What does it mean to make it in the north? In this ongoing portrait series, we will you to local people, organisations, and companies working to further internationalise Groningen, Friesland, and Drenthe.
In this instalment, we meet Sepideh Radmannia and Milad Naderzad, the creators of ChemIoT, a business that wants to innovate the world of chemistry with the technological advances through the Internet of Things. Both travelled here from Iran and are working using a start-up residence permit.
By Morten Pedersen
When you first meet the married and business couple of Sepideh Radmannia and Milad Naderzad, you sense an enormous energy and passion for their project. These are people who truly believes in what they are doing and knows how much dedication and focus this will take, to make it happen. I meet them in Emmen, in the local start-up/co-working space, where there’s a lot of internationals and Dutch mixed together, while they help each other out with making their companies come alive.
Morten Pedersen: What is your background?
Milad Naderzad: I have four years of experience in entrepreneurship and I’m a smart home developer back in Iran. I’m 30 years old we are married, aside from being business partners. You know, like normal people. With hobbies and everything else.
Sepideh Radmannia: And our hobbies are designing! I completed a PhD in Analytical Chemistry around 5 years ago, and then lectured in the subject before turning my efforts to entrepreneurship.
When did you move to the Netherlands?
SR: Three months ago! We came after having worked on this project for more than 1½ years. We have worked on the integration side of the project the last year, but individually we have worked on this for more than 4 years.
MN: Yeah, we each came to this project with individual projects. But is ended up being difficult making this project in Iran, due to the political landscape and the embargos and such.
Was there something specific that made it the Netherlands?
MN: Yes, we tried other countries first. But Canada didn’t respond
SR: And then Denmark.
MN: Yes, but we didn’t score high enough and then we revised our project. We have now revised our projects more than 10 times. Nothing unusual for a start-up, but it did take time. We talked with professors and researched the market. And then we applied in the Netherlands.
SR: Yeah and after the revision, both Denmark and the Netherlands wanted to let us in. We ended up choosing in the Netherlands.
What about Emmen? How did that come to be?
MN: Well first of all, Emmen is a smaller town. It was always a concern for us to be in a big, crowdy place like Amsterdam. And Derren de Jong was the facilitator with the best offer (in the Netherlands you need a facilitator approved, by by the IND, who mentors you and helps with formalities). He didn’t want us to first go here on a tourist visa and we didn’t either. We wanted to be taken seriously. And he did that.
So where are you in the process?
MN: We did a lot of the programming and the chemical analysis back in Iran. We have been ready for three years now, to find potential investors. But it is always difficult to find willing money. And we have a few months left to find our way here, because we are not allowed to work part time for example. So our income has to be stable very soon from our startup.
Is there anything you would like to add, to help other start-ups?
MN: It can be difficult in the North to get people to invest in new technology. They might not seem that willing to take a risk. And when you have a start-up visa for one year, it can take a long time to find the right partners and suddenly that’s not a lot of time. So make sure that your product is ready for the investment when you suddenly find it, because you will use most of the time finding investments and partners during your visa time.