EPIC Co-Organizes Startup Boost Weekend Vol3
YEREVAN, Armenia ‒ On December 1-2, the Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center (EPIC) of the American University of Armenia (AUA) helped organize the Startup Boost Weekend Vol3 at the National Polytechnic University of Armenia (NPUA). Along with EPIC, the co-organizers of the event were the Armenian National Engineering Laboratories (ANEL) of NPUA and the Catalyst Foundation in cooperation with Support to SME Development in Armenia (EU-SMEDA) Project.
The Startup Boost Weekend Vol3 aimed to promote entrepreneurial thinking among students. During the two-day event, over one hundred students from six universities worked together, created teams, generated ideas and pitched them for new startups.
Experienced mentors, entrepreneurs, and investors worked with the participants throughout the weekend. Among the mentors and workshop leaders at the event were AUA CSE lecturers Aram Keryan, Arman Arakelyan, and Rouben Meschian, CBE lecturer Karen Sarkavagyan and Director of EPIC Professor Michael Kouchakdjian.
“This is always a fun event for us with students interested in entrepreneurship receiving hands-on learning from professors and local entrepreneurs. Among the participants from the six universities, there were many students from AUA. They all did well ‒ learning, experimenting, creating… ” remarked Prof. Kouchakdjian.
It is notable that this time EPIC alumni and current team members also contributed to the event. Creatr, a current EPIC startup and 2nd prize winner of Startup Boost Weekend II, assisted by creating the promotional video for the event, filming and photographing during the event. Liana Hakobyan, team member of Breedge, EPIC startup of 2017 and winner of the inaugural Startup Boost Weekend in 2017, led the session on using lean canvas for building business models. “This is already the third time I have been engaged in a Startup Boost Weekend, but this time it was in a different role as a speaker in the Lean Canvas Session and as a mentor. I have shared my own experience and knowledge with new participants. But, however, no matter in which role in the Startup Boost Weekend Vol3, you always learn something and improve yourself.”
Vahagn Grigoryan, Founder and CEO of Currencii, EPIC startup team of 2017, noted: “This is a very engaging event for students. That’s the reason why I also went to assist and advise the new startups. It is important that we all share the experiences and challenges we had on our way to success in order to develop the startup ecosystem in Armenia.”
The first prize went to a team named Eventor that had the idea of creating a free and fast online tool for organizing children’s birthday parties. They received a cash prize of 600 dollars, motivational books, and a ticket to compete for EPIC Spring 2019 Incubation Program. “I came up with this idea after trying to organize my own birthday party. I realized that organizing a party was much harder than I thought, because simple things such as finding the right venue, the cake, balloons, and other paraphernalia could be challenging. Our online tool will help parents to save their time and get it done in one platform, instead of running around the whole city to organize their child’s birthday. We will also help them find the appropriate suppliers with prices that match their budget. I came to the event with my friend and we found two more team members there. We were the only all girls team there and thanks to the amazing mentors at the event, we could develop and find the best starting point for the implementation of our idea,” remarked Elina Hovakimyan, an AUA sophomore student.
EyeZ startup received the second prize of 400 dollars. They presented the idea of creating an assistive device for visually impaired people that would provide them with greater mobility. The third place winner, PromoCar, had the idea of matching companies with car owners who are willing to drive with an ad decal on their car to earn extra income. Several other participating teams also received prizes.
Keryan, who mentored Eventor and several other teams, summed it up as follows: “The Startup Boost Weekend is an essential event for the Armenian startup ecosystem. It is the booster point of the startup pipeline for those who want to become real entrepreneurs. Every time the event gets better and more students are involved. The Startup Boost Weekend is a feeder for EPIC. It is worth mentioning that the two winning teams from the previous Startup Boost Weekend were subsequently admitted to EPIC, and have recently received STEP grants from the Enterprise Incubator Foundation (EIF) and German Development Cooperation GIZ.”
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.