As a young businesswoman in Iran, Nazanin Daneshvar didn’t plan to become one of Tehran’s trail blazing techpreneurs. She has overcome obstacles of both age, and gender. The 30-year old is part of a startup scene so vibrant, more than one hundred people recently competed for a place at the country’s first private accelerator, providing mentorship as well as funding.
Tehran’s techpreneurs say one of the few benefits of sanctions are the almost limit-less opportunities to localize popular Western sites, like YouTube and PayPal. […]
Women dominate the hard sciences at Iranian universities, studying subjects like engineering, math and chemistry. And, women are involved in Tehran’s tech sector, but Daneshvar says the real problem is getting the older segments of society to take web businesses seriously.
Shifting traditional mindsets and uptake is a slow process, but with a compelling sales pitch, Daneshvar and her sales team have more than 10,000 merchants on board.
“We are solving a problem. Advertising is so expensive, and there is a financial crunch, so we say to merchants, just give us a discount, and we will get customers for you and bring a lot of PR. There’s limited disposable income, so if you can double the performance you can get out of that, why wouldn’t you? We only sell as many deals as the businesses can handle.”
Takhfifan earns a variable commission on the sale of each coupon for discounted services. […]
The company has grown from two sisters in a tiny office, selling one deal a week, to a staff of 60, with deals in seven different cities. Daneshvar’s entirely boot-strapped business has seen 100% growth since launch.
“The first year we doubled in growth every two months. This is still not comparable to Groupon. This is organic growth. We don’t have a marketing budget.”
Daneshvar says most Iranian startups operate with zero to little funding. Wealthy parents invest their money in property, rather than their children’s tech aspirations. In her case, Daneshvar says her parents’ support came in the form of many middle class families: room and board.
The success of Takhfifan has led Daneshvar to develop a new venture Tarinan, a review site, driven by customer demand. […]
Tarinan, a local search and review-based platform launched last year and we’ve just launched mobile. We have more than 30,000 reviews without advertising, not a single penny spent and our company is completely boot-strapped – both of them.”
Denashvar has won all sorts of awards for her site, including recognition from Silicon Valley, but she says the real challenge goes back to mentorship. It’s a culture that doesn’t exist in Iran – yet.
“People are changing jobs every three months, every six months, because they don’t have proper mentorship to teach them how to work. In the US, people take lots of internships, here there is no such eco-system. People don’t have this tradition of looking at a career. The only option is taking over their parents’ shop.”
But that’s changing. Tehran’s tech community is banking on leaders like Denashvar, to do more than recruit others to the sector; they’re counting on her, with a requisite failure and success under her belt, to be one of Iran’s pioneering mentors.