Economy, Business And Markets

Iran’s Largest Start-Up Weekend Gets Underway

Iran’s Largest Start-Up Weekend Gets UnderwayIran’s Largest Start-Up Weekend Gets Underway

Iran’s largest start-up weekend started in Tehran at five different universities on Wednesday, namely the universities of Tehran, Sharif, Technology and Science, Shahid Beheshti and Amir Kabir.

Start-up weekends are three-day events during which participants exchange ideas, team up and launch their projects.

The events start with speeches made by the organizers and other key figures. Project proposals will be then presented in a maximum of one minute, after which voting will decide on the ten potentially most successful ideas. The participants – all of whom are required to have strong skills in either management, design or programming – will finally decide for which start-up they would like to spend their energy and brainpower.

Additionally, Sarava Company – a leading venture capital firm based in Pardis Technology Park – will also offer a price to the winning teams of the total 13 start-up events organized this month. This price includes an all-inclusive trip to Berlin to represent Iran at the iBridge start-up event – a much-watched innovative conference and brain-storming event, to be held on June 4-6, 2015.

Iran is not alien to start-up events. The Iranian Entrepreneurship Association has been playing an active role in organizing various events, including a whole range of start-up weekends and start-up accelerators, which are for-profit events in which the organizer takes a share in future companies.

An increasing number of economic analysts have recently focused their attention on the domestic start-up tech industry, which has been growing very rapidly while the rest of the economy faces stagnation.

Digikala has been leading the tech start-up industry. The company has recently been valued at $150 million, according to the World Start-Up Report, which annually compiles a list of the three most successful start-ups in each of its 50 listed countries.

The other two Iranian companies on the list included Aparat group, a substitute for the blocked Youtube ($30m) and CafeBazaar, Iran’s leading android application store ($20m). Other tech start-ups have also sprouted up, including Takhfifan, Tiwall, NetBarg and ZarinPal to name a few.

Most of the start-ups are not based on a completely unique concept but are in one way or another Iranian variations of major foreign tech companies. Domestic internet restrictions as well as banking sanctions have inadvertently led to an enormous window of opportunity for Iranian entrepreneurs to design and launch their own online business platforms.

The government has also blown wind into the sails of the tech start-up industry. Since assuming office in 2013, President Hassan Rouhani has promised cheaper and faster internet. Last year, the two major mobile operators in the country, MTN Irancell and Hamrah-e-Avval were licensed to provide 3G and 4G internet services to users after Rightel’s exclusive 3G contract expired.

 Start-up weekends have been organized more than a thousand times all over the world. In line with the recent rise in start-up projects, start-up weekends have taken place in 501 cities in 126 countries.

According to Eqtesad News, 36 percent of the start-ups that were launched at the previous weekends are still active. Additionally, more than 80 percent of the participants have carried on with their projects ever since.