New Ties of Innovation Forged Between Impact Hub Yerevan and AUA

Seroj and Karlen meeting with Hub members regarding setting up a new project

Seroj and Karlen meeting with Hub members regarding setting up a new project

YEREVAN, Armenia – In 2016 the American University of Armenia (AUA) and Impact Hub Yerevan joined forces in establishing a fellowship program, designed to support AUA graduate students interested in developing projects, which aim to tackle social problems in Armenia. With a flexible platform, graduates are encouraged to work in any sphere or subject area.

Recently, two AUA Computer and Information Science (CIS) students, Haykaz Bagratyan and Karlen Manaseryan, joined the six-month fellowship program at Impact Hub. Their first project, Gugas Armenian mobile application, which launched in early June of this year, has already proven to be a success and is very much in line with the fellowship’s vision.

“In a nutshell, Gugas is a cost sharing transportation app that combines taxies and carpooling. Available for iOS and Android smartphones, passengers can pre-order a taxi at convenient time for them, and our system calculates the precise fare,” Haykaz says. Currently, the application has over 1,000 active users, and the number is growing.

Arpi Janyan, an undergraduate student in AUA’s Business program, and CIS student Seroj Alaverdian have also joined the Gugas team. Their goal is to continue improving and expanding the application, to make transportation in Armenia more affordable and convenient.

Haykaz and Karlen during a mentoring session with Hub member Shiraz Vartanian and Hub Community & Space manager Anna Vasilyan

Haykaz and Karlen during a mentoring session with Hub member Shiraz Vartanian and Hub Community & Space manager Anna Vasilyan

“We already have a carpooling option in our app. The next step is to create a feature that would allow for taxi sharing. Plus, we realize that affordable transportation is always of concern, so we’re looking to delve into other markets as well. On October 4, Karlen and Seroj are going to represent Gugas at the Armenia Expo in Tehran.” Haykaz recalls. He also added that when setting a direction for further expansion, the team deliberately focuses on developing markets and developing countries, since affordable transportation is of greatest importance there.

During their time at Impact Hub, the AUA team is also developing another application called Bookaholics, a platform dedicated to connecting fellow booklovers. “With Bookaholics, you create a profile, including what books you’re reading or planning to read, interests and favorite authors. Then you go to a café or bookstore, open your Bookaholics account, press “match”, and get matched with someone else who has the same interests. The app provides you with a percentage of the match, and if you’re interested in their profile, you have the option to message them and start a conversation about your favorite books, authors, etc. It’s about connecting people in immediate vicinity of each other and using devices to bring people together as opposed to isolating them,” Haykaz explains.

With so many great ideas coming together through the AUA / Impact Hub Yerevan fellowship program, it’s hard to predict how innovation will manifest itself next. Though, one thing is for sure – we’re moving forward!

As a habitat for innovation, Impact Hub Yerevan is a professional membership organization dedicated to individuals, enterprises, start-ups, and organizations making a positive impact in Armenia and around the world.  

The goal of the fellowship is to support the students’ projects by offering Impact Hub’s unique ecosystem, which includes workspace infrastructure, entrepreneurial support, a collaborative community, and educational programs/events. The fellowship aims to inspire, connect, and enable student fellows to develop and realize new ideas to address social issues and to do their best work in a supportive environment, which includes over 100 of Armenia’s best and brightest social entrepreneurs with over 40 organizations/enterprises/initiatives represented.