By S. F. Z. Jalili

Move over, Silicon Valley: Finding innovation in Tehran

December 28, 2016 - 9:4

Technology is evolving fast, and we’re both fascinated and uneasy about where it could potentially lead. When we reflect on the evolution of technology in the realm of communication, we’ve come a long way in a very short time.

 In particular the instant messaging phenomenon hit a home run with the coming of versatile communication platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, and later with the emergence of Instagram, Snapchat, Vine and Tumblr that focused on visual-sharing.

What all these online social media services have in common, besides their net worth of billions and focus on social networking, is that they are simultaneously the perpetuators and the products of an unprecedented startup movement that was initially started in the West but has since then spread even to the very isolated corners of the world.
In the Islamic Republic of Iran, with a population of nearly 80m people, of which over 60 percent are under 30, we haven’t lagged behind in establishing new innovative businesses that have went onto become success stories.

In July 2014, the Economist valued the top three Iranian start-ups with Digikala coming on top with an estimated $150m; then Aparat at $30m; and Cafe Bazaar at $20m. Since then, their respective net worth has skyrocketed, and new players have entered the pitch, such as an online shopping platform Bamilo and a widely successful ride-sharing network, Snapp.

The significant section that is left in the shadows, then, is communication. There has been a widening gap in the market that has not been acknowledged in Iran due to the popularity of Western messaging platforms and their convenience. Considering the amount of inconsistencies and hindrance we face in our daily communication apps, it is surprising that the lack of more efficient communication platforms in the country, or even in the region, haven’t been challenged by local entrepreneurs.

There is a major communication uncertainty that affects the way we interact in today’s world. The nature of human communication is contextual, requiring a demonstrative backdrop for the discussions we have, but present communication methods people are using are not built this way; meaning we are obliged to jump from platform to platform, and app to app, to cover our ever-increasing communication needs. This does not only fragment our linear and otherwise coherent communication but also decreases the power of our spoken and written word.

This is where Nested decided to come in; a recently launched team-to-team messaging platform that is self-funded by four Iranian young men that wish to build a bridge between what we want to communicate and how we want it communicated, so that it would be addressed in the right manner, with the right context, to the right persons, and at the right time.

The platform is available on iOS, Android and the usual web application, and promises time-saving and productivity-enhancing features: one of their most distinguished features is called ‘Place’ which allows you to organize your communication the way you would in real life: housing your interactions with different people and groups into different communal ‘Places’ according to their context.

The brain behind Nested is Ehsan Nouredin Moosa who is currently developing Nested with a team of 20 talented developers and visionaries. He introduces Nested as a purpose-built platform that seeks to enhance our existing methods of communications without forcing us to forego the services we already use.

 “Leadership and collaboration is all about effective communication, but our current tools don’t allow this without extra hassle. For example, emailing wasn’t built for the way we use it today, but now we’ve come to build our most important interactions around it,” he asserts.

Farzin Nami, Nested’s Executive Director, and Sina Boostani, the Chairman, both agree that there was a need for a legitimate digital space where people could be assured in having all their communications and related files secured into one single platform without fearing disarray, miscommunication or losing trace of the origins of the messages.
“Iranians have great potential in creating new ideas and we have an admirable history of innovators and pioneers,” Nami claims with a contagious smile, “and I think the time has come we contribute to the future of digital communication and technology with a product that has had its inception in Iran.”

Boostani describes the platform as an easy communication platform that also increases our efficiency in the work sphere. “It’s not that I’m endorsing our product,” he laughs, “I’m just stating the truth. We’ve worked very hard to develop a platform that would improve our communities and enhance our communications without cluttering our digital space, and I think our development team has done an incredible job in building a neat and easy-to-understand user-friendly interface,” he says.

For the paradox of increased competition but relatively little available funding, it is undoubtable that profitability is critical to the perseverance and success of a company. The boys all affirm that the support of the Iranian nation can be a make-or-break deal for them.

“Essentially, it’s a platform made to be used internationally, from the little towns in Ireland and New Zealand to the megacities like Tokyo and London,” Nami continues with an expression of heavy cognizance, “but, you know, this time it’s not going to be from Silicon Valley. This time everyone will say, it’s made in Tehran.”


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