Tehran’s well known startup accelerator witnessed its second selection day event to choose 10 startups to join its acceleration program. The event took place on July 2nd where a group of angel investors, mentors and industry experts reviewed the 16 teams that had gone through the pre-acceleration phase. The event started at 9:30 AM with every team getting 3 minutes to pitch their startup and progress followed by a fierce 5 minutes of Q&A.
Generally startup accelerators play a key role in empowering startup ecosystems, are one of the key drivers in helping local startups mature and ultimately help elevate the overall quality of all startups in ecosystems. Witnessing a new wave of entrepreneurs and startups in Iran, accelerators play a significant role in producing high quality companies, creating future success stories and world-class entrepreneurs.
As a brief overview of Iran’s startup ecosystem in the past 2 years, a high rate of growth in startup activities is apparent. Universities are starting to promote the entrepreneurship culture. Events like Startup Weekends and other education-based entrepreneurship events can be found in every corner of the country. The number of people attending startup events has increased by more than 100% in the past year. NGO’s like IEA (Iran Entrepreneurship Association) are actively serving the community. VCs and incubators are becoming well known concepts. All of these are indicators of a thriving startup ecosystem. As for accelerators we’ve witnessed a handful of high quality ones pop up in the recent years and this is great since their mandate is to produce entrepreneurs and startups that follow the fundamentals of scalable startups.
Avatech is one of the better known startup accelerators in Iran. Besides have a great acceleration program, it’s also actively supporting the local startup community. In addition to hosting various startup events, Avatech helps Startup Weekend organizers use its working space, connects Iranian diaspora entrepreneurs to the local startup community and organizes free workshops for entrepreneurs outside of Avatech’s acceleration program. Having a vast number of mentors from successful local entrepreneurs to well known international experts at their disposal, it is assured that the teams receive great guidance which doesn’t come easy.
Looking at Avatech’s first cycle graduates, some promising signals can be seen. 10 teams pitched on Avatech’s first demo day on April 9th 2015, showing off their progress and blowing the investors away. Many have gone to raise follow on funding and have seen significant success. You can read more about the last demo day here First Demo day.
The 10 selected teams from Avatech’s second cycle seem to be ahead in terms of progress than the last cycle at this stage. Most of the startups seen in this cycle are a counterparts of well known startups outside of Iran that havn’t had the opportunity to enter the Iranian market. This is a great example of implementing already-proven business models and localizing them to the Iranian market effectively. With Iran’s market being untouched the lack of these business models are evident.
16 teams entered Avatech’s pre-acceleration phase, a 2 months program focusing on helping the teams validate their business models, form teams, build MVPs, find their right market segments and start to acquire their early customers. In order to select the 10 chosen teams, they were analyzed and benchmarked on criterias such as team quality, progress in the previous 2 months, market and opportunity size.
Here are the 10 teams selected for Avatech’s second cycle:
Dimana is a cloud-based solution for real estate agencies to introduce a higher rate of efficiency to their operations by removing paper clutter. They allow real estate agencies to attract more customers and to interact them in an intelligent manner. They are set to expand their product and onboard different players in the Iranian real estate market. Dimana is currently in customer acquisition phase already having selected over 10 real estate agencies to use this software.
Website link: Dimana
2. Rayan Afzar Kabir (FarmThief)
Rayan Afzar Kabir is a video game studio currently working on their second game called FarmThief. Their team consists of 5 game developers that together they made their previous project Rolling Lazies (It is on CafeBazaar). FarmThief is an MMO game for smartphones that gaming skills of players play as the key role to succeed in game. They are launching their second game in 2 weeks.
Website link: Rayankavir
Bitvam is a social loan platform, a network that allow your friends and relatives to help each other financially. They use micro-financing methods to create loans and distribute the funds amongst trusted users. Bitvam currently has 100 registered users and is launching their android app this week with their iOS version launching in the near future.
Website link: Bitvam
A booking.com for connecting people to sport clubs and coaches, SportUp’s vision is to encourage more Iranians to get involved in athletic activities. They are launching their membership program this week and have started signing contracts with select sport clubs in Tehran & Qazvin.
Website link: SportUp
A cafe management solution enhanced with loyalty management capabilities. Cortado is fully operational and currently has over 13 cafes using their product all located in Tehran in addition to over 100 members with loyalty cards in their hands. They are currently signing a handful of new contracts with cafes are building up their channels sales partners.
Website link: Cortado
This startup is a marketplace for handicrafts. Artists can market & sell their crafts in Parvaneh’s marketplace. Their vision is to create a vibrant online community of artists that produce quality goods and use their solution for branding, marketing and distribution. Parveneh has hand-selected a small group of well known artists to utilize their product. They are launching a private-beta of their marketplace in the next couple of weeks.
Website link: ParvanehArt
NikPrint is an online print design platform that provides wide range of quality designs with free delivery. Soon users will be able to design their products on their online tool and submit them for print and delivery. They have already generated revenue in the pre-acceloration phase and were one of the most popular teams with mentors and investors.
Website link: NikPrint
The only hardware startup in this cycle of Avatech in SmartBeen. They plan to dominate the smart greenhouse industry by providing hardware and software solutions for hydroponic greenhouses. SmartBeen sensors control room temperatures humidity by monitoring various local signals and intelligently alerting users in case of emergencies. Their solution comes with an online management application that seamlessly interfaces with the installed hardware.
Website link: SmartBeen
Rangitar is an online marketplace that connects photographers to their customers and sell their high quality photographs. Customers can effortlessly search the large collection of high resolution pictures uploaded by photographers and purchase licenses on their application. Rangier is currently launched and operational for photographers to share their art work.
Website link: rangitar
Namlik is an audio distribution platform which provides curated audio content based on user’s interests. They provide narrated articles provided by Iranian news and content publishers. In addition they are already operational and have over 50 articles available for their users’ listening pleasure. Namlik has plans to onboard more publishers and acquire their listeners by providing high quality narrated content.
Website link: Namlik
These teams will enter Avatech’s acceleration program receiving the complete support of the accelerator’s mentor and investor networks. Avatech provides seed funding of 25M Tomans (equivalent of 8K$), working space, specific workshops and mentorship from their 50 mentors at their team’s disposal.
It’s too early to say if these startups are on the road to great success but it’s safe to say they’ve been off to a great start.