Iran’s Startup Market
Iran’s market is untapped to the outside world and has a very high potential of becoming one of the world’s largest economies.
Even with the US backing from Nuclear Deal, Iranian domestic startups grow progressively. In the past decades, Iranian domestic startup companies began to emerge yet its startup ecosystem is young and has so much potential for growth.
Iran has a very young population. More than 60% of its 80 million are less than 35 years old. This means it has a massive consumer market.
Another aspect of Iran is its high level of education rate. One of the highest in the region with almost 90% literacy rate. This means Iran has an amazing talent pool for different startup companies.
Internet and smartphone penetration is the highest in the region. More than 56 million internet users and growing. That’s more than 34% in the Middle East. Unlike ten years ago, 3G and 4G internet is now commonplace making Iran a great place to launch tech startups.
Iran’s geographical location is unique. It is the heart of the mating route between Europe, Asia, and Africa. It is one of the five countries sharing borders with the Caspian Sea and has access to open waters in the south.
Iran is rich in natural and mineral resources and reserves. Oil, natural gas, coal, petroleum, aluminium, steel, chromium, copper, iron ore, lead, manganese, zinc, salt, ammonia, sulfur, cement, and Gypsum are just a few of them.
In the Tech business, Iran may be behind the pack but it is growing at a much faster rate compared to Turkey and the UAE. Much of its startup market is untapped and without competition. Combining that with low operation costs, it opens great opportunities for entrepreneurs and startup companies all around the world.
- Digikala, the Iranian domestic version of Amazon, was founded in 2006. It is the largest e-commerce startup company in Iran which dominates more than 85% of the e-commerce market. Although the company doesn’t publish its revenue, based on Pomegranate’s calculations, Digikala worth more than $860 million. The founders of Digikala have promised to be the first Iranian startup company to worth more than $1 billion and with the current rate, it’s hard to argue against.
- Aparat, Iranian domestic version of Youtube, first began in February 2011, aiming to fill the void of online video sharing due to the fact that Youtube is blocked in Iran. Today it is the most viewed Iranian domestic website in Iran and the 107th most viewed website (by alexa.com) globally.
- Café Bazaar, is the largest android application marketplace in Iran. It was first launched in February 2010, a time when Google Play was inaccessible in Iran. Today. Café Bazaar offers more than 162,000 application software and games for more than 38 million Android users. 98% of the users are in Iran.
- Divar, first launched in 2007, is owned by Café Bazaar. It is the Iranian domestic version of Craigslist. Users can buy, sell and trade different new and used products via app/website. Currently, Divar operates in 55 cities and its rural areas all around Iran. Plus, it is the first Iranian website to break borders and progress further to the neighbouring country, Afghanistan.
- Maman Paz is the first Iranian startup app focusing on ordering and delivering homemade traditional foods, dishes, desserts, salads and snacks in Tehran. This company uses real housewives who are passionate about cooking. In 2016, Mamanpaz, on average, had more than 1000 orders a day.
- Snapp, is the Iranian equivalent of the ride-hailing company Uber. It was first launched in February 2014. Today, it offers service to more than 60 small and large cities all over Iran. It has more than 360,000 drivers only in Tehran. Some services are Snapp+ (offer services with better cars), Snapp Box/Bike (transfer parcel or passenger via motorcycle), and Snapp Food (food delivery – obviously!). Snapp is even thinking of running a delivery system for weekly groceries.
- NetBarg, is another e-commerce marketplace launched in early 2011. It is the Iran domestic version of Groupon; although NetBarg is doing quite well in Iran. NetBarg connects merchants and service providers to users in Iran. Currently, NetBarg operates in seven major cities.
- Bamilo is Digikala’s largest competitor. It also is an e-commerce startup company which began in 2014. Although there is a fair distance between the two companies, Bamilo was able to attract many customers due to its highly competitive pricing. Bamilo is the 26th most viewed website in Iran.
Other startup companies which by no means are less successful and not limited to are Tap30, Alibaba.ir, Sheypoor, ZarinPal, Takhfifan, Jabeh, Artibition, Torob, Diaalog, 3SootJobs, Musera, IranbyBit, PitStop, Hamkelasi, Boghcheh, Mehrabane, Zoraq and Tele Teb to say the very least.