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Romain Aubert - Issue #5

Welcome to 2019 everyone. Below is a quick update on: Nations' startup strategy, Iran's startup ecosy
Romain Aubert - Issue #5
By Romain Aubert • Issue #5 • View online
Welcome to 2019 everyone.
Below is a quick update on: Nations’ startup strategy, Iran’s startup ecosystem and British Army on social media warfare.
I am in Lisbon right now. Let me know if you know of good people in town. I’d love to connect with locals.
Have a good read/skim thru.

Thru my work for the French state I have interacted with staff — from France and other nations — on the matter of “attracting startups, and innovation.” 
Two comments:
1/lots of buzzwords used in speeches, vanity metrics and numbers thrown around for the sake of promotion and ticking boxes.
One example is “numbers of startups”:
How can a state/city quantify the number of startups “they have” when technology — and talents — live beyond borders and startups have no nations. For instance, where is a startup from when they have 50 employees, 12 nationalities, entities in BVI, Singapore, the US, UK and France, that 30 of the 50 employees are remote and the rest split in 2 offices?
Also what’s a startup? Startups and agencies are often confused:
  • an agency sells man-hours
  • “a startup is an organization formed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model” – Steve Blank
I believe governments, in their roles of measuring the economy, could define qualitative and quantitative standards to measure the new economy.
2/ Defining competitive advantages for ecosystems
“Stop claiming you want to be a startup nation.” In the mainstream economy, countries have competitive advantage (economics 101), startup ecosystems should develop their own competitive advantage hedge too e.g. Shenzhen: Hardware manufacturing.
Find your competitive advantage, share you value proposition.
Iran's Startup Ecosystem
I was in Tehran last month to visit a friend and had the chance to connect with people involved in the startup ecosystem. Below are bits and bolts from our conversations:
  • The two largest startups are Snapp (on-demand rides) with 1 million rides per day and Digikala, an e commerce behemoth. Also; Sheypoor, classified; Kamva, e-commerce platform; Tap30 with car pooling.
  • Sarava is the most local prominent VC.
  • Lots of similitude with South East Asian’s ecosystem, this is the first generation of startups: logistics, e-commerce, ride sharing.
  • Interestingly when asked what’s the second generation could be, the answer is Cloud since the US and Chinese providers do not have presence
  • Cost of a developer (in US dollars) has plummeted to USD 200-1,000 per month with the recent currency crisis
  • Iranian consumers are privacy oriented, that’s why all government-backed messaging apps have failed and Telegram is most popular (although Telegram does not encrypt by default).
  • Silk Road Conference is the startup conference in Iran
  • Despite the sanctions, some foreign VCs manage to invest in Iran (e.g. Pomegranate, a Sweden-based VC)
  • Mining bitcoin is recognized has an industry in Iran – and electricity is very cheap in Iran (Get in touch with if you want to speak about setting up mining farm in Iran.)
  • A former electrode factory is being turned into an 18,000 square meter co working space to gather up all innovation and acceleration programmes. Sarava and Pardis Technology Park are the main investors but economic downturn due to recent sanctions is making fund raising hard.
People I met with: Hadi Farnoud, founder Kamva, Silk Road Conference; Farhad Hedayatifard, founder of Taskulu an end-to-end encrypted project management tool; Nika Behjati, PM, Nouvara; Reza Salour, deputy CEO, Nouvara; Neda Golshan, VP product Digikala and thanks to Sara.
Learn how to think like a developer
I don’t feel like becoming a developer, that’s said I’ve always wanted to learn for the sake of understanding a new Language and how the web works. We often say that speaking a new language allow you to grasp the codes of culture, and think differently. That’s it, I’ve always been interested in learning how developers think.
Here is my very short fav list of non tech materials:
Let me know if you know any.

WhatsApp founder Brian Acton’s note that was kept on Jan Koum’s desk. Source: Sequoia Capital
WhatsApp founder Brian Acton’s note that was kept on Jan Koum’s desk. Source: Sequoia Capital
Talking about WhatsApp (and Facebook), I actually replaced the social media network with this newsletter and segmented mailing list I use to interact with different groups of people. Here is a longer read on the upside of embracing mailing lists to interact with your people.
Le Wagon China is looking for a Tech Leader (Shanghai or Chengdu or Shenzhen)
Rocket BC, an EOS-focused venture studio is recruiting a back-end developer (remote)
Meero, an AI/photography platform, USD 63 million raised, is looking for a lead to launch their China operation.
Peng Ventures, a Bangkok-based venture studio is looking for MDs to launch businesses. They have a full pipeline.
Ping me if you are interested in the above. I can make intros.
David Cummings
Most seed stage startups aren't tracking enough metrics.

Make a simple Google Sheet and track these weekly:
- Cash on hand
- Burn rate
- Recurring revenue
- New customers
- Lost customers
- Marketing qualified leads
- Sales demos
- Active sales opportunities
- Net promoter score
7:32 PM - 7 Jan 2019
Erik Torenberg
1/ Here’s a list of conversational frameworks I’ve picked up that have been helpful.

Please add your own.
4:51 PM - 4 Dec 2018
What is the best test you've heard of to gauge how much people will care about a product before writing a single line of code?
5:41 AM - 30 Dec 2018
Moses Sam Paul
Top ten podcasts that I loved in 2018. #TopTen2018 #TopTen
5:47 PM - 27 Dec 2018
Thanks for reading. Let me know if I can help.
If you hit reply, I’ll hit reply.
Sent from Lisbon, where I am staying in a co living space: Outsite.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Romain Aubert

“The role of the organiser is to create power for others” — Saul Alinsky

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