5 Top Iranian Startups
The emerging market of startups is an undeniable game-changer in the realm of Iranian online businesses. With ever more competitors popping up in this sector over the past few years, Iranian business has been subject to a major shakeup.
The Financial Tribune features the top five Iranian startups in terms of website rank and referrals as follows:
Topping the list is the Iranian equivalent of Amazon known as Digikala. Established in 2007, originally as an online retail website for digital goods, Digikala has quickly risen to prominence in less than a decade. A portmanteau of digital and kala (meaning “goods” in Farsi), the local leader in e-business ranks as the fourth most popular website in Iran and the number one most popular startup among all. Since its launch, Digikala has expanded the categories of goods available for purchase and now includes sports and leisure, healthcare and beauty, home appliances and artistic products. As of March 4, 2016, Digikala’s global ranking was 494 based on data published by Alexa.com.
YouTube’s Iranian counterpart, the online video sharing website Aparat, follows closely and is the second most referred-to startup in Iran as well as the sixth most popular website in the country. Given the fact that YouTube is officially blocked, Aparat set out to fill that gap in the market and created a platform where users could upload and stream videos. The website was initially launched in 2011 and has come a long way since. It ranks 543 globally and has been selected by Startup Grind (Google for Entrepreneurs) as one of the Iranian startups to have made it to the list of top 50 successful startups of 2015. Aparat is owned by Saba Idea group that also runs other Iranian websites such as the local social media site Cloob.com among others.
Ranking as the 11th most popular website in Iran, Mihanblog is a powerful blogging tool. After the sharp-rising popularity of blogging in Iran, over a decade ago, several similar foreign websites such as Word Press and Google’s Blogger were filtered in the country due to the spread of content that did not comply with Islamic code. Mihanblog, therefore, managed to win a larger share in this area and has since maintained its leading position in the chart. The website was first launched in 2004 and now ranks 828 globally while maintaining its third place among the top Iranian startups.
Next up, leading classified ads website Divar.ir, where people sell, buy or swap cars, furniture, household appliances or musical instrument, the site is the most popular one. Launched in 2007, it took Divar (meaning “wall” in Farsi) until 2013 to focus its activities on online sales. Divar is now the sixth most visited website, making it the fourth most popular startup.
Given the competitive nature of e-commerce, it was only a matter of time before more online businesses would emerge, and it is no surprise that in fifth place would stand Digikala’s largest competitor, Bamilo. This online retailer also includes a range of categories such as apparel, gadgets and home appliances among many more. Launched in Iran in 2014, Bamilo is now the 31st most popular local website. The site and many other recent startups have been funded in part by a joint holding company of Germany’s Rocket Internet and Iran’s second largest mobile operator, MTN-Irancell.
Other prominent startups include car trading website Bama, social media platform Cloob, technology magazine Zoomit, digital marketing platform Anetwork, advertising network Clickyab and the Iranian application store for android Cafebazaar.