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THE LATEST FROM THE TECH STARTUP ECOSYSTEM OF IRAQ

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Karwa.iq Taxi service Iraq

Bite.Tech Business Review: Karwa (Taxi Service)

What is Karwa?

Karwa is a taxi service application built to fit the needs of the Iraqi market. When developing this application Ahmed Ali and his team of local Iraqi developers focused on designing an application that will engage the Iraqi users “the Iraqi audience has a different mindset when it comes to mobile service applications when comparing to other countries in the region. The people of Iraq have not used an online taxi service prior to Karwa, and the country’s circumstances make it very difficult to implant an on the shelve application in the country. This is why our team at Karwa has taken every detail into consideration when building a localized application for Iraq.” The Karwa application contains some features that are missing in the on the shelve taxi applications such as an additional information box that will allow users to describe their location in detail. The application also uses the Iraqi Arabic dialect, and has a very easy navigation system.

Ahmed Ali is the CEO and founder of Karwa. He graduated from the University of Baghdad with a degree in Computer Engineering.  He is based in Dubai and is managing the business remotely (his operating team are based in Baghdad). His team is made up of local Iraqi programmers and foreign advisers with expertise in building mobile applications. His advisors are Ahmed Al-Shagra, the founder of Nadrus and Saif Aljaaibaji, CEO of United Healthcare and founder of Sehteq.

Karwa in currently available in Baghdad only, but the team are planning to expand to other parts of the country after 6 months from launch. The next focus area will be the Kurdistan region of Iraq; they are confident of growing the business in this part of Iraq.

How can you become a Karwa Driver?

In its soft launch Karwa launched a website made up of two sections, one of them for customers, and the other is designated for drivers. Applicants who are interested in becoming Karwa drivers must be between 18-65 years of age. They will have to complete a form by adding their full names, email address, type of car, and the year it was built on on the website. Karwa has already received over 1000 requests from interested applicants. Once the applications have been submitted the Karwa team will contact the applicants individually, and they will have to provide the team with their qualifications, a valid driver’s license, and the amount of rides they are planning to take in a day. All applicants will go through a screening process; the Karwa team will examine the applicants’ background and look into the criminal history and police certifications from respective government authorities. If an application is approved, the applicant will then have to pass the Karwa safety training. The safety training in Karwa will provide drivers with information on areas that are prohibited for Karwa drivers to go through, such as the villages near Baghdad, abandoned roads, and dangerous areas in the city. The drivers will also have a speed limit, which they cannot go beyond.

In its future plans, Karwa plans to hire female drivers who will provide rides for female customers only. The female drivers will have to go through the same screening process as the male drivers in Karwa.

“Our drivers are not our employees, they are our partners; they will work in their own time. We will only send them ride requests which they are free to decline.” Drivers will not have to sign employee contracts. They will however have to sign a legal agreement, which will lay out each party’s rights and liabilities.

The Karwa office located in Baghdad will be ready mid February 2017. The team will begin to contact the registered applicants once the office is ready.

Karwa will take a commission of 15% to 20% on each ride completed by a driver.

Karwa Customers

Interested users can fill out the section designated for them on the website, they will have to provide their names and email addresses. Once the application is launched the team at Karwa will contact them, and will provide them with a free first ride up to a certain distance.

Through the GPS navigation in their phones, customers can identify their current locations. If their location is not found, they will need to manually add the location in the Ride Request screen on the application. The customers and the drivers will be able to contact each other by phone or SMS through their carier operator. Karwa has plans of building a native chatting system within the application in the future.

Once they reach their destination, customers can pay either in cash or online through Zain Cash, Asia Wallet, and potentially through Qi Card.

Karwa

 

karwa

What makes Karwa Different?

Through Karwa, Ahmed Ali plans to provide the people with a safe and convenient transportation service, while providing additional income for thousands of people.

The Karwa team mentioned they carefully studied the transportation market in Iraq. “Being Iraqi’s, we have a strong understanding of the Iraqi culture and we have taken this aspect and the country’s current circumstances into consideration before we started designing our product, we built our product from scratch to cover all those aspects” said Ahmed.  

The Karwa team is happy to share its business studies with other founders and developers who plan to launch an online startup in Iraq and Kurdistan. During their research process they conducted a demographic study of the region, and their potential customers.  “We can assist who ever wants our support. We are working in research and are happy to share experiences. We want to create a culture for using technology that will reflect positively in Iraq” said Ahmed.

Karwa is actively working on promoting its business to raise awareness, finding the market fit, and signing up drivers and customers through social networks. 

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Innovation Workshop

The Growth Of The Iraqi Tech Ecosystem

It might be surprising to know that the region of the Middle East has become a blossoming entrepreneurial, tech startup hub. From Jordan to Lebanon and Iran to Egypt, the region has made significant progress with innovation driving tech startup growth. Israel has more startups per capita than anywhere else in the world.

Iraq has been the notable absentee from this tech ecosystem growth. Over the last 18 months I’ve dedicated my time researching the Iraqi tech ecosystem, along with a group of committed, talented writers and entrepreneurs. We believe that we are on the verge of imminent breakthroughs and of establishing our own strong tech ecosystem here in Iraq.

When most people think of our country, they think of the wars and the ensuing conflict that crippled the country. But this is only very recent history in the country that gave birth to one of the greatest commerce and trade regions the world has ever known. It is a country steeped in the history of human civilisation.

Now, Iraqis are hopeful of leaving the recent issues that have plagued the country in the past and to harness its considerable resources to drive economic recovery.

One key area for this to happen is the fostering of a tech entrepreneurial community. In the last few years, a large group of tech entrepreneurs has emerged, who have created the beginnings of an Iraqi tech ecosystem from scratch. And it is now beginning to show signs of advancing beyond its primary stage.

 

The Blossoming Iraqi Tech Startup Space

The impact of the conflict witnessed in the country since 2003 has led to a dearth of foreign investment. It has also badly affected the education system. This has led to a lack of capital and of talent, respectively. Up to now, the tech startup community has had to be innovative and adaptable to deal with problems in financing, infrastructure and human resources.

The two main Iraqi tech startup cities are the capital, Baghdad, and the capital of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, Erbil.

Entrepreneur events include Startup Weekend in both cities. These 54-hour events take place periodically, and bring together the tech startup community to network, share ideas and solve problems.

My Entrepreneurial Dream (or “MyeDream” as it is commonly known) is a startup incubator, whose aim is to promote and build tech ecosystems across the Middle East.

FikraSpace is the country’s largest support community for entrepreneurs and creative types all over Iraq. This group is at the forefront of tech networking and for providing support to tech startups through events, workshops and training sessions.

Bite.Tech is our very own online newsletter that recently launched for news on Iraq’s tech ecosystem and digital economic growth. We will raise awareness of all important developments and connect the Iraqi tech ecosystem to the outside world.

Moreover, increasing numbers of young Iraqis are showing an interest in entrepreneurship and how to get into tech business.

 

Future prospects and challenges

Like many up-and-coming tech ecosystems, in Iraq we are seeking to attract investors, to gain support from the government and to help create a talent pool that will meet the human resources needs for a tech ecosystem to grow and thrive.

These are our main challenges. It is thanks to the hard work by a large group of dedicated entrepreneurs that our ecosystem has grown this far. To grow further, what we really need is a support network and funding.

A first major step to achieve this would be some significant action on the government’s part. This would help to turn foreign investors to our country and the investment massive opportunities here.

Government support in terms of events, networking and acquiring the skills needed would be a boon to our prospects. There is a deficit of programmers, coders, designers and engineers, whereas other Middle Eastern countries are able to count on government funding that goes towards specialised tech education.

It would also lead to more widespread media coverage, at local, national and international level, which is critical for a tech ecosystem’s success.

In terms of the wider economy, it is now clear that a focus on entrepreneurship in countries that have been dependent on commodities for economic prosperity is the way forward. Along with countries such as Saudi Arabia and Russia, Iraq has suffered from the global drop of 60% in oil prices in recent years.

In order to protect itself from a similar development in future and to move away from a dependence on oil, Saudi Arabia has begun to channel focus and investment into encouraging entrepreneurship.

This is something that the Iraqi government could do too in order to effect positive change in the wider economy.

While we face a number of important challenges now and in coming years, the Iraqi tech ecosystem has developed a strong foundation of which, with continued dedication and hard work, we are optimistic for the next stage in our tech ecosystem’s development.

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Startup Ecosystem

What is a Tech Ecosystem?

A tech ecosystem is an interconnected, interdependent network of various actors that combine to create innovative products and services in tech. These actors primarily include tech startups; more established tech companies; tech company founders; investors and investment groups; and mentors and organisations that provide business support. Based on this definition, the tech ecosystem in Iraq is still very much in its infancy.

A successful tech ecosystem allows for many smaller companies to bring innovation to market. Operating alone would be difficult, and in many instances, impossible, without the on-going help of a tech ecosystem in a market typically dominated by a select few large cap companies. In our market, any tech startup will find it very hard to grow but as the market matures the network of support will no doubt make things easier.  

There are supporting factors that play a crucial role in creating a tech ecosystem. These include the media; the government; a strong human resources talent pool; the education system; a predominant entrepreneurial culture, and a robust local infrastructure to support founders and investors in communicating, solving problems together, and coming up with innovative ideas.

 

Startups and Founders

Starting a company is incredibly challenging. Innovating is not easy, and it can quickly become more difficult if other areas of business demand a startup’s attention.

A tech ecosystem brings startups and founders together in a network, to overcome problems and share each other’s experiences. Furthermore, it raises spirits to challenge in a sector knowing you have a network of startup founders doing the same thing. And it gives individual companies the power to join forces on certain areas, giving them a stronger voice. We at Bite.Tech will be the voice of the Iraqi startup ecosystem.

Some hugely successful tech startups right now include Uber, TransferWise and Dropbox.

 

Investors and Investment Groups

Many startups choose to raise funds with external investors. Investors also often provide business advice and direction. Venture capitalists experienced in tech investment typically offer a startup capital in exchange for equity and they take an important consultative role in guiding the startup’s growth. Investors provide many startups with the lifeblood of business success – capital and knowhow.

One of the most important investment groups globally is Andreessen Horowitz.

Over the coming months we hope to identify investors interested in startups coming out of Iraq.

 

Accelerators and Incubators

Accelerators work to help a company or “accelerate” their growth through providing mentoring, training and promotion, among many other types of support. A tech incubator is a company that helps new tech startups and early stage companies with office space, equipment, funding, networking and legal advice, among many other roles. They are specifically dedicated to startups and early stage tech sector companies. Well known accelerators and incubators include Tech City in London and Y Combinator in California.

We will begin adding any accelerators and incubators in Iraq on our Resources page.

 

Serial Entrepreneurs, Angel Investors and Mentors

Tech ecosystems typically contain individuals who are involved in numerous tech entrepreneurial ventures (serial entrepreneurs), individuals who invest their own money in various tech startups (angel investors) and individuals who provide startup founders with much needed guidance and advice (mentors). It is also common for one individual to provide all three roles.

Any thriving tech ecosystem is littered with such individuals. A tech ecosystem is largely considered to need them to succeed, and vice-versa.

 

Supporting Players

We have looked at the most important stakeholders in a tech ecosystem – the startup founders, investors and mentors who make up the core. But, centrally important as they are, there are various supporting players that complete a tech ecosystem, and importantly, they are imperative to success.

Countries and cities with thriving tech ecosystems tend to have a strong entrepreneurial culture, which is encouraged both through the education system and in society at large. Taking risks and the fear of failure go with the territory if aiming to innovate, and successful tech ecosystems are supported by a culture that understands this. If we want an example of such a country, we don’t have to look further than our neighbours in Iran who have a very mature tech startup ecosystem.

 

Government support is crucial. Not only does government assistance ensure that regulation and obstacles to market are easier to navigate, many countries provide start-ups with funding and training programmes, as well as tax breaks. Countries such as the UK and Ireland are prominent in assisting new tech startups in such ways. The former British Prime Minister, David Cameron, launched the aforementioned accelerator, Tech City, for instance. When will the respective governments of Federal Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government begin to offer financial support, remove company formation obstacles, and offer tax breaks to tech entrepreneurs? Something similar to what the Latvia government has outlined.

 

Access to talented candidates is a cornerstone of any tech ecosystem. A tech startup with the most innovative ideas will not get very far if it does not have the workforce capable of making its ideas a reality. Strong talent pools are fostered through a good education system and immigration policies that allow businesses to attract talent from abroad. Being the CEO of a staffing and recruitment agency (MSELECT), I know first-hand that we have a lot of work to do to improve the knowledge and skills of our tech programmers, designers and engineers. There is certainly talent and interest, but they need a high level of training and specific education.

 

Over the coming months, we will be adding details of locally established web designers, developers, and other related service businesses such as social media agencies on our Resources page.

 

The media plays an important part in the success of tech ecosystems, providing coverage to local, regional, national and international audiences. In countries around the world, local media regularly cover tech funding rounds, product launches, milestone achievements, new partnership announcements and so forth.

 

This is something Bite.Tech hopes to achieve. We are a media channel dedicated to all things related to the tech startup scene in Iraq and Kurdistan. We will be reaching out to local media channels and agencies to raise awareness, whilst at the same time making sure that our news is seen at an international level, hence why our articles will be covered in English only.

 

All of the aforementioned core and supporting stakeholders combine to create a complex, interweaving tech ecosystem. We are in one of the few remaining frontier markets for such an ecosystem.

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A photo if the event

Entrepreneurship in Kurdistan Region & Iraq Panel at AUIS

The Institute of Regional and International Studies hosted a panel on Entrepreneurship in Kurdistan Region and Iraq during the Global Entrepreneurship Week on November 16th.

Global Entrepreneurship Week is the world’s largest celebration of innovators and job creators. Therefore, a group of the brightest Entrepreneurs in Kurdistan and Iraq were invited to share their experience with students at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani.

The participating panelists included:

Alice Bosley, Co-Founder at Five One Labs

Hallo Sagrma, Director at Indigo Canvas

Talar Noore, Founder and CEO at Worldwide Business Management

Rawaz Rauf from Hiwa Rauf for Investment and Development

Fatin Al-Weili, Co-Founder at Escape the Room Iraq

Bayad Jamal, CEO at Bayad Inc.

Hemin Askary, Lavazza Franchise

Hevi Manmy, CEO at Brsima and Bazary Online

The panel opening was attended by the president of the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani, Bruce Ferguson; An educator, entrepreneur, and investor with a lifelong interest in technology-based innovation.

Then, the panelists continued the discussion by introducing themselves and their business emphasizing on the obstacles in Iraq for startups and how they have managed to overcome them.

One of the obstacles they all shared was the legal barriers in front of startups. Hemin Askary, Manager at Lavazza Franchise, Sulaimani branch, said that he was dealing with laws and regulations from the 70s. Hevi Manmy, founder of Bazary Online and Brsima, with a bit of a laugh commented “I was dealing with nothing” as there are not any laws to register online businesses in Iraq and Kurdistan Region.

The panel was followed by a Q&A session and it was a great opportunity for a social interaction and networking among participants and the panelists.

Below are some photos of the event.


IRIS entrepreneurship roundtable-3.jpg

IRIS entrepreneurship roundtable-2.jpg

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IRIS entrepreneurship roundtable.jpg

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AUIS IT capstone Day

Top 3 Realities Young Founders of Startups in My Country Need to Know

Let’s start by asking an important question. What are the main requirements founders in my country need to have in order to establish a successful startup? If you are familiar with the setup and culture of Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan, it is very likely that your answer to the question above is going to list the following:

  • A lot of money to spend on a lot of advertising and marketing
  • A politician to get your paperwork processed and approved
  • And a foreign partner to attract the money and the politician

I don’t disagree with you!

The above might be what you need to start a successful business in our setup and culture. A startup however, is different from a business. A startup is turning an idea into a business. A startup dreams big, but starts small. It values speed over perfection, and testing assumptions constantly. Therefore, a startup requires a different setup and mindset. In my opinion, here are the three realities you need to check in order to establish a successful startup:

 

1- An Innovative Business Idea

The world is changing more rapidly than ever before. Peoples’ needs, desires, demands, and taste change continuously. What is an attractive service or product today might be obsolete tomorrow. What is an effective marketing campaign today might be totally outdated tomorrow. And the story is true for all aspects of a business. Therefore, innovation is at the core of any successful business, whether well-established or early startups, but it is more important for startups.

Having an innovative business idea attracts talents, creates markets, and most importantly attracts funding. Yes, innovation doesn’t come as a full package from day one and it is an evolving process. In fact, a major task of startups is to develop and verify the innovative idea into a business model. However, it is very important that the seed for an innovative business idea is there from day one. Consequently, all activities of the startup evolve around verifying and refining this idea unless a total pivot is necessary at a later stage.

 

2- The Right Talents

Let’s admit it. We have talent gap in many areas in this country, especially, areas that are necessary for building startups. Digital marketing, graphic design, business development, software development, client acquisition, and many more. Most startups, especially ones with innovative business ideas, suffer from this phenomenon. Not only startups, but also international companies suffer from this phenomenon. Well-established businesses can afford outsourcing their specialized jobs to staff abroad or bring in expatriates. For startups however, this is much harder to achieve due to limited resources and recognition.

One of my founder friends stated this phenomenon in a very honest and effective confession. After struggling with finding some talents for his startup, he once said: “now I think that my competitor might have similar ideas to mine as well, but he too cannot find the talents to implement them”. He admitted that he had learned that the challenge is not a visionary founder, but the lack of the people who turn the vision into reality. Therefore, it is important that you locate and recruit people who can turn your vision into reality.

 

3- Full Dedication to the Startup

I honestly don’t want to get started on this issue here, but I believe that this is another major problem that is facing founders of startups in this region. It might not be lack of dedication because of lack of passion, but it is because of lack of time and focus. In my many years of being involved with startups and meeting entrepreneurs, I have yet to meet the founder or co-founder that has fully dedicated, at least, one year of his/her life to making the startup work.

Establishing a startup is a big challenge. It is a big change in life and lifestyle. It is as big as getting married, or starting your postgraduate education, or moving from one country to another. It is a lot of hustle and a lot of new territories to discover, to navigate, and to master. It can only work out with a lot of time and dedication. Establishing a startup and employing someone to run it from day one because you are busy doing something else is not recipe for success. Do it when you are fully ready and available.

 

There might be many other points that can be listed here, or in a similar article. For example, you need funding, you need information on how to develop a startup and run a business, you need a lot, and I mean a lot, of paperwork to go through, and an ecosystem to support you. However, I believe they all come as consequences of these three requirements. I believe if you have an innovative business idea, the right talents to turn your idea into reality, and you are fully dedicated to making it work, then you are ready and equipped to overcome the rest.

 

Photo Credit: The American University of Iraq, Sulaimani 

Articles by external contributors do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bite.Tech

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Fikra fair

Fikra Space Celebrates Its Fourth Anniversary

Four years ago, Fikra Space was founded by the efforts of a tech-savvy group of young Iraqi guys influenced by the Makerspace movement popping up around world. Since it was founded, Fikra Space’s impact and products have been likened to those of Makerspace, which is why it was very important for Fikra to celebrate its fourth anniversary in a different setting.

To celebrate their fourth anniversary, Fikra hosted a fair for Startup businesses in Baghdad. The event was a networking opportunity aiming to bridge the gap between the Iraqi entrepreneurship enthusiasts and the community of supporters, both potential investors and the solution providers.

The fair featured keynote speakers who presented in Ted style talks, and it also included panels debating questions relating to our ecosystem; questions concerning e-commerce and the state of e-payments in Iraq. There was an insightful Q&A session regarding the efficiency of private Iraqi banks when handling online payments.

fikra fair

The startup showcase fair proved to be a hit with the audience, inspired attendees had the chance to interact with entreprenuers who have launched startup businesses and were telling their stories. The showcase fair featured regional businesses such as Nadrus.com (the Arabic MOOCs website, which was co-founded by the Iraqi entrepreneur Ahmed Al-Shagra) and local startups such as Kushuk, Najih.com, Bil Weekend and others. Also amongst the featured exhibitors were exciting startups such as Earvlab (virtual reality) and Wild Games (videogames studio), both impressing the crowd.

The event’s organizers stated that aside from celebrating and focusing on the projects, the event was meant to send a message that investing in youth is very critical, because it is the youth who will build future businesses.

 

Some of the participating startups businesses were:

Mishwar: grocery delivery service in Baghdad. (Writer has personal interests)

Botlab: A software program that optimizes Facebook’s messenger platform and the bots technology for e-commerce.

Baghdad Projects: A platform that focuses on the promising projects in Baghdad

Anime Neywz: A mobile app that targets the anime fans.

Fekastore: A market place for Iraqi artisans and handmade gifts. (Writer has personal interests)

Madresty: A sophisticated schools-Parents communication tool.

Najeh.com: The website for Iraqi students final exams results.

Bil Weekend: A progressive tourism campaign.

Forward Travel: Travel agencies management system.

 

 

 

 

 

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BoozeRun logo

Business Review: BoozeRun

Iraq is witnessing a period of online marketing and technological innovation; those two factors have served as cue for the expansion of the Iraqi startup scene to the global startup market. We at Bite.Tech have been meeting with some of those startup projects and business in the country, one of the latest we have reviewed across is BoozeRun247. Boozerun247 is an app that allows customers to order alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages via an app almost 24 hours a day, every day of the week in Erbil.

How the Idea was Formed:
BoozeRun247 is founded by Charles Younes. Charles Younes is an engineer of Lebanese and Canadian origins who has lived in Erbil for the past 4 years. He moved to Ebril to find opportunities to work in the field of construction and design. Aside from being an Engineer, Charles has a keen interest in the Food and Beverages industry. Whilst in Erbil, he established a Lebanese restaurant called Fuul w Hummus. After establishing his restaurant, Charles studied the Food and Beverages market in Iraq, and noticed a gap in the sale of alcohol to private customers. Most liquor stores in Erbil are mostly located in one area, and all close by 8:00 PM. In order to fill the gap, Charles decided to establish a business that will deliver alcoholic drinks, cigarettes, chips, etc to consumers 24/7.

Charles Younes , Founder
Charles Younes, Founder


Where it was Developed and How it Works:
The plan for creating BoozeRun247 was put into action 6 months ago. The application was developed in 3 months by a team from Germany. BoozeRun247 has been in business for three months now. Each on-call operations team at BoozeRun247 is made up of six employees, two operators, and four delivery drivers. At the moment BoozeRun247 is only available in Erbil, however Charles has plans of expanding to other Iraqi provinces.

The application is simple and user friendly; available for both Apple and Android. Once you have an account you can make your order. Ordering is straight forward from the items list, once you have specified your order, time of delivery, and location your bill will pop up on the screen. You will also receive a call from the operator to confirm your order within minutes. If a customer does not answer the call the order will be canceled. The delivery charge ranges from $4 to $20 depending on the customer’s location. All payments are made upon delivery in cash.

BoozeRun247 provides its customers with regular offers and they are also working on a loyalty scheme to reward frequent customers. Charles ensures to work only with genuine distributors to avoid dealing with poor or fake products. BoozeRun247 is privately funded, since Charles says it is very difficult for an expat to receive sponsorships, or loans from banks in the country.

Privacy:
Due to the nature of the business, BoozeRun247 has very strict terms of privacy. The data for customer information is available only to Charles himself.  Employees at BoozeRun247 have to sign a confidentiality agreement before starting employment to insure that customers’ private data is kept safe.  

Items are delivered in discreet paper bags and drivers have no brand markings to give customers total confidentiality. Again, more signs of showing business awareness for the local society and culture.

Difficulties and challenges:
One of the main challenges that Charles faced when launching this business was marketing and staffing. In the interview with us he mentioned he could not find local people to develop his application, so he was forced to take his business overseas. When addressing the marketing issue he said that he couldn’t find avenues other than Facebook to advertise for his business.

Future Plans:

Charles is planning on expanding his business throughout Iraq. The next expansion will be in Suliamniyah. He is also working on other projects that would work the same way as BoozeRun247, it makes sense to use his current logistical infrastructure. 

Charles’s Advice:

We need to work on expanding the startup scene in Iraq because startups and digital businesses are the future of employment, and Iraq needs be a part of that future. By taking part in this international revolution, Iraq would improve its position in the international scene.

We at Bite.Tech wish BoozeRun247 all the success, and are looking forward to reviewing this business at a later stage.

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Iraqi Startup Scene

Introducing the Iraqi Startup Scene to the World

When the Internet was first introduced as a business service in Iraq, it was met with some confusion. Today however, some years later, the people in the country are entering the tech startup scene at a professional level, launching businesses and advertising them through technology, and social media. Wishing to partake in the existing global tech websites dedicated to listing startups all around the world, Iraq including the Kurdistan region has joined the international startup scene. 

The Iraqi tech scene includes startups in a variety of fields. From IT, design, e-commerce, to education and medicinal fields. Individuals in the area have also begun to tiptoe their way into Apple’s App store, by developing IOS applications. In addition, there are now Iraqi singers and comedians who promote their work through YouTube. The idea of “Public Figures” on social media is one that both Iraqi Kurdistan and Iraq are definitely embracing. Technology in this sense has been a vital factor in generating a startup scene that deals with cultural and artistic aspects of life in the country.  

Yet, however professional the scene may be, there is still little mention of it on an international level. Most websites do not have any data regarding startups in the area due to the fact that the local startup scene is a startup itself. An aspect of this is that startups that launch in the area focus on promoting their business through social media websites such as Facebook and Instagram, instead of setting up an official website of their own for the entire world to see. This is a trend that is starting to change. Since 2013 many IT service companies have launched around the country, offering assistance in creating web pages, and offering online marketing. 

One of the few websites, if not the only tech based website that is including Iraq in its search list, is Angel.com. Angel.com is based in the US; it raises equity and debt investments for startups around the world. Three of the startups that it promotes are based in Iraq. 

A general search on Google might suggest that the startup scene in Iraq is not worthy of mention, but hidden away there are a number of creative ideas and projects that are waiting to be noticed. In order to aid the development of the scene, Iraqi groups have held many Startup Weekend events, mainly in Baghdad and Erbil, where entrepreneurs and successful business men/women advised newcomers on means of success in the digital world. 

Bite.Tech hopes to show you more of our ecosystem!

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