It is hard for city startups to be known

On the second day of the Elcamp exhibition, there was a panel entitled “Ecosystem Minus the Capital: Is Everything Really Collected in Tehran?” It was held in which startup activists from cities such as Hamadan, Rasht, Isfahan, Sistan and Baluchistan, Tabriz and Bandar Abbas were present.

Saeba Selouki, who managed the panel, focuses on the field of student educational processes. Leila Keshavarz, who has two experiences in the Rasht ecosystem and now works as a co-founder of Norland in the field of educational mobile games to strengthen cognitive skills before elementary school in Tehran. Hasan Mohed, the CEO of Tashechin, which is an agricultural startup in Hamedan. Mohammad Sadegh Miri, the founder and CEO of Salam Studio startup, works in the field of health in Zahedan. Ehsan Abdipour works in Tabriz in the field of event organization and digital marketing. Mehrdad Yazdani is the managing director of iFund crowdfunding platform in Isfahan. Also, Hossein Hajizadeh is the CEO of Orange House and Orange Platform and works in Bandar Abbas.

About the start of her work in the startup ecosystem, Leila Keshavarz mentioned her student days and cooperation with the Gilan Science and Technology Park and said that she provided the first place for the park to work as a student team in 2013-2014. After some time, the idea of ​​simulating origami in the form of a mobile game, which was their experience, became the best idea of ​​the year, and they were able to register a company and become knowledge-based: “One of the advantages of working in cities other than Tehran is that the science and technology park is more enthusiastic than Young teams welcome and help them. Communication with the center of prosperity and creativity and science and technology park was one of the positive events of that time for us.”

Keshavarz says that their initial idea failed due to lack of business knowledge and making money. According to him, one of the biggest challenges for businesses in other cities is that they have to come to Tehran for any communication model, even to consult with experts. That’s why they came to Tehran when they finished their bachelor’s degree: “Here, whenever we need more knowledge, we easily find people in the field, but in Rasht, this possibility was not very available.”

Because of government interference, we are regressing every day

Hossein Hajizadeh, who has been running a startup in the field of organizing events in Bandar Abbas since 1994, says that their most important challenge was mentoring because of the distance: “In Tehran, there is no attention to other cities, and most of the cities do not have accelerators or VCI.” They have an innovation center in the science and technology park.

Mehrdad Yazdani, who has a start-up in the financial field in Isfahan, considers the most important challenge of his city to be political and extra-organizational interference: “Political lines were moving us from one side to the other, and we decided not to work with anyone even though we are based in the province. Many times when talking about our work, we have heard that they first wanted to know our relationship with the governor, for example, or when we went with Science and Technology Park, Azad University stopped working with us. These things happen when the environment is small, and we lived the mafia.”

Ehsan Abdipour says that the Tabriz ecosystem was much better in the past years. The years when big businesses started in Tabriz, but over time, due to the interference of governments and the like and the stonewalling that happened, instead of progressing every day, we were regressing: “Every day a new problem and concern. The government has messed everything up, they say either you do what we want or we don’t let you operate. They don’t care how much entrepreneurship and value creation is done.” This situation has caused many specialists to leave this city.

Yazdani also confirms his words and says that all the energy is wasted to control the fringes and stones are thrown in the way of their development.

Mohammad Sadiq Miri, who works in Sistan and Baluchistan, says that startups and businesses are hard to be recognized in the cities and they have to put in a lot of effort to introduce themselves: “Either they have to have connections or they are so stupid that this recognition happens. But in Tehran, because the access level is higher, startups with a lower level are easily recognized.”

He also points to the problem of talent migration from the cities to Tehran: “In the city, we have a problem in terms of human resources, and most of the specialists do not last long. In addition, the private sector is stronger in Tehran, and the government’s view is more constructive, and it is possible to communicate with different parts of the government. For example, there is a campus park, innovation factory and Box Sharif, and there are many co-working spaces and accelerators. In Sistan and Baluchistan, wherever you enter, you will face a problem called science and technology park, where the government representative does whatever he wants because he has no competition. For example, we wanted to organize an event for the relief committee, and we didn’t get much money, but they didn’t see the same and said, “Please, we will do it.” “The government has appointed Hakim Khan as an all-powerful representative and he decides on startup policies.”

Seluki points out that these problems exist at the macro level as well, but in the cities, due to their small size and people’s familiarity with each other, these problems are bigger and more visible.

We have been looking for 150 million low-interest loans for six months

In the continuation of this panel, Hasan Mowahed, a business activist in Hamedan, says that science and technology parks in the whole country, except for Tehran, are a directive. Regarding the distribution of credits, he says: “The Central Bank has the duty of fair distribution of credits, but the distribution center is Tehran, and the cities do not have access to credits. A few years ago, I wanted to create an innovation center in Tuiserkan. What is a memory for you is a wish for us. They had given the circular a long time ago, but the president believed that the budget would not arrive. However, it was hardly launched with consultations, but still after the past three years, the center has not been established. The country really does not give credit to the cities. Whereas if you draw a border around Tehran, there is nothing. All sources are in other cities, but credit is distributed in Tehran.

He adds: “We were told to become a member of the science and technology park so that we can allocate credit to you. We have been looking for 150 million tomans for a 4% low-interest loan for six months, and we recently found out that they want to give the same from the employment level. “The state of the cities is very bad.”

In completing his speech, Selouki says that every problem such as lack of motivation and entanglement of the private sector work by the government in Tehran, we have to multiply it in the cities: “Cities and provinces also have classifications, and the further you are from the center and the closer you are to the border, the problems multiply. You see, social and economic factors cast a shadow on work. We should worry about migration from the provinces to Tehran. “Specialists migrate because of the lack of support.”

Miri says about some of their activities in the Salamat Salam startup, when they were disappointed with the government and told themselves that if they don’t throw stones in front of them, they won’t ask for anything from them: “We launched a free skill scholarship in the education department last year and trained 200 people. And we said go to work and now they are earning money. We launched Medical Ted, the first course of which was held last month. We also looked for investors. This was the point where we were able to use the points of deprivation. We used to say that there is no health infrastructure in Sistan and that we are less developed and the atmosphere here is pristine and has enough customers to have a return on investment. Investors also accepted. This would not have happened if we were in Tehran. Now, we have 250 billion Tomans of investment without the help of the government, and 25 investors have invested for the sake of the province. We are indebted to Sistan and Baluchistan with all our lacks and less development.

The government’s wall is so high that it cannot be crossed

Abdipour goes back to his experience in Tabriz regarding the proposed solutions. To a city that says the government wall is so high and thick that it cannot be crossed. Although they have a science and technology park, there has been a fight between the private sector, the government and the municipality over the innovation factory for two years: “We decided to ignore the governments. Good businesses started their work in Tabriz, Bimito started in Tabriz but migrated to Tehran and became more successful in Tehran. If all the businesses are supposed to come to Tehran, there will be nothing left in other cities.”

Abdipour asks why businesses don’t take part of their teams to other cities: “Tabriz has professional teams; But we don’t have any accelerator, VC, or Angel. The government sector and the park, I wish it wasn’t a thousand times. But if we can attract a few accelerators and collaborators from the private sector, behind those people will grow and the ecosystem will grow. If I can’t, I will run away from Tabriz. Like many other friends who ran away.”

Hajizadeh mentions training as one of the important challenges: “We have to bring experts from Tehran because they have more experience due to their position. This increases the cost of education and events and unintentionally makes working conditions in the city difficult.”

At the end of this panel, Seluki says that if we want a country that is based on a digital and sustainable economy, it is expected to strengthen the private sector’s governance and remove obstacles: “Parks, which seem to be a helper and an arm of startups, have become an obstacle. With the good budgets they have in hand, they are expected to strengthen startups, but this is not happening, and we have to follow up on this matter from the vice-chancellor of science and technology.”

According to him, the government should also provide education subsidies as a facilitator and platform: “Education is very expensive for city startups, and if the government provides facilities for this work, many problems will be solved. Traveling a long distance just to get the lived experience of bigger cities and the training and learning is a heavy price that innovative businesses in other cities pay. Convergence of the private sector is also important. “If large holdings that have the financial ability are placed next to the private sector of distant provinces, we will not look towards the government.”

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