EPIC Hosts Khachatur Grigoryan, Co-Founder and CEO of gg, the Uber of Armenia
YEREVAN, Armenia ‒ On November 20, 2018, the Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center (EPIC) of the American University of Armenia (AUA) hosted Khachatur Grigoryan, Co-founder and CEO of gg, to share his startup experience with AUA students and EPIC startup teams. The online system for taxi ordering, gg, quickly gained renown for providing high quality taxi services and greatly advancing the industry.
As a young boy Grigoryan dreamed of growing up and having his own company that produces cars. His family owned an old Ukrainian car that was parked in their backyard but he never saw it running. He kept asking his father to fix it who told him that if he wanted to have a car he should build his own, as the one they had was too old to be fixed. Khachatur grabbed his toy tools and went downstairs to build a car. At that moment he thought that everything is really possible. “When you have a dream, it seems very easy to realize it, and the issues seem very small. But as soon as you start the process you realize that the only way to succeed is to take small steps in solving the issues in order to reach your final goal.”
Before starting his own company, Grigoryan had no knowledge and experience in startups and thought that the best way to learn would be to work for a corporation. After military service he started working as a software developer, then switched to a job in the banking industry. He did not stay long in either position. His next job was with a company in GPS tracking. This is where he learned that there was a huge gap in the quality of such services and that creating a company that would provide better services was in high demand.
That is how the gg platform was created in April of 2014 as the first Uber-like taxi service in Armenia. During the first year, gg had only 300 contract drivers and negligible year-end profit. Grigoryan remembers that the first year was especially difficult. However, his partners believed in this service so much that they invested in the company all that they had. Currently, gg has thousands of contract drivers and is profitable. The platform is available in 15 cities of Armenia, Georgia and Russia.
Grigoryan stressed the importance of working in companies that operate in the Armenian market, as they provide not only jobs but also improve the local infrastructure thereby supporting the development of the cities where they operate.
His advice to EPIC entrepreneurs was that “Even when you dream big, be ready to take small steps to reach your bigger goal. Even when you consider yourself very powerful, be ready to take entry level jobs as there are so many things to learn from doing especially those kinds of jobs. One day when you reach the top and want to stay there, you should take interest in your employees and know how everyone feels in order to know how to keep them.”
He believes that the success of his company is in his partners. “Try to make your dream the dream of other people. The more people share your dream, the more successful you will become.”
Grigoryan mentioned that there are giant car producing countries, like Germany, Japan and the USA, which have 100 years of history in the industry. They tend to cooperate with companies like gg that expand the market by connecting customers to cars. For instance, Mercedes-Benz recently bought the MyTaxi company. Volkswagen invested in Gett, which is an Israeli ride-sharing startup available in more than 100 cities in Europe, Moscow and Tel Aviv.
At the end of his inspiring talk, Grigoryan addressed his audience in these words: “When starting a business, you need to be sure that what you do is important and necessary. You should be your own competitor. A healthy organism cannot be destroyed by the competition. It can only get destroyed if there is an issue within itself.”
The Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center (EPIC) is a platform for promoting entrepreneurial education, cross-disciplinary collaboration, and startup venture incubation. EPIC provides an ecosystem for the American University of Armenia’s (AUA) emerging entrepreneurs consisting of first-class facilities and collaborative workspace, programs and events, and a network of mentors, advisors and investors. EPIC fosters the understanding and application of entrepreneurship with students and faculty at AUA to craft high-impact multidisciplinary ventures.