sciences at TU Berlin and, ultimately, she studied the very thing she didn‘t want to study, namely economics.“My father and my sister studied economics. And for a long time, I knew I wanted to do something different,“ she remembers.
She came up with the idea for Medical Fly while still completing her studies. „I‘ve worn glasses since I was 16. When I became an adult, I wanted to get laser surgery on my eyes,“ explains Tor Vural. But she quickly realized she would not be able to afford the procedure in Germany. €6,000 was simply too much for a university student. But the young woman would not be diverted from her path and decided to compare prices in Germany with those in Turkey. „The operation cost roughly €900 in Turkey. A huge difference,“ says Tor Vural, who then recognized the potential for medical tourism. In 2008, she began to talk with physicians and hospitals, attended medical tradeshows and collected information about the required certificates. In 2011, she took part in a Berlin-Brandenburg Business Plan Competition and completed night courses and workshops in addition to her day job in wholesale.
„People who get their eyes lasered today in Turkey do it partly because of the price. But above all, because of the excellent reputation of the treatment,“ explains Tor Vural. She recommends the appropriate specialist to her clients, and instead of cooperating with a single hospital, she has built up a network of individual doctors. By the way, the network functions in the other direction as well. Patients also travel from Arab countries to Germany for medical operations. Sometimes she advises them to forego the operation, for example, when the patient has a pre-existing condition. „The satisfaction of my clients is my highest priority,“ explains the entrepreneur.
Medical Fly‘s specialists work in cities such as Istanbul, Izmir and Antalya. Every two months, they travel to Germany to get to know their patients in person. In the field of plastic surgery, direct contact is enormously important, she says. „Operations such as these are tricky, and patients need to know they are in good hands,“ explains Özge Tor Vural. „Trust comes from familiarity.“ Just like good neighborly relations.