The Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI) announced its plans to initiate its own startup accelerator. An estimated 40 accelerators are now actively engaged in the startup scene of Iran.
Accelerators have become an essential part of Iran’s startup ecosystem, with many of the now successful and renown startups of Iran owing their triumph, at least partly, to accelerators. An estimated 40 accelerators are now actively engaged in the startup scene of Iran and the number is growing rapidly as major corporations are starting to establish their own VCs and accelerators to exploit the market’s underserved potential.
A few days ago, the Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI), Iran’s only landline provider and the parent company of MCI, which holds an estimated 55% share of Iran’s mobile telecommunication market, announced its plans to initiate its own startup accelerator. In an interview with Mehr, Ahmad Olamai, an executive at TCI, announced the company’s plans to start a national startup accelerator across all provinces with the aim of supporting the teams that do not possess the resources to develop and market their service/product.
“The support we offer to innovative ideas will be in 3 categories; hardware, software and content. However, our focus will be mainly on novel services and innovative technologies related to internet of things (IoT),” stated Mr. Olamai. He added that he believes a major problem of the current accelerators in Iran is their inability to directly connect to the consumer market.“We plan to establish a vast network of commercial partners since the telecommunication network is widely connected to the consumer market. The proposed network increases the access of the nascent ventures to potential customers and facilitates commercialization of their ideas,” he added.
On TCI’s website, an application form is now available for startups to fill out and register for the startup accelerator’s program. The CEO of the Communication Regulatory Authority of Iran (CRA) expects the program not to become fully operative until August. He mentioned that they are currently evaluating the registered startups and signing contracts with those deemed fit to enter the program. “There are no limitations for ideas and every startup can benefit from the facilities and resources that TCI provides. In addition to the facilities that are available to the startups, TCI will offer up to 50m Tomans (roughly $13.5k) in funding,” added the CEO of CRA.
Olamai, stating the need for startups to commercialize their products and the ability of TCI to ease the process, noted that the goal of a national integrated accelerator is to aid the products of startups to reach their intended market. “The national accelerator will be available in province capitals and the branches of TCI. The management will be centralized, and startups working on IT services in healthcare, smart cities, transportation and energy will be supported,” said Olamai in his last remarks. He added that the funding will be available in pre-seed, seed and series A stages of startups.
While the participation of the state run organizations such as TCI in the startup landscape of Iran remains a widely debated issue, there is hope that the entry of new players may help revamp regulations and offer a larger pool of resources to the local startups.