BLOG Posts

Home >> Archive by category "BLOG Posts"
7 Things You Need to Know Before Doing Business in IRAN

7 Things You Need to Know Before Doing Business in IRAN

Iran is indeed among the most attractive and high potential markets of the world. But doing business in Iran is not that easy. It takes a lot of effort for foreign businesses to understand the eco-cultural climate of the country in order to unfold its unlimited opportunities.

In May 2017, President Rouhani was re-elected for a second term. A government known for its sustainable development and close ties and communications with other countries. This is a change —and whenever there is a change, there are winners and losers. So it’s time to know how to take good advantage of this change to join the side of winners at this point. The new cabinet is young, and they’ve been approved by the parliament with high percentages of confirmation.

On the other hand, for those who are interested in Iran’s startup scene, the youngest of the cabinet is the Minister of ICT. Also the Science and Technology Vice President remains in his position to help the sustainability of the ecosystem. In fact, knowledge-based companies are more important to the government than entrepreneurial activities and risk-taking sort of businesses. These companies are in-line with the resistive economy and the government sees startups as a leverage for administrating the resistive economy.

Startup community of Iran is gradually developing itself. Tons of events and Startup Weekends are taking place every week all around the country. You can also check out Iran’s startup ecosystem map which we’ve made back in Sep 2016. In this ecosystem map, we talked about nine role players which are advisors, incubators, venture capital companies, users, accelerators, events, startups, angel investors and the government. It can be seen that the nine key role players have developed by 30 to 40 percent since that map was made last year.

Read more on TECHRASA >>

SWOT Analysis of Iran Startup Ecosystem

SWOT Analysis of Iran Startup Ecosystem

When you think of investing time, energy and resources on startups in Iran, the following SWOT and it's Farsi article might be useful. To read the article click here:

کارآفرینی در ایران: فرصت، تهدید، ضعف و قوت

Published on فرصت چند روزه تعطیلات تقویمی، زمانی برای تأمل بر حوزه مورد علاقه ام (اکوسیستم استارتاپی ایران) به وجود آورد که حاصل آن را -- کمی منظم شده، با شما در میان میگذارم. اما قبل از آن اجازه دهید تا مقداری به بررسی اینکه کجای کار هستیم و زمینه ی موضوعی بحث چیست توضیح بیشتری دهم.

Reza Ghiabi's Iran startup ecosystem swot analysis

بررسی اکوسیستم کارآفرینی کنونی ایران نشاندهنده ی آن است که این اکوسیستم مانند دیگر موجود اعتباری ، میتواند فرصت ها، تهدیدها، ضعفها و قوتهای درونی و بیرونی زیاد...

How Startup Ecosystem is Changing Iran’s Economics Dynamics

How Startup Ecosystem is Changing Iran’s Economics Dynamics

In the past month my colleague Yasaman Dadfar and I did our usual seasonal startup ecosystem review for Iran at SWPars Ventures which led to this article. This article refers to the current startup situation of Iran, nearly 2 months before the 2017 presidential elections.

According to the sixth development program and mutation in policy of investment, especially in (ICT) field, conditions for foreign investment has been facilitated by the ecosystem. Iran conditions are convenient for foreign investment, because of the large number of young workforce, educated, abundant resources in Iran and high costs of energy sources in other countries.

Entrepreneurial success in any society depends on several factors such as environment, opportunity and culture. The statistics show the impact of weak culture scores in this region on performance. Nonetheless, the support and investment environment in tech startups is on the rise in the MENA region and emerging markets.

The Seedstars Index (SSI) to measure the quality, maturity and future potential of some ecosystems in 2015. The three pillars have been measured across over 15 underlying factors, hundreds of on-the ground interviews as well as the qualitative research and quantitative research were conducted in each country. Scores range from 0-100 (0 worst, 100 best). The index score to indicate how much the entrepreneurship ecosystem is over or underperforming compared to the general economy.

The index score to indicate how much the entrepreneurship ecosystem is over or underperforming compared to the general economy.

The entry of foreign investors not only produce wealth, technical knowledge and transfer of technologies, but also the positive enjoyment of cultural assets in other countries.

As you see in the diagram, only one country in MENA is an out performance, while 4 are under performance and 1 is in line with the expectations which is Iran. If we compare Iran with the Egypt which is the only country in MENA is an out performance. It is easy to understand the most opportunities in tech startups is gathered in Iran.

During the decade long implementation of sanctions on Iran to cripple the $400 billion economy on multiple levels, Iranian startups have had to operate without access to foreign markets, finances, and social media channels. Many used this to their advantage by creating their localized versions of international startups and building startups according to local needs, including the Amazon-inspired marketplace Digikala — now valued at up to $500 million, the Groupon-like Takhfifan, leading Android app store Café Bazaar, audio and video streaming services Aparat (YouTube) and Navaak (Spotify), Esam (similar to Ebay), social network Cloob, and Hamijoo (Kickstarter). Among successful startups we can indicate to Snapp in Iran and Careem in Emirates which both are working in the transportation field.  


Careem's current position is Snapp's near future

Careem is a multinational transportation network company operating an app-based car booking service company based in Dubai. As of March 2016, Careem is available in 11 countries and over 40 cities in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA) region. Careem has secured funding of 421.7 million U.S. Dollars to date  with a start seed funding of 1.7 million U.S. Dollars in a round led by STC Ventures in 2013. This was followed over a year later with funding of 10 million U.S. Dollars led by Al Tayyar Travel Group and STC Ventures. In November 2015, Careem announced a Series C investment of US$60 million led by The Abraaj Group.

Snapp on the other hand, is a ride-hauling company from TehranIran. Snapp launched in February 2014 under the name Taxi Yab. Users can request a taxi cab via the iOS or Android app and via their website. Currently Snapp only operates in Tehran, although they are looking to expand to new cities, and may even seek to expand internationally. TechCrunch announced on October 9, 2016 that it had received a $20 million investment in a Series A round led by MTN Group, a South-African multinational. Shahram Shahkar, the CEO of the company said that the company now employs 10,000 drivers, but did not disclose any revenue numbers. Snapp is one of several startups that have been making rapid progress by foreign investors. According to the statistics, we can say the current position of Careem is very close for Snapp,in the other world we can say today of Careem will be tomorrow of Snapp.


NOW is the time

Iran has one of the world's largest oil reserves. But unlike its neighbors, Iran also has a quite diverse and balanced economy. For this reason, the country has the largest gross domestic product (GDP) 3 in the Middle East, behind Turkey and Saudi Arabia, but before the "rich countries" such as Emirates and Qatar. With the lifting of sanctions, Iran on attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) in non-oil industries is the key.

Inline with the sixth development plan, the government is trying to promote entrepreneurship and technology arm with the budget assigned to presidential office. Although there is a need for simplifying regulations and removing several barriers in terms of certifications, taxes, etc., I think now is the time for foreign investors to do their research and bring their smart money to Iran.

Based on the system dynamics theory, an organization that plans to introduce an innovative product, may need to understand market dynamics in order to design and produce marketing plans.

A causal loop diagram is a simple map of a system with all its constituent components and their interactions. The above diagram shows a causal loop diagram reveals the structure of a system. By understanding the structure of a system, it becomes possible to ascertain a system's behavior over a certain time period. Both feedback loops act simultaneously, but at different times they may have different strengths. Thus, one would expect growing sales in the initial years, and then declining in the later years.

Same pattern applies to Iran startup ecosystem having one of the highest growth rates in the world during 2014 and experiencing change difficulties in it's clash with other old yet powerful economic ecosystems in the country. One example is taxi drivers reacting to online ride sharing services. And the result is beautiful leading taxi drivers and agencies to offer better services, and some thinking of opening and online service themselves.


It's a good time to think about Iran

The Iran entrepreneurship ecosystem is still one of the most fast growing ecosystems in the region. To reach an average 8 percent economic growth during the next five-year period, the Iranian administration is shifting from a bank-based financial system into a more market-based one (for instance switching the trend of financing away from banks towards securities market). This would create greater plenty of opportunities and special incentives to entice overseas investments.

Iran’s primary and secondary capital market indices (TEDPIX and IFX respectively), have always reflected the country’s economic situation, clearly. During the past six months, despite some specific occasions when some emotional responses have influenced the market’s behavior, the general trend of the market has been rational. 

The current population of Iran is around 80 million and 53 million of which are below the age of 35 while the country has the second largest internet user base in the Middle East and Africa, 55 million are Internet users. Iran has the highest number of educated individuals in the MENA region as well as the highest mobile penetration rate in the region at 120%.

On the other hand smartphone volume grows rapidly in Iran. Total retail volume of smartphones in Iran was 2.4 million units in 2014. The market is expected to grow to 3.7 million units by 2018 as a result of the government continuously granting additional 3G and 4G licenses.

Iran has the rank of 96 in terms of NRI. NRI index measures the capacity of countries in usages of ICT for competitiveness and welfare of their people.

Iran has the rank of 96 in terms of NRI

Putting all information together it seems that in terms of opportunity, as one of the largest emerging markets in the world, Iran's startup scene is promising. Yet, the market needs and shows some of the greatest opportunities to more smart money accompanying with international entrepreneurship experience and innovation. It is time for smart investors to start getting involved with Iran startup scene through strategic partnerships with Iran's private sector.

Iran Startup Ecosystem by September 2016

Iran Startup Ecosystem by September 2016

It takes more than one player to build an ecosystem. From organizations focused on building tech talent to some of the best accelerator programs in the country, Iran's startup community continues to evolve and grow at a rapid pace. Here’s a snapshot of the community surrounding our entrepreneurs mapped by ILIA\\OPPMAKR Consulting and SWPars Investment Company.

Note: Because our vibrant ecosystem and the startup space overall is constantly evolving, we may have missed some organizations or meetup groups. If that’s the case, let us know what we missed in the comments below so that we can keep our map as up-to-date as possible.

Iran Startup Ecosystem by September 2016

It takes more than one player to build an ecosystem. From organizations focused on building tech talent to some of the best accelerator programs in the country...

Why & How to Make a Better “Made in Iran” Brand

Why & How to Make a Better “Made in Iran” Brand

There is a new trend which has been growing for more than 3 year now in Iran's economy. It seems like every organization within Iran is trying to support manufacturers and service providers inside Iran. But how? my suggestion is via having a better "Made in Iran" brand. In below article I tried to describe why and how Iran needs a better national brand as well as suggestions for both government and private organizations. As the target audience is within Iran, this article is in Persian:

چگونه وقتی عبارت «ساخت ایران» حس خوبی نمی‌دهد، از تولید ملی حمایت کنیم؟

X The Unknown: My TEDx Story

X The Unknown: My TEDx Story

It is now more than 6 years that TED —a conference with the mission of sharing “Ideas Worth Spreading”, launched one of the world’s most successful programs called TEDx. A TEDx is a TED-like event for the local communities. According to TED, the mission for TEDx is to "empower communities everywhere to organize events that connect people, spread ideas and inspire positive impact.”

But this was not the mission for TEDx from the beginning. TEDx evolved and shaped it self and it’s mission. In other words people who are involved in organizing and attending TEDx'es are evolving. Just in the past 12 months, about 9,000 organizers all around the globe, organized more than 3,000 events producing 18,000 TEDxTalks presenting local ideas worth spreading. Collectively together these talks had views more than 450 million times. Among these TED-like experiences, is TEDxTehran, the first and the largest TEDx event in Iran which kicked off in 2013. I am very much involved in organizing TEDxTehran and this is my TEDx story.

Reza Pakravan, record breaking cyclist talking about "Making a Bold Decisions" at TEDxTehran 2014. Photo: Ali Taheri

 In 1999, I was one of a few lucky Iranians who had access to 36kb/second internet connection. kkkkccssshhhhhhhh… suddenly the sound of my little fax modem would brought me to these parallel universes, I discovered the power of the internet. But it wasn't until ten years later, that I found true power of deep connection. I remember, I was reading a blog when I suddenly saw this video named Barry Schwartz: The Paradox of Choice. It took me about three hours to download the video and I watched it over and over. It was the perfect time for me to hear this idea. It was that ‘aha’ moment for me , when I finally realized how to cope with too many choices. At the end of the video —or as TED put’s it: talk, I saw this red lovely logo: TED. When I clicked on the link below the talk, the website had about 50 videos on it, each presenting a simple, yet interesting idea of the world around me. I commented on one with the little english I knew, and immediately someone replied, the feeling of me being read and respond to was wonderful. I was part of a global movement of ideas.

I followed TED ever since, being that curious individual who had this little conversations with other people in coffeeshops, get togethers, and classes about these ideas. Until, someday out of curiosity I googled [TED + Iran] and found an article on TEDx Tumblr announcing a TEDx is going to happen in Iran.

“I love everything about TED, I very much like to help TEDx taking place in my hometown. I can help in so many ways…”, was among the lines of the email I sent and resent a couple of times to TEDxTehran. In reply I finally received and email mentioning “At this stage the most important thing is awareness” and in the signature area it was “TEDxTehran Team” who were talking to me. Suddenly I found myself in a mission, to share the good news with my friends! At the time I had about 200 Facebook friends. I persistently reached out to them to "like" TEDxTehran FB page, 190 liked, 10 blocked, I did my best!

Fast forward to before the first TEDx event in Iran, the co-organizer, Sara Mohammadi interviewed me for the team. I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep properly the night before. I went there and we talked and she asked me questions and all I had in mind is that, please give me a chance to be a part of this. I’m not sure if I deserve it, but I need it.

Less than two weeks later, I received an email starting with “Congratulations. You have been accepted as part of the TEDxTehran Volunteer Team”. I was in! I was happy and passionate. So I did what I always do when I love my job, I did my best, and Sara did what every good leader does, she saw qualities in me and gave me the chance to bring the best out of them. The team was well organized and enthusiastic. We did the first TEDx in Iran and after that I kept working and working until Sara passed the torch to me to organize TEDxTehran

Sara Mohammadi welcomes TEDxTehran 2013 audience to the first TEDx experience in Iran, Photo: Mani Lotfi Zadeh

Job satisfaction comes with finding a meaning in what you do, and what can be more satisfying for me to do such a meaningful job bringing people together to have local and global conversation. So I started learning, TEDx rules, recommendations, files from other organizers and the best experience ever: attending TEDActive 2014

At the event not only I had the fun of my life, met some of the TED speakers who changed my life, and learned so many great ideas, I found that having a TED-like experience is not just about having great ideas on your stage, but it’s hidden in activating opportunities for people to meet and creating a “platform” for them to open their minds and “listen” to each other as well as “sharing their stories”. You see, in a TEDx, everyone is a speaker! 

I got to talk to Simon Sinek about my why! TEDActive 2014: Design Studio Workshop

Why TEDx?

Here is what I think differentiates a TEDx from regular conferences:

Regular conferences
  • Have one to many speeches
  • Find celebrities in different topics to give speeches
  • Focuses on one specific topic
  • Speakers or organizers are at the center of attentions
  • Owned by an agenda
  • Have a message from an organization or a person to public
TEDx experiences
  • Have many to many talks
  • Create celebrities by selecting the most enthusiastic person to share
  • Presents diverse topics across disciplines
  • People are at the center of the attention
  • Creates it’s own agenda as it happens
  • Have a community by community message

Tehraners on Tabiat Bridge, Photo: Mohammad Hassan Ettefagh

Why Tehran?

I deeply believe within each and every second of each person’s life, there are unlimited opportunities waiting to be activated. An opportunity to grow, to be better, thus to make the world a better place. With a population of around 9 million in the city and 16 million in the wider metropolitan area, Tehran is the largest city and urban area of Iran, the second largest city in Western Asia, and the 3rd largest in the Middle East. Tehran is always awake, you may sometimes see traffic jam in 2am! 

As a essence of Iranians, Tehran is diverse. In this loving city, Persians, Kurds, Lurs, Turkic, Arabs, Armenians, and so many other groups came together to work and live together. This make a perfect case for a TEDx, bring people across different backgrounds, cultures, views together. 

X the unknown

Honestly, when they ask me why do I TEDx, I don’t know what to reply. I guess I enjoy the “unknown” people make when they are around each other, and I believe people do something great for themselves and each other as long as they feel belonged to a community that accepts them. While I’m sure it’s good for everyone, I’ll let good things happen as I help bringing people together to inspire positive effect. 

TEDxTehran inspired me to be a better person, encouraging me to develop personal and inter personal skills. I also try my best to do the same for others specially in our team. In TEDxTehran we have natural leaders, people who voluntarily dedicate and sometimes sacrifice their time and effort to bring a TED-like experience for others. 

TEDxTehran 2014 volunteer team, Photo: Mani Lotfi Zadeh

It was lunch time at our 2015 event on December 4, where we found out the company that was managing out catering forgot to bring enough bottle openers so our team can open 1000 bottles the attendees. I was passing one of our volunteers, Hassan who was helping with the catering. Hassan was opening drink bottles with his bear hands causing his right hand to bleed. I ran to him and told him to stop, in which he replied: “don’t we want the best TEDx experience for our attendees? I don’t want them to wait in line for too long, so I can’t wait for the can opener to arrive, I’ll do it myself.” This is more than volunteering, this is sacrificing for the others, a common habit for all leaders. 

X is unknown for me like an unknown road in which you can see a gorgeous light shining at the end of the horizon. A light which shows that you are in a right tack, yet you have so many things to do to reach there. 

I was attended TEDGlobal>Geneva a few days ago. Beside so many cool technologies I got to see and so many great ideas I got to hear, there was so many cool “people” who were there to get inspired and to connect with each other to understand more. That’s the feeling I would love for every TEDx attendee to have.

Feeling like a family after spending three days together, only at TED, Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Here is How to Sell: Don’t!

Here is How to Sell: Don’t!

If you have almost anything as "your's", then you'd be familiar with the concept of buying and on the other hand selling. Whether it's your old car, old furniture, company product or even your idea, on some point we all want to sell successfully. And here is a million dollars question: How do can you sell successfully? Well, here is what I found out, read on.

A fun fact: people ain't no fools!

There is a tremendous amount of articles, books and instructions about how to "win" the sales. From one-person companies to online retailers to multi-national organizations, most of them have instructions for their sales team (or sales-persons) how to persuade their customer to buy what they are selling. Unfortunately most of the instruction techniques consists on giving bad information, include hidden fees or play the waiting game. I also got familiar with a more advanced set of techniques to manipulate the customer's mind when I was mentoring in a Startupweekend of neuroscientists in Tehran. There are several ways of manipulating human mind to buy products under the subject of Neuromarketing. But here is the problem with these kinds of techniques: people are no fools, they have the power of information on their finger tips and they use it to catch the manipulating sales-person!

81% of shoppers conduct online research before buying, explains Kimberlee Morrison in Social Times. They search the internet, research about similar products, compare and most importantly share their experience. At ClickZ Live San Francisco, Google Analytics Advocate Adam Singer said the average person consults 10.4 sources before finally making a purchase. This generally spans channels, is sparked by in-store visits and revisited with email messages, and continued across search and business websites. The same behavioral patterns apply to business consumers where the purchases are more serious. According to the 2014 State of B2B Procurement study from the Acquity Group, 94 percent of business buyers do some form of online research. The same behavioral patterns apply to individual consumers.

Look through the eyes of your audience.

Selling and buying are not new things, from ages ago when people wanted or needed something, they either just took it if is not somebody else's or they try to barter with the owner. What it is common in every transaction, barter or purchasing, is that there is always a problem scenario on the customer side. The problem scenario refers to what the customer feels as a problem and tries to ease or solve it with the barter or transaction. So instead of being a seller talking about ourselves, our company, our products, it is for the best if businesses can look through the eyes of the person who actually has a problem and try to understand them. That's why demographic market segmentation consisting of age, weight average income and etc, is not enough alone. Because when we see our people in person and we want to build trust, we don't ask them for such demographics, we ask about how they think, how they see the world, how they feel and what they do. And that called "persona segmentation". It seems, businesses need to know their customers in persona level, so that if we are the CEO of our company and we walk down the street, we can recognize our customers from a mile away. 

Use AIDA (OR) as a platform for your sales process.

Normally there is a common process that customers go through. As mentioned above, selling and buying are not new things. From centuries ago, traders found that they need to complete 4 certain steps to sell successfully. Nowadays there is additional 2 steps. The whole process called AIDA (OR). 

AIDA(OR) Process
  • A for "Attention" or awareness - First you need to get the attention of your customer. They should be aware of you and your product existence. And when they do, they give a little bit of their time to you to see your offering.
  • I for "Interest" - Here is your chance to give something interesting to your customer. Whether it's a presentation, poster, etc. it needs to be interesting to keep the focus of the customer on what you are offering.
  • D for "Desire" - This is a tricky step because no matter how you get your customer's attention, and you raise their interest, if what you offer is not a match for what they have in mind as their "problem scenario", it's no use. Your product or service needs to solve your customer's problem and to be a match for what they need. That's why it is very important to know your customers. 
  • A for "Action" - Here you ask your customer to do something in return for the first three steps. Whether it's pushing the download button, or a kind of payment, the action step needs to be simple and easy to do for your customer. Now, until this step, IF you take your costumer's attention, raise their interest level, match with their desire, there is a good chance they do the action you want, and this is probably where you sell your service or product. But this is not the last step. You want your customers not just to be your buyers but to be your ambassadors. That's where you should think of the O and the R.
  • O for "On-Boarding" - This is where you take responsibility not just for the product or service you sold, but the experience they have with your product. That's why you should create a version of "how-to" and show your customer how exactly they can bring the most out of your product. This can be a manual like most of the electric products have, or it can be collection of simple tips on a mobile app.
  • R for "Retention" - This is where you make sure your customer is not just happy for a minute, and you try to keep your customer satisfied as long as she/he uses your product. So you send retention emails to customer, ask for ratings, reviews and the most important thing: ask them to share their experience with others. It seems organizations who sell this way, build trust and grow organically.

Selling "Why" vs. Selling "What" - Watch the TEDTalk behind: Start with Why from Simon Sinek

The Three Paradigm Shifts

  • From Sales Campaigns to Movements > Originally the word "campaign" is a military word and whether it's in politics or advertisement, the mindset behind a campaign is still a step by step how-to, to reach a specific goal which is most likely in interest of the campaign owners. What is different with the "movement" is that, a movement starts with a leader and probably never ends until it satisfies shared interests of the whole group.
  • From Sales People to Thought Leaders > The other paradigm shift I want to draw your attention to, is that the time for "selling" something is over. If businesses want long term sustainable sales, it is important for the people responsible for their sales, to lead the way for their followers and think of them as "people", not numbers or targets. And I think I have to emphasize here, people can really sense that if we are thinking of solving their problem or picking their money out of their pockets.
  • From Costumers to Loyal Followers > As Simon Sinek mentions constantly, there is a huge difference between "repeated business" and "loyalty". By thinking our costumers as followers, we end-up making true loyal costumers. The difference is that true loyal customers, do not turn because they see a shortage in price, quality, etc. they'll love you and your product like it's their own and like it's a part of their identity.

I think the bottom line here is, if businesses want to sell their product or services in a sustainable way and benefit from a long-term relationship with their costumers, they need to think of solving problems of their customers more instead of talking about themselves.

What other things do you believe helps companies to sell their products while they solve their customers problems? Share them in the comment section below.

Information is NOT Power Anymore, Knowledge Is

Information is NOT Power Anymore, Knowledge Is

If you ask any corporate c-executive or high end consultant "what drives a business?", chances are the answers you get have all one word in common: "information". But now that there are huge information sharing tools like creative commons, wikipedia, and basically the whole internet, differentiating a business through information sounds not like a good idea. And more over I have to ask, where does this idea take us?

It was reading one of the Deloitte's brochures that gave me the idea of writing this article. In the brochure,  not only Deloitte —the largest professional services network in the world, suggested that organizations should differentiate themselves by having more information, they literally used the phrase "Information is power" as a heading. Now, I don't say not having information drives any organization to growth, but just having the information and more importantly not sharing it with others is not also a good solution to growth.

The idea that "information is power" is misleading

The idea that “information is power” is misleading, and causes many people to create roadblocks to their own success. And it’s about more than just the distinction that “information applied is power” – even that variation has problems. Power and influence is not something most organizations, entrepreneurs and people share willingly. They tend to use their power to create differentiation, and they want to be different to gain power. I was browsing the internet and I came across this particular quote from a corporate employee in the U.S:

One of my friends has repeatedly told me NOT to share information with colleagues because this will give me competition in the subject-matter. He indicated that if the team lead wants to select a particular person for a task, I might be passed over for this project in favor of a colleague, who may have learned the subject-matter originally from me.

If our leaders and corporate managers assume that information and power is equal, they encourage everyone in the company to not to share anything as "you may lose your power". Giving we are social animals and we live in a era that sharing is fast, almost free of charge and unpreventable, we all just need to accept the fact that whether we share the information or not, people and our competitors are going to find out.


There is a model about levels of understanding called The Continuum of Understanding created by Cleveland in 1982. In the article he argues that understanding is the basis for action, and the source of achievement. People gain understanding through context, experiences and knowledge. Context allows the weaving together of the various relationships of experiences. The greater the context, the greater the variety of experiences that can be drawn
from. The greater the understanding of a subject, the more experiences can be weaved into new knowledge by absorbing, doing, interacting, and reflecting. Thus, understanding is a continuum from data to information to knowledge to wisdom.

  • Data is generated through research, creation, gathering, and discovery.
  • Information has context. Data is turned into information by organizing it so one can easily draw conclusions. Data is also turned into information by "presenting" it, such as expressing it through visual or auditory means.
  • Knowledge has the complexity of experience, which comes about by seeing it from different perspectives. Information is static, but knowledge is dynamic as it lives within us.
  • Wisdom is the ultimate level of understanding. As with knowledge, wisdom operates within us. We can share our experiences that create the building blocks for wisdom, however, it needs to be communicated with even more understanding of the personal contexts of the audience than with knowledge sharing.

Often, the distinctions between data, information, knowledge, and wisdom are not very discrete, thus the distinctions between each term may seem more like shades of gray, rather than black and white (Shedroff, 2001). Data and information deal with the past. They are based on the gathering of facts and adding context. Knowledge deals with the present. It lives within us and enables us to perform. However, when we gain wisdom, we start dealing with the future. We are then able to envision and design for what will be rather than for what is or was.


The differentiating factor for organizations is shifting from information to knowledge

Knowledge is power

As mentioned above, knowledge is a direct result of putting information in to the field, and I think that's the true power. Organizations should share the information as it is their duty to share with those who they care about such as their employees, customers and communities and also leverage the knowledge of putting such information in action as their differentiation factor.

All in all, it seems that the information era and various ways of technology connecting everyone and everything, shifts the differentiation factor for organizations and professionals from information to knowledge. It means, not only it is our duty to share information, it is not even profitable to withhold information since people and even our competitors will find out one way or another. What is valuable now, is for sure the knowledge.

Giving the development of knowledge sharing tools, I also anticipate there will be another shift from knowledge to wisdom. And then, the only thing that matters the most will be the wisdom organization, groups of people and individuals will have in hand.

Talk back, what do you think will be the next step for DIKW sharing? What are the challenges we face if and when the game changes? Share your thoughts, ideas, inspirations, challenges, and solutions on sharing and differentiating through information and knowledge.

How to (Properly) Use Business Model Canvas

How to (Properly) Use Business Model Canvas

When Dr. Reza Nassirzadeh inspired me to conduct innovation workshops at the Industrial Management Institute of Iran, I instantly remembered Business Model Canvas.

As the Strategyzer describes, "the Business Model Canvas, is a strategic management and entrepreneurial tool. It allows you to describe, design, challenge, invent, and pivot your business model."

Alex Cowan provides detailed presentations on BMC. The workshop presentation here is based on that. The main objectives of such workshop is as follows:

  • Ability to substantially ideate, describe, evaluate and discuss a business model using the Business Model Canvas
  • Hands-on understanding of user personas and problem scenarios to articulate the Offer’s key drivers
  • Hands-on understanding of how to use the AIDA(OR) framework to evaluate the effectiveness of Customer Relationships and Channels
  • Understanding of business type and how to evaluate Key Activities, Resources, and Partnerships in this context

The business model canvas — as opposed to the traditional, intricate business plan — helps organizations conduct structured, tangible, and strategic conversations around new businesses or existing ones. Leading global companies like GE, P&G, and Nestlé use the canvas to manage strategy or create new growth engines, while start-ups use it in their search for the right business model. The canvas’s main objective is to help companies move beyond product-centric thinking and towards business model thinking.
How to Build a Golden Brand

How to Build a Golden Brand

Yesterday I had the opportunity to share with the audience of MITM G-27 seminar the platform of thinking I use when I help creating an organization, branding a startup or a company. The seminar was held at the amazing Industrial Management Institute (IMI) at Tehran, Iran.

Reza Ghiabi talks about creating a golden brand at Industrial Management Institute of Iran, Photo: IMI

Inspired by Simon Sinek's Golden Circle, in my talk and the I presented how to build a Golden Brand for startups and other organizations. The following slides includes parts of the talk. I have added some orange boxes and notes to describe the illustrations. The basic idea is simple yet powerful: communicate with WHY.

The Golden Circle is a thought model developed by Simon Sinek. This model is the result of research into the success of the world’s most influential leaders and companies. Sinek found that behind all successful brands lies the same way of thinking, acting, and communicating, which are the complete opposite of how the majority of people think, act, and communicate.

When asked why they think their customers chose their company, most compa- nies answer that their customers choose them for their fantastic products or services that are keenly priced and of good quality. Sinek claims this proves that they have no idea why their customers are their customers. Influential com- panies, on the other hand, let their customer approach be driven by the why question. We will explain this principle in the following using the Golden Circle.

The Golden Circle is made up of three circles. The core is the why, which is fol- lowed by the how, and the outer circle represents the what. Most companies start with the outer ring (what), and then work inward (how and why). Only the most influential companies start in the core: why. We will first briefly explain what each circle entails.

  • What > this is the circle of the products or services a company sells.
  • How > companies’ explanation of how they do what they do. How can, for example, be a unique sales strategy or a specific differentiating feature. How is often used to explain how something is different or better. Managers tend to think that these are differentiating or motivating factors in consumers’ de- cision-making process.
  • Why > this is not about making a profit, but rather about what companies be- lieve in, what drives them. Inspired companies, regardless of their size or industry, think, act, and communicate from the inside out.

Want to know more? Watch Simon Sinek's TEDTalk: How great leaders inspire action. As TED describes it is a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question "Why?" Simon's examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers.