Happy Norooz to all my fellow Persian entrepreneurs. For those unfamiliar with the holiday, it is like Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and Easter rolled into one. Norooz begins annually on the vernal equinox and marks the start of the Iranian calendar. This year, Norooz falls on Monday, March 20.
Norooz is a 13-day celebration of renewal and rebirth. Much like New Year’s, it makes me pause and reflect upon life as an Iranian entrepreneur. Looking back over the past year, my fellow Persian entrepreneurs and I have had many opportunities and challenges.
From a political standpoint, I try to remain bipartisan. There have, however, been some significant events over the past year impacting Persian entrepreneurs, both in Iran and abroad. The Iran nuclear deal, for example, was a monumental beginning to improving three decades of a turbulent relationship between the U.S. and Iran. A more positive relationship between countries means more opportunities for entrepreneurs, including exposure to a greater number of investors and potential customers.
On the other hand, the current administration’s travel ban is creating controversy and new ill will. It is a step back and, for the entrepreneurs, stands to break down positive momentum.
What many people may not realize is that entrepreneurship is hot in Iran. More than 400 startups operate in Tehran alone. This generation of entrepreneurs are aggressive, collaborative, and vibrant. They go the extra mile to make it because, for most, that is their only ticket to the life of their dreams.
The universities like Sharif University of Technology (also known as MIT of Iran) are creating a good environment for startups, and a focus on inclusion. For example, over 70% of STEM students in Iran are women and, therefore, they are a major force to build new startups.
Around the world, the Persian entrepreneurs are creating startups that don’t have geographic borders and, to some extent, no cultural limitations. Their goal, like other entrepreneurs, is simple: they want access to resources and capital to build their ideas into companies.