Daily stories about toiran. Read stories about our road trips adventures in different cities and office life.

Month: August 2014

The Birth of “ToIran” | Part IV


After Hooman Nobakht, Shahhin Kamali joined our team and the photography team started working with the best. Gradually, other photographers came to know us through our social media and began sending us photos from all over Iran. This added unique shots to our photo archives.

We decided to experience Iran for ourselves and we began going on road trips. We started with 10 of the major cities. At the time, we didn’t have a car, a friend lent us his car and Mohammad Ghayati,  Shahin Kamali and I hit the road. We went to Isfahan, Shiraz, Yazd, Kashan and Abyaneh.

It was an interesting journey but full of lessons and problems we didn’t even know we might encounter. The weather in one city was warm and cold in another, there was a lot to do and while it was a strain on us, we gained a wealth of experience and made unforgettable memories.


We traveled to Tabriz, Mashhad, Qeshm and Kish by plane. In these trips, toiran was very lucky as friends helped us greatly in gathering information. This trip left us energized and hopeful about the path we were on.

The experience we gained from traveling to these 10 cities was hard earned but fruitful. It taught us what to pay attention to, what to look for and it taught us things that we might have neglected in the past.

Our trips continued until the spring, three months had passed since we started the project but we still hadn’t done many things, most importantly we still didn’t have a development team.

It was at this time that Hamid Beiki became aware of our project and was introduced to us by a friend. We started working with him with a contract to design our logo. Since the start of the project, we had had many logos designed and sent to us but when we saw Hamid’s designs, I felt he would be one of our team members. Our views and taste were close and the quality of his work was excellent. Hamid seriously joined the team in March.  We tested some of his proposed logos and finally chose one.

I felt that with a logo, toiran finally had an identity, one that would tell you what it was about when you saw it.

Everything was going smoothly but we still didn’t have a development team and this was a bit worrying.

The Birth of “ToIran” | Part III

Going to the Tehran Startup Weekend was an interesting experience and the idea was voted most likely to be chosen and implemented.

I thought that by participating in the Startup Weekend I would be able to  put together a complete team of developers but I quickly realized that developers in Iran either work as freelancers or wish to relocate from Iran which is of course not good for the future of the country nor theirs.  Because even though freelance work appears to be more lucrative, lack of organization and work routine will prevent progress in the long run.

The Startup Weekend experience was good in terms of education and familiarizing me with the work environment in Iran but it also made me realize there are many obstacles in the way of implementing my idea.


After the Startup Weekend, I contacted many of the people on the startup scene in Iran to get help on putting together a good team but because of my perfectionism and the wish to always use the best I didn’t achieve my desired results.

This is why I decided to focus on another part of the team for a while.

I have always had a passion for collecting art and have collected over 300 works of Iranian art so far. I met Hooman Nobakht about 7 years ago when I wanted to purchase two pieces for my art collection.

Hooman Nobakht is one of the best photographers in Iran. He has participated in several international and domestic exhibitions and festivals, and has won several prestigious awards. One of Hooman’s best qualities is his strong sense of patriotism and this love for Iran and Iran’s progress was why he agreed to join the team when I contacted him and told him about my project.

After Hooman Nobakht joined the team, the photography and journalistic part of the team was finally on the right track. But we were still looking to find developers.

The Birth of “ToIran” | Part II

When news of the nationalization of the Internet became public, I decided to take my idea and try it in a different Middle Eastern country like the UAE and thought that I would later include Iran in the project. I continued meetings and consultation sessions and tried to increase my financial means so that I could take on such a massive project. I became involved in different businesses.

After the 2013 presidential elections in Iran, at the world Economic Forum in Davos the new President, Dr. Rohani, invited investors to come to Iran and pursue economic opportunities there.

Upon hearing this, and considering my experience, I decided to travel to Iran to see if I could work here. During this trip, old friends of mine introduced me to Heidi Ghavidel, a journalist with experience in writing cultural reports about Iran, and Mohammad Ghayati, who was knowledgeable in IT. This chance encounter led to cooperation and the formation of a team to pursue my dream.

I returned to the UK to put my affairs in order and with the help of my two new friends, we began laying the groundwork to start our project. In a matter of less than two weeks, we found suitable office space and I returned to Iran to open the office and put a team together.


I asked France-based Narges Adl, who was familiar with E-commerce to help me as a consultant. On her advice, I attended the Tehran Startup Weekend…

The Birth of “ToIran” | Part I

I was born in Iran and spent my early years in the city of Shiraz. Upon graduating from high school, I left the country and lived in Canada, the US, the UAE and the UK for 20 years.

About four years ago, I received a job offer in Tehran which I decided to accept due to my love for Iran. When I returned to Iran, the first thing I realized was that I knew nothing about my country; I didn’t even know where the most basic services were offered. I tried using the Internet, like I did in other countries, to find the information I was looking for and to my disbelief realized there is  no website where a person who is not very familiar with life in Iran can find necessary information. I realized even Iranians do not have a directory to look for information about their own city or other cities. This was one of the reasons which ultimately led to my leaving Iran.

From then on, it became my dream to create a website to gather and offer information about Iran. So while I was busy with other projects, I continued research for this purpose. I started looking for a good name for my project and one day while I was on GoDaddy I came across the perfect name: ToIran- a name which has meaning in both Persian and English. Even though it was a high price for a domain name in 2011, I purchased it for 5,000 dollars and created a couple of accounts for it on different social media platforms.

With the right name in my hand, I began more systematic research. Everything started falling into place for me.  But I didn’t have sufficient funds for such a large-scale project so I began looking for a potential partner.

I met a French group who had a similar idea. They became interested and to begin the project, I traveled to Morocco.


We had a few meetings when reports started coming out that Iran plans to nationalize its Internet, which cast doubt on the feasibility of the entire project.  These false reports, sadly, hindered our project for a while and I became involved in other things…

ToIran founder: Faranak Askari

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