Nazanin Daneshvar, Global Female Leaders

The lack of women in tech is something that is talked about a lot.

Programmes and courses, events and education are just some of the ways in which people are trying to overcome this shortage.

Nazanin Daneshvar, from Iran, has not only broken these glass ceilings and achieved a phenomenal amount within the tech world, but has done it from within the cultural constraints of a Middle Eastern country.

Daneshvar is the most highly acclaimed female Iraninan Internet entrepreneur known to date. She is the founder and CEO of Takhfifan, Iran’s first and leading group-buy website. Alongside this, she also founded Tarinan,  popular local reviews website and mobile phone application.

Growing up in the Middle East, Daneshvar had to fight culture from an early age. Speaking at the Global Female Leaders Summit in Berlin, Germany, she said, “My dad ended up with two daughters – despite always expecting a son.”

“So he started treating me like the son he never had.”

“He always wanted me to be the best at everything – in school, in university.”

Daneshvar has been fighting such cultural norms ever since – both due to her gender and her age. Speaking about getting promoted, she said, “Half of the Iranian team resigned after I was promoted, because they said they weren’t going to work under someone younger than them and I was a woman.”

She continued, speaking of experiences in which people wanted to see her manager and did not believe that she could own her own company. She said, “He said, ‘Don’t waste my time – come back with your manager.”

“My dad became my hero.”

“I brought him with me to these meetings and would be like, ‘ta-dah, here is my manager.”

Despite this, Daneshvar’s career is just a prime example of how gender should not hold you back. She has worked and lived in both London and Berlin, before moving back to Iran to set up her company.

When she initially set up her company, the story was picked up by The Guardian, resulting in world-wide coverage and a demand that she could not adhere to.

She said, “After the Guardian story, I had over 5,000 orders in one hour – and that was not the plan.”

“I wanted to start in the local community and I couldn’t deliver that.”

“I had to close down the site.”

“I didn’t know whether to be happy or sad or to get over it.”

Alongside her work as a female entrepreneur, Daneshvar is also keen to help other start-ups, in particular female entrepreneurs. In Iran, women make up just 12 per cent of employment figures. Speaking of the attitude within Iran, she said, “Women go to university and get great grades and degrees but afterwards do nothing with it.”

“When you’re single, you live with your parents and your dad pays for everything and the money you earn is extra.”

“Then you go to your husband’s house and it continues.”

“Even my mom thinks this and tells me, ‘you’re not responsible for this, take it easy, take it easy.”

“The culture issue is one of the biggest issues.”