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Global CEO of One of Europe’s Leading Startup Accelerators Visits EPIC

YEREVAN, Armenia – On January 31, 2019, the Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center (EPIC) of the American University of Armenia (AUA) hosted Cristobal Alonso, Global CEO at Startup Wise Guys, Europe’s most experienced B2B startup accelerator.

Startup Wise Guys accelerator is a three-month-long on-site mentor-driven venture acceleration program taking place in either Tallinn, Estonia, or Riga, Latvia. The primary focus of the accelerator is sales and scaling, with a fundraising component helping teams move to a position that enables raising the next funding round within six months. As of this year, they have two verticals – B2B SaaS and Fintech. They also have a deep network of over 150 mentors who are experts in their fields or founders of startups themselves.

The EPIC startup teams had the unique opportunity to rehearse their pitches for EPIC Demo Day with Alonso and the Startup Wise Guys team. They spent the morning receiving valuable feedback, tips, and coaching for improving their presentations.

Rafayel Zakoyan, Co-Founder and CTO of BeautyBook, shared, “Cristobal’s feedback once again made me realize that we should not spend too much time on our slides, but practice the way we present it. The hook to the audience and the pauses while speaking are essential to make a memorable impact.”

Nane Vardanyan, Co-Founder of Creatr noted, “I learned a lot from him, even though his feedback was very pointed and direct. I don’t mind criticism, it showed that we have a lot of work to do.”

Later that day, Alonso presented Startup Wise Guys accelerator to EPIC startups interested in joining their pre-accelerator program in Estonia.

Khachatur Margaryan, Co-Founder of TapTap has already successfully completed the Startup Wise Guys online pre-accelerator program and now wants to join their Bootcamp. He said: “We told Cristobal Alonso at the end of our pitch that we want to join their bootcamp, his first reaction was no. So we followed his constructive criticism, changed our pitch and we were back to him on the same day where he heard us again. When he sees potential in people he wants them to use it to the maximum.”

As a wrap-up of the day, Vahagn Grigoryan, Co-Founder of Currencii and one of EPIC’s graduates from an earlier group, shared his experience from the Fintech program of Startup Wise Guys. “When I first met Cristobal on the stairs of AUA, he accidentally gave me his business card. Through my persistence and more than 60 emails sent in just one week, I was able to get into their fintech program. Cristobal was a great mentor and coach, at times very harsh and aggressive, but always full of encouragement and inspiring.” And at the end Grigoryan added: “If you are not ready to get roasted and lose your sleep, then you should not sign up for this.”

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.

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