Stephan Chambers on iBridge Berlin

Stephan Chambers on iBridge Berlin

BPEDME’s Advisory Council member Stephan Chambers on iBridge Berlin in the Financial Times.

A thousand Iranians from around the world arrived in Berlin last week to talk entrepreneurship. Their project was not much short of building modernity through tech start-ups. They asked many good questions of each other; and one terrible question, “How can we be like Silicon Valley?” — one that should be banished from the entrepreneurial canon from Shoreditch to Singapore.

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Western Investors Eye Iran’s Tech Sector

In the week following the framework nuclear deal between world powers and Iran, Tehran-based Internet entrepreneur Faty Amir Soleimani pitched every day to Western investors for funding.

“We started getting a lot interest from foreigners,” said Ms. Soleimani, who runs an e-commerce site for baby products called Koodakoo. “When I say a lot, it was really a lot.”

Amid a global glut of investment into Internet companies, Ms. Soleimani’s experience suggests that Western investors are eyeing perhaps their most risky bet yet: Iranian startups.

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Iranian entrepreneurs thirst for foreign funding, expertise

A support system of mentors, seed funders and venture-capital funds has begun to take shape, but financing can still be hard to find and, while Iran produces many top-class computer engineers, business experience is still scarce.

“Access to finance for start-ups is still at a very nascent stage,” Mohsen Malayeri, co-founder of the Iran Entrepreneurship Association, told Reuters at the iBridge conference.

“We have talented engineers but understanding market dynamics is different.”

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Building Bridges Through Entrepreneurship, Istanbul

Building Bridges Through Entrepreneurship, Istanbul




In October 2014, Borsa İstanbul and University of California, Berkeley launched the inaugural International Entrepreneurship Conference with the theme “Building Bridges through Entrepreneurship: Turkey’s Rise as a Startup Nation in Regional and Global Perspectives”, to great success.

t the Conference, opened by the then Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, the renown national and international speakers scrutinized and analyzed the common trends impacting entrepreneurship in their respective countries as well as what regional countries could learn from each other’s successes and failures in promoting innovation and entrepreneurship.

The conference also explored the mechanisms for building and strengthening bridges between successful American, Turkish and Middle Eastern entrepreneurs and their aspiring counterparts throughout the region.

The Conference has attracted great attention, witnessing over 300 international participants including entrepreneurs, investors, business people, developers and innovators.

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Americans Scour Tehran for Assets as Iranians Open Doors

The visit is one element in a rapidly shifting business landscape in Iran as investors prepare for a lifting of the sanctions if a nuclear deal is signed in coming months between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and world powers.

Rouhani’s election in 2013 on a reformist platform had already brought “a huge change of interest in Iran,” said Rouzbeh Pirouz, Harvard-educated chairman of Turquoise. “Now, with the prospect of the nuclear agreement, that interest has been much, much more.”

The group showed the outsiders the best-performing sectors in Iran: cement, which benefits from low energy costs; mobile telecommunications in a country of 80 million people with mobile phone penetration of 105 percent; and food and beverages, in which one firm, Behshahr Industrial Development Corp., quadrupled its profits over the past two years. Read more.