Will Amazon and Google play defeat Digikala and cafebazar?
Here we talk about the opportunities and threats after big companies like Ebay and Amazon enter Iran. Nowdays a new chapter is opened for Iranian startups. Hamidreza Ahmadi. Founder of Ivand, Hadi Farnood, founder of Kamva, and Majid Kasiri, founder of Akhbare Rasmi, talked about this issue.
Jamili: startups didn’t experience the period before sanctions and they are established during sanctions. Is it a good division?
Farnood: it depends on how we define startup. If we consider it a small company which can develop, then old companies can be startup too.
Ahmadi: one the biggest things that they were deprived of was software. Companies like “Hamkaran System” or even “Chargoon” are old ones that are considered startup.
Jamili: I’m talking about ecosystem. This ecosystem didn’t experience period before sanction and in this situation what is the meaning of after-sanction period?
Ahmadi: when a person starts a startup, he is examining successful foreign samples. Foreign startups use google and other technological spaces for promotion and this was not the case for Iranian startups. But when there is no sanction, these startups can use this media.
Jamili: in which areas are startups affected by sanctions?
Ahmadi: the result has been that this area is not competitive.
Jamili: a part of sanctions affected international exchanges. Is facilitating these exchanges good for startups?
Farnood: in a startup you should use all the helps given to you. When international exchanges are faced with limitation, the probability of failure will increase.
Hashemi: is the law of visa issuance for those who have traveled to Iran a threat for startups?
Ahmadi: this is the saddest happening. This would make problems in foreign and domestic exchanges and it will damage startups as well.
Farnood: it is strange that Iranians didn’t object to this because it will make exchanges more difficult.
Hashemi: this question remains that whether startups whose ideas are driven from foreign samples can keep working after original ones enter Iran or not.
Ahmadi: successful startups like Digikala should have thought about their competitors from the beginning.
Farnood: when needs are the same, if you design an idea yourself, there would be many similarities. Online purchase is a need. Whatever online store you design, it would look like Ebay or Amazon or Digikala.
Ahmadi: Digikala is domestic and some online stores like Amazon can’t adopt itself to Iranian culture and taste.
Jamili: we are talking about a young ecosystem which is defeated by big companies?
Ahmadi: no need to worry; culture plays an important role in countries like Iran and domestic startups can be the biggest retailers in Iran.
Farnood: I think opportunities will not be removed. When this space becomes bigger, new opportunities would be made.
Ahmadi: the ecosystem which grows and becomes bigger will get the most profit. We don’t aim at remaining an Iranian startup regardless of its quality. Our advantage over foreign startups in Iran is content. We can produce content in audience language. These foreign companies should invest most part of their capital on producing content.
Farnood: one of the biggest problems of foreign companies is that they are not familiar with standards and rules of Iran market. These companies have global standards which are not suitable in Iran.
Jamili: thus business challenges in Iran is a competitive advantage for internal companies?
Farnood: yes, this is a fact.
Jamili: when big technology companies enter Iran, we should not be happy that we know better so we will be more successful. These companies can defeat even successful internal startups.
Farnood: it’s not bad that foreign companies enter Iran. It’s not bad that Iranian startups sell their company to a big one. It contributes to employment and competition.
Ahmadi: this is a good happening for customers.
Farnood: this is good for startups too. When you have a big competitor, you can grow.
Kasiri: when for example the market for automobile become open and people buy foreign automobiles, it means that domestic companies haven’t worked well. If Youtube comes and Aparat become closed, something is wrong with Aparat. Therefore, we should welcome competition. Also money and knowledge and competition always help businesses.
Jamili: big automobile companies are not allowed to come to Iran market because domestic automobile manufacturer will lose. Do you agree with such policies in the field of startups?
Ahmadi: if a person wants to buy something from Amazon, he/she can buy it right now. No one can stop him/her. Technology is different from import or automobile manufacturing. I think Digikala can compete with Amazon.
Hashemi: isn’t it optimistic?
Farnood: I think there is a little hesitation about cafebazar. Because it behind Google play in terms of technology.
Ahmadi: I don’t think so. When an update is offered for an app, you can just download that update, not the whole app again. This feature is offered in Cafebazar as well. There isn’t any big difference. And if you want to see Iranian apps, you should go to Cafebazar not Google play.
Farnood: App store have spent million dollars and have bought small companies so that they help it in optimizing a list which is shown its showcase. How much did Cafebazar work on such optimization? How much money did it spend? If Google play make a showcase for Iran, be sure that Cafebazar would face some problems.