Entrepreneurs Succeed Everywhere – Story of Iranian Ecosystem

The very notion of entrepreneurship is global and ubiquitous, since it says that innovations can be applied everywhere, irrespectively of external circumstances. Nothing illustrates this example better than the ecosystem of Iran. Speaking at Startup Turkey, Mohsen Malayeri shared his thoughts on the untapped opportunity and the vibrant Iranian startup ecosystem.

Kicking of his presentation, Mohsen Malayeri asserts that Iran and Turkey are very similar in key demographics: 70% of the population are under the age 35, with the total population of 82 million and almost identical rates of urbanization and literacy. Yet for a country incubated from Western products, Iranians are very tech-savvy people: mobile penetration is at 120% (meaning most Iranians hold more than 1 phone), with 47M internet and 35M smartphone users. 80% of all payments are processed online – meaning that there is great trust in the financial system. With increasing digitization and a substantial pool of engineers, it was only a question of time when we would see successful startups emerging in Iran.

 Cafebazaar.ir capitalized on the absence of a centralized app store for android phones, achieving 30M users and $15M in annual revenue in a couple of years. Divar successfully entered the mobile classifieds space and the ecosystem is becoming saturated with clear winners emerging. The same could be said of investors: Iran has 12 accelerators right now and 2 angel networks, something unseen 4 years ago. For a more detailed look at the current Iranian ecosystem take a look at the slides of Mohsen’s presentation, which can be found here.

 Mohsen finalizes his talk by giving three pieces of advice to those who want to get involved in the Iranian ecosystem. Get engaged early, opportunities are limited so be early player (international VCs are already fishing in the market). Partner up with local players – their market know-how will prove indispensable to you. Finally, invest into a fund or a syndicate – make sure you get investor exposure too.


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