Iran’s fast growing startup ecosystem meets its first angel group called AvaAngels. Like every other emerging market, young startup ecosystems witness number of seed-stage startups and teams that are trying to get seed and growth capital. Facing the natural challenges every startup faces, smart money and fund at the other hand is a special one. When the ecosystem is about to get on its feet, banks and typical investment firm aren’t the best answer for a startup’s financial needs. In these kind of environments, the “smartest” money an entrepreneur could get is from friends and family. Entrepreneurs will see the silver lining once an investor that knows the hardship, challenges, and the risk of starting a startup, and yet trusts in the team and invests. These angels are called angel investors.

Angel fund is a necessity, when a startup ecosystem wants to thrive and answer the entrepreneur’s funding needs. Angel fund is the answer to fill in the gap between the inception of a startup, and when it gets ready for VC fund. An angel network will help its member to scout and find more teams with potential, to invest in.

With all the hype and activity going on in this sector, Iran witnesses its first Angel group called AvaAngels. Founded by Mohammad Ramin Komeilian, AvaAngels forms a trinity with its partners Sarava Ventures, the leading VC which invested in Iran’s biggest startups like Digikala, and Avatech the well known Iranian startup accelerator.  AvaAngels invests in seed-stage startups from Avatech’s graduates, to every startup with potential all over Iran.
The Story

We sat down and chatted with Mohammad Ramin Komeilian, a passionate angel investor with the vision of seeing Iranian startups thrive.

Mohammad Ramin was born in a business oriented family. He got his passion at the peak of the Dot-com boom. “My passion in technology started in 1997, I was so fascinated by sending an email. So I started reading, tried to gather as much information from the tech sector as I could. I once read an article about the founders of Yahoo, and how they made about $150M at that time.” Said Komeilian.

“The breakthrough really came when I saw Jeff Bezos on the cover of time magazines. I had boxes of articles about amazon, I would read anything you could possibly find. I was always interested in this topic and wanted to do something, so in 2004 I started a VC called Darya Venture partners. We were raising funds to invest in companies, and to be honest we were way ahead of our time. ATM cards were just introduced to Iran. We were talking to many organization and writing business plans for some projects. But the mindset wasn’t there and there wasn’t enough capital” Mohammad Ramin said about his past.

“I want that big picture view, where you can help many companies get off the ground”- Mohammad Ramin Komeilian


After Darya Venture Partners Mohammad Ramin flew back to Canada to finish his studies. After that, he came back to Iran and worked in his family business. But the passion for technology was still tickling him. In 2012 he met a person in Turkey and asked him about the technology scene in there. He then was invited to attend Startup Turkey and found out about Turkey’s startup scene, and the potential that this sector has in the region. But he was thinking far beyond starting a startup. “I want that big picture view, where you can help many companies get off the ground.” he said.

“Starting a VC requires a lot of capital. What I was really interested in was starting a small startup.”, He added. And that is where he met with other angel investors and VCs like Sarava which led to the creation of this current angel group.
The ups and downs
When we were talking about Iran’s tech-investment landscape, many question popped up. How do you find investors with the proper mindset of angel investing? Are there currently enough startups to invest in? and more.
Not every investor is an angel investor. Just like an entrepreneur, an angel investor has a unique mindset, a passion and risk taking spirit that is required to invest in a startup in a very young and untouched market.

Angels are investors with a passion to help entrepreneurs and get the return they want at the same time. “We know it’s not charity, you do want to make money down the road. But you have to have a certain mindset that another investor might not necessarily have” He stated. “An angel investor might help a team for the sake of helping the team”.

Finding people with an angel investment mindset proved to be one of the biggest challenges of AvaAngels. And finding them and bringing them to the network is another issue.

Though Iranian startup ecosystem has a rapid growth, an angel network like AvaAngels still needs more startups to invest in. “We need more deals, more companies, more committed teams.” The managing partner told us. “The great thing about accelerators like Avatech for us is that they have hand picked teams, and the teams have gone threw the stage of due diligence, making accelerators a good place to find companies”. Adding that the members of the angel group will help scout teams and introduce them to the whole group.

On Sanctions

Sanctions being lifted is a subject that is going to change the landscape in many ways. When we asked Mohammad Ramin about the effects the sanctions is going to have and whether or not it’s going to improve the tech sector or not, he answered:“let me asked you a better question, when was Sarava formed?”. We replied by saying “At the peak of sanctions”. “there you go” he stated.

Whether or not the sanctions being lifted or not Iran startup scene would grow as it had in the past years. Access to foreign fund is an important matter which will help startups to have more options in raising funds. “It has to be smart money” He said on this subject. “You have to be carefull foreign investors don’t ruin the play for Iranian companies. They won’t increase the valuation in a false matter, because if you start investing you would increase the valuation without there being grounds for”.

AvaAngels on the move
AvaAngels has currently invested in couple startups mostly from Avatech’s graduates. According to Mohammad Ramin Komeilian there are 35 potential angels currently on their radar. Currently this angel group consist of 5 fully committed Iranian angel investors which have already invested in one or two seed-stage startups. Some of AvaAngels investments include AkhbarRasmi and Rangitar.
AvaAngels plans to grow to a group of minimum 25 angels in the near future. In order to educate themselves more, a circle of education and knowledge sharing exists in AvaAngels, where angels can share their experiences, grow and educate themselves on the best due diligence and valuation methods. Growing the group would also help all the angels in the group to get access to more deal flows. More member will equal to more angels seeking new startups.
We asked Komeilian if he has a message to investors that are thinking of venturing into the startup and tech scene, “invest in this industry if you have passion and if you understand it, and if you are willing to learn. These are extremely important” he said.
Angel groups like AvaAngels will help the Iranian startup ecosystem to get better and smarter access to capital to fulfill their startups needs in different stages. More seed funds will equal to more growth in activity in Iran’s startup scene. We are hoping to see some positive results in the near future.

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It is AvaAngels not AvaAngles! Correct the image please.

MohammadReza Azali

Hi Yousef Jan,

Thanks for letting us know, we corrected the Image.
Thank you for reading us and giving us feedbacks.