Interview with Roxanna Varza

Hi Roxanne, I do not know I have to call you Roxanne or Roxanna

Hi Mobin :) I like it when Iranians call me Roxanna. But in France and in America, they don't pronounce Roxanna correctly. So I ask people to say Roxanne.


Could you introduce yourself and Tell us what do you do exactly?

I currently run the startup programs at Microsoft for France. We have 2 startup programs: Bizspark, and more recently, Microsoft Ventures (it used to be called Spark). I have been most involved in launching the Microsoft Ventures program in France, which is an accelerator program that helps startups build prototypes and kickstart their businesses for the first 3 months. It's been almost a year and we've already had quite a few successful startups raising funds and winning awards and competitions.

In addition to my role at Microsoft, I am a cofounder of Tech.eu – a blog on tech/entrepreneurship in Europe.

I also cofounded Girls in Tech in London and Paris – this is a network that aims to encourage and make women in tech/entrepreneurship more visible.

And finally, I am a cofounder of the Failcon conference in Paris, a conference that helps entrepreneurs learn from their failures.






When did you become interested in Entreprenuership and startups topics? Have you already launched any startups?

It happened by accident :) I grew up in Silicon Valley but I never really paid much attention to tech or startups. Then, I started working for a French government development agency, trying to encourage Silicon Valley startups to open offices in Europe and France. This is when I first got in touch with startups and the entrepreneurial community – I was about 22 years old. I absolutely LOVED it! I discovered a community of passionate, intelligent, creative, optimistic people. And I have been addicted to entrepreneurs and the tech ecosystem ever since!


Your job title in Microsoft is weird.Startup Lover at Microsoft.Would you tell me more about it?

Actually my official title is something more long and complicated: something like "Emerging Business Marketing Manager." I didn't feel that this reflected what I do. So I changed my title to "Startup Lover." I wanted people to know that my role was oriented towards startups. I'm essentially the "Startup Lead" if you prefer that :)




I think you focused on France community.Is France a suitable place for startups?

I love the French community and I think it is a great place for startups. The ecosystem has grown a lot over the last 4 years (I first moved to France in 2009). But I have also been involved in the community in London and I have a growing interest in startup ecosystems around the world – especially growing or newly developing ecosystems. Including Iran :)


I know you are interested in Iran startups and entrepreneurship news and read about it.What do you think?

To be honest, I don't know enough about the Iranian startup ecosystem, I really want to learn more. But I have been incredibly impressed by what I have seen so far. I can feel there is a growing interest in startups and I know Iranian universities produce excellent engineers and technical experts. I'm sure that the ecosystem will grow nicely in the upcoming years.


Do you know any Iranian who are in startups community there? Do you talk to them about it?

Yes, I have been in touch with Shayan Salileh and Mohsen Malayeri, they are actually the first Iranian entrepreneurs I connected with in Iran. And since then, I have been in touch with many others. I have been in touch with quite a few organizers of different startup weekend events and some people with various accelerator or incubator projects.


When have you been Iran? Will you travel to Iran once again?

I've been to Iran quite a few times. The last time was last year. And I am hoping to come again very soon.


What are your advises to young people in Iran especially Engineers and Entrepreneurs?

I think the Iranian entrepreneurs that I have been in touch with definitely are on the right path – organizing events like Startup Weekend encouraging entrepreneurship throughout the country. This is where France was in 2009. And a lot of things have developed since then.

I would also encourage people to share what is happening in English so other people outside of Iran can know what they are doing and support them. Many people are interested in learning about Iran and the local startups, but there are very few English language resources.

Finally, I would also say that the Iranian market may be an easy market for "copy cat" businesses. For example, taking a successful business model from another country and adapting it locally. This also happens a lot in France. But I also encourage Iranians to really look at the specifics of the local market as well and develop businesses that are relevant for the country.


Thank you for such an amazing interview.

Thank you Mobin.


(You can also read Persian/Farsi of this interview at Karya.ir)

(Photos by Luca Sartoni)

Myths of innovation

One grand myth is the story of Isaac Newton and the discovery of gravity. As it’s often told, Newton was sitting under a tree, an apple fell on his head, and the idea of gravity was born. It’s entertaining more than truthful, turning the mystery of ideas into something innocent, obvious, and comfortable. Instead of hard work, personal risk, and sacrifice, the myth suggests that great ideas come to people who are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. The catalyst of the story isn’t even a person: it’s the sad, nameless, suicidal apple.

It’s disputed whether Newton ever observed an apple fall. He certainly was never struck by one, unless there’s secret evidence of fraternity food fights while he was studying in Cambridge. Even if the apple incident took place, the legend discounts Newton’s 20 years of work to explain gravity. Just as Columbus didn’t discover America, Newton did not actually discover gravity—the Egyptian pyramids and Roman coliseums prove that people understood the concept we l before Newton. Rather, he used math to explain more precisely than anyone before him how gravity works. While this contribution is certainly important, it’s not the same as discovery.

The best possible truth to take from the apple myth is that Newton was a deeply curious man who spent time observing things in the world. He watched the stars in the sky and studied how light moved through air, all as part of his scientific work to understand the world. It was no accident that he studied gravity. Even if the myth were true and he did see an apple fall, he made so many other observations based on ordinary things that his thinking couldn’t have been solely inspired by fruity accidents in the park. Newton’s apple myth is a story of epiphany or “a sudden manifestation of the essence or meaning of something,”1 and in the mythology of innovation, epiphanies serve an important purpose.

- Page 4 of Chapter 1, Myths of Innovation By Scott Berkun.

Why do we translate ?

Existence of media is because of awareness and transferring the knowledge.In Addition, the pace of transferring these knowledges is far more important than itself.We have many kinds of media such as television, newspaper, internet and etc.One of the impotant parts of a media is its language.And also the different types of media have their own languages in around the globe.

As we know English is the international language because of that most and best media communicate with it and others translate the news or articles into their native languages.The reason we translate those thing is the majority of people do not know English but they have rights to know the newest news and articles in their own native languages.

It is not needed all of people know English but It is needed to be aware.Consequently, the duty of a translater is make people aware of pure knowledge with maximum pace.

BTW, I am not a translator but sometimes i feel i have to translate one thing that i am passionate about it.

This is the newest post.


Long time ago i have created a website to post my own articles and experiences, But it did not happen.Maybe a Software engineer does not have much time to update his/her own website.I'm Mobin Ranjbar and a Software Engineer at this moment and i'm going to continue learning and learning.

I have written and traslated lots of acticles about the software industry in around the world wide web.From now on, my goal to renew my own website is to gather them into my official website.

Let's get back to work :)