‘How Iran’s Tech Start-Ups are Enjoying Western Sanctions’
Iran, 2015. Headlines across the world discussing the country focus on nuclear arms deals, imprisoned journalists or worrying practices of the Iranian government. Given stories like these, tech businesses are perhaps not something that one would immediately associate with Iran, but that is sure to change as the tech companies of Tehran arrive on the world stage.
The upcoming iBRIDGES technology conference in Berlin this Thursday seeks to bring together founders, investors, and startup enthusiasts from all over the world. This year’s theme is ‘High Tech Entrepreneurship in Iran: Opportunities and Challenges’. Startups in Iran are in a unique position due to the country’s political affairs. A combination of sanctions from the US, and blocking by the Iranian government, have prevented big names such as Google, YouTube, and eBay from operating within its borders. In response, local counterparts of popular apps have sprung up to fill this niche. With little competition, they have taken off. We took a look at some of Iran’s most popular tech companies.
Founders: Hamid and Said Mohammadi
Online marketplace founded in 2006, and is the most visited online store in the Middle East.
Aim: Information and reviews, and a good shopping experience.
Founder: Mohammad-Javad Shakouri Moghadam
‘Movie projector’ in Persian, Aparat is a video sharing platform started in 2007. It also allows downloads, and is the third most visited website in Iran.
Aim: Making it easier for people to be part of the ‘online world’.
Founder: Hessam Armandehi
A smartphone app marketplace. Over 25,000 apps, and 20 million visits each week.
Aim: Provide Android apps to the Iranian market, where Google will not operate.
Digikala, Aparat, and CafeBazaar may be the most highly valued tech companies in Iran, but they are by no means the only ones. The tech world in Tehran is positively bubbling with local reinventions of apps we all know and love. Cloob is the Facebook-style social network launched in the same year, 2004, by the founders of Aparat. Snapp is the Iranian answer to Uber, and Takhfifan is a Groupon-style deals website which operates in seven cities in Iran. Each iBRIDGES conference has an event known as Pitch Fest, where early-stage startups are given the opportunity to pitch for potential investors. With this year’s event focusing on Iranian talent it won’t be long before we hear of many more.
If you like this article you may be interested in “Is Iran Playing A Dangerous Game?”.