One of the prominent figures in the venture capital world Tim Draper has interesting point of views about Iran. Visionary investors find visionary entrepreneurs that summon opportunities. TechRasa got the chance to sit down with Tim Draper at Pioneers Festival and talk about Iran.
Do’s and Don’ts for Iranian Entrepreneurs and Investors
A young startup ecosystem doesn’t only have young startups and entrepreneurs. It also has young VCs. The Founder of DFJ, Draper VC and Draper University had something to say to Iranian entrepreneurs and VCs. Draper and his father take some of their time off and teach the best practices of investing in potential venture capitalists and the wealthy willing to venture in the tech world. When Silicon Valley started rising, investors were facing different types of entrepreneurs. The wanna-be millionaires or the visionary. Tim Draper’s first advice to Iranian Investors and other investors in emerging markets was to “Watch out for those who are in it for the money and for those really good sales people. Because today they will be selling you computers and tomorrow they will be selling you blackboards.”
Investors invest in entrepreneurs not just ideas. Determination and vision are the main traits an investor must see when investing in an entrepreneur, as stated Tim Draper in his interview with TechRasa. He also mentions which type of entrepreneurs tend to be the best ones: Engineers and marketers. “Engineers that understand the technology and they’re applying it to the market, and good marketers who understand a marketplace, that pull the technology into it.”
“I would also look for global opportunities that may start in Iran, and use the Iranian market as test bed,” said Tim Draper on good deals to invest in Iran.
As for entrepreneurs, looking beyond the horizon was the key topic of the talk. “What I recommend to Iranian entrepreneurs is to think long deep in to the future. Don’t just think something happened in Silicon valley and I’m just going to copy it. Think something just happened in Silicon valley, that’s going to have a run for about 5 years and what’s next? Abstract one or two layers beyond it. Think 5 to 10 years out, Then you can really build something great.”
Game changers in a startup ecosystem
Successful entrepreneurs! “One successful entrepreneur who is willing to talk about their experience that can inspire everyone else,” said Tim Draper on what can boost an entrepreneurial scene. A startup ecosystem needs couple of those figures that make other aspiring entrepreneurs to think to themselves that they can also do that too. Role models inspire, that’s what we got from Tim Draper’s talks while he was talking about the importance of success stories created by entrepreneurs.
“VCs must provide the opportunity to entrepreneurs that have good visions and dreams for the future. This gives them hope and alternative of what they can do. In that way VCs do have an impact in providing that hope and opportunity. Once there is a big succes and it came form a VC backed company that”s where every says ‘I can do this too’.”
When we asked “What do you think about the sanctions being lifted, when entrepreneurs could potentially have access to markets beyond Iran and not limited to borders?”, the answer was: “It’s like the candy store just opened up to the kid. It’s about time Iranian entrepreneurs saw the rest of the world and were able to market to the rest of the world.” Exchange in technology was another topic that was discussed. Tim Draper thinks of it like the time where the soviet union and the Berlin wall collapsed and technologies were being exchanged between the west and the east. Same problems existed and different solutions were presented. As for the infection, the penicillin was presented in the US and immunity boosters were being built in Russia. “When you’re isolated you solve problems not the way everybody else was solving. Iran has some interesting technology to bring to the world,” said Tim Draper.
We asked Tim Draper if he was thinking of investing in Iran, and the answer was just as we expected: “You bet!”. Talking about investing in emerging markets and Iran some pros and cons came on the table. “In Silicon Valley engineers are really expensive and they have many alternatives to where to work. Great places for technological advances are Iran, Eastern Europe and other places that are well educated but didn’t have the opportunity to jump into the big world market,” stated the VC legend.
However, the US sanctions on Iran are still in place which prevents any US national or US based company to invest in Iran. We asked if something as big as sanctions will hold a venture capitalist off, or will they bypass that if opportunity calls. “Governments have to compete with one another now. If the US is not competing for me, I can go to another country. Now that we’re all so mobile with all these devices, governments have to compete for us. So for some reason the US is putting in sanctions and is keeping me from investing in some place where it’s a great opportunity and Europe is not doing that, maybe I become a European citizen. Governments have to keep this in mind, they are going to loose citizens the more burdens, the more regulations, the more negative forces that come from the government, the less willing people are going to be to stay there. This way the countries will lose business, capital and the driven people, the entrepreneurs.”
A great market and a good launch platform for global business, as well as highly educated and talented youth sums up of what we understand from Tim Draper. Here are the last words from Tim Draper to Iranian entrepreneurs. “As soon as you have a series of customers that continue to like your service and if you put a dollar in you get 5 dollars out, then it’s time to expand quickly. So you can go and build your business around the world. Now you can distribute a product faster and easier than ever before. If you got something people want and it’s valuable, spread it,”