Being tough is in our blood

Ridiculously hard and complex

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Building a business in Iran is ridiculously harder than you can imagine if you’re reading this from Silicon Valley or perhaps some other part of this world!

Entrepreneurship specifically in Iran is all about balancing the high risks, small takeaways, and loads of challenges (You can read more on this here). If your partner is not up for it, here is what’s going to happen, you will slowly and gradually lower your risk appetite, work fewer hours in the week, always encounter doubts slamming into your face from the ones surrounding you, and eventually failing the business! This is if you don’t take action now and effectively communicate your expectations, needs and concerns with your partner and try to progress. As a matter of fact, as a leader of a startup or any kind of business, you require a team who looks up to you and trusts, respects and is also empowered by you. For this, the first person you need to inspire and empower is your partner and soul mate, also not to forget families and friends surrounding you.

Left image (Aparat’s Mohammad-Javad Shakouri Moghaddam, left, and Hamid Mohammadi of Digikala, Iran’s version of Amazon) — Right image(Mohammad Noresi, founder of Hamijoo, Nazanin Daneshvar, founder of Takhfifan and Tabassom Latifi, founder of Mamanpaz). photographed in Tehran. Photograph: Arash Ashourinia/Observer. Retrieved from Here.

What makes this path different and I assume more difficult compared to other places in the world, is that entrepreneurship in Iran involves high risks and loads of headaches. Some factors affect the way we take our first steps in this path. Individuals with no entrepreneurship background in the family such as myself, face challenges such as opposing families. In families with no background in this field, parents are not ready to accept the risks their beloved ones might face. Unlike foreign countries where young adults become independent at the age of 18 (you can read more about this here), young adults in Iran remain dependent on their families mostly until getting married. Even then, families have a significant influence on their lives. These factors prompt most young adults from following a path with risks of colliding with the unknowns. The world of startups.

Parents are kind of right in fact. There are many factors affecting businesses in Iran that might be considered as high risks in any country. The regulation risks of the National Tax Administration and the Social Security Organization, the ambiguities, defects, and deficiencies in the legislation being the most pain points of all. According to Techrasa, the speed that the startup ecosystem is growing is multiple times faster than the speed of law and regulation development and the process by which startups are registered is the same as any other company. Legal frameworks such as Shareholder Rights, Vesting and Stock Options, NDA, etc. do not exist in the form we typically see in other developed countries. There is no other way around. No registered company translates in having no permits and allowance to provide services. Although there have been some improvements in the past few years, there are no proper policies and regulatory structures to ease the way of entrepreneurs.

Apart from the challenges with funding and capital, infrastructures, or finding talents, Iranian entrepreneurs mostly face challenges and obstacles that they can’t or hardly can control. These being either sanctions that prompt them from reaching international markets, lack of proper legal frameworks, or challenges of Doing Business in Iran (Access full report here) that seem to grow by the day. According to the Doing Business Report 2020, Iran is ranked 127th in the world. To make the data comparable across 190 economies, Doing Business uses a standardized business that is 100% domestically owned, has start-up capital equivalent to 10 times the income per capita, engages in general industrial or commercial activities, and employs between 10 and 50 people one month after the commencement of operations, all of whom are domestic nationals.

Not to worry, Iranian entrepreneurs are tough and possess this God-given DNA and knack for starting awesome businesses and innovating.

Financial Tribune reports that the revenues of Iranian tech firms and knowledge-based companies have exceeded 1.2 quadrillion rials ($4.63 billion) in the first 10 months of the current fiscal year (started March 20, 2020), an official with Iran National Innovation Fund said.

I’ve always thought about this. If we’ve succeeded in this harsh entrepreneurship environment, guess what we’d do if we were in Silicon Valley. Speaking of which, you might know that Iranian-Americans have been rocking the Silicon Valley for many years and they’re getting stronger by day! As Pejman Nozad puts it, the Persian mafia got $70B bigger when Uber appointed Tehran-Born Dara Khosrowshahi as its new CEO back in 2017. There are loads more to include such as Pierre Omidyar, Arash Ferdowsi, and others you need to check out here.

Shervin Pishevar an Iranian-American entrepreneur, venture capitalist, super angel investor, and Co-founder of Virgin Hyperloop One on Forbes Magazine

So we have it in our blood. But putting aside all this Ridiculously hard and complex environment for doing business, the question I’m trying to answer is how work and life balance for those who want to build will look like.

For an individual like me, who faces these challenges in a tough business environment in Iran, I will want to find out what makes it tougher for Iranian startup founders and small business owners to find their best fit for work and life balance? As the wise men say, asking the write questions will bring you the best possible solutions to your problems.

So I will try to answer this question in another post titled “The myth of work and life balance” from the point of view of a founder or owner who is also thinking of the complexities that marriage and being taken might add to this.

Tell me after you read this, how would you survive this tough startup community? Write to me or set up a 30 minute meeting if you feel to talk more about this.

Hope you’re rocking your world guys. Check this Instagram page for beautiful pictures of Iran.

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First to be entrepreneur in family, in love with new products and services. Failed one startup. Exited one successfully. Interim CEO at a Fintech startup.

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Mahdi Barkhordari Firouzabadi

Mahdi Barkhordari Firouzabadi

First to be entrepreneur in family, in love with new products and services. Failed one startup. Exited one successfully. Interim CEO at a Fintech startup.

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