New-found business skills reap rewards

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Do you want to become a millionaire? I do not know your answer, but my answer is definitely YES! To become so, you have to answer this question: How?

For a student who wants to own a business, this is the most important question to answer. To answer it, most of the physics and engineering students who enter the business environment think of their capital, such as novel ideas, creative and capable minds for problem solving, enough time to solve them, and the knowledge they acquired at universities.

I also provided such answers when I first became chairman and head of the physics department in Shargh Azma Barsava Company, a supplier and producer of medical and laboratory equipment in Iran. Although the company’s growth was positive, future prospects did not look great. Together with the CEO, Behrouz Yazdi, we spent a lot of time and energy for the development of the company’s projects, and we tried to increase revenue by defining new projects. However, all such plans depended on one thing: money. But it was not easy to attract people’s attention to investing in our ideas, and it seemed that we were not attractive to investors.

In April 2016, the IOP held workshop on entrepreneurship for scientists and engineers from developing countries, hosted by the Abdus Salam Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, Italy. Before Behrouz and I attended the workshop, we had been able to obtain early approval from a number of investors. Nevertheless, the capital they committed to invest was not enough for us. Thus, we learned simple rules in Trieste when seeking solutions to increase the capital of our company.

The first rule is identifying and serving customers’ needs. In order to succeed, we must be customer friendly. In other words, all our capital, even what we learned at universities to produce a product, should serve customers’ needs. And, the second rule explains that our ability can work, but it is investment that accelerates it. Investors seek more profit and need to receive reasonable assurances about the protection of their investment and the receipt of profits at a specified time. Such assurances include the personality of the entrepreneur, the energy spent by him, the assets of the company, and the company’s organisational structure.

The most important issue in Shargh Azma Barsava was the multiplicity of the company’s fields of activities. But after returning from Trieste, we set up two new companies to organise our activities: Saman Sara, focused on supplying laboratory equipment in domestic and international markets, and Dariya Danesh, focused on the production of medical equipment. In addition, we decided to place greater importance on intellectual property – the mechanism of converting one of the most valuable pieces of capital, time, into assets, and greater assets could make the company more attractive to investors.

In less than two years after the workshop, we are observing the progress achieved by changing the company strategy. Saman Sara’s sales in this year are expected to increase by more than 100% than last year. The company has managed to achieve a larger market by providing specialised consulting services to its customers and developing brands tailored to their needs and budget.

Dariya Danesh also has launched three products on the market by developing products for the Iranian medical equipment market, with great profit margin. The focus on the intellectual property of the plans and predicted profitability for the company with the highly professional members of the board of directors, whose range of expertise ranges from medical equipment production to sales, has led to a 2,500% increase in the company’s stock price over these two years. And, we were able to provide the capital needed for future plans and production equipment by selling part of our stocks.

This workshop was very useful for us. Familiarizing with entrepreneurs from other countries showed us that entrepreneurs around the world face almost the same issues and education can provide them with answers. I am sure that the Institute of Physics has reached its goal regarding this workshop, and I hope to hear stories like my own story from the other participants as well.

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Mahdi Khadem

Mahdi Khadem

Dr Mahdi Khadem received his PhD in physics in 2017 from the Institute for Advanced Studies in Basic Sciences (IASBS), Zanjan, Iran.
He joined Shargh Azma Barsava Company as part-time researcher and educator in 2006 and became chairman of the board and head of the physics department of the company in 2014. He is co-founder of two growing companies, Dariya Danesh and Saman Sara. He is interested in searching for new solutions to improve the performance of organizations and systems and his experience made him an expert manager in research and development projects.
Mahdi Khadem

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