Winning teams

EPIC Holds Spring Demo Day for its Incubation Program

3 min read

YEREVAN, Armenia – On June 4, 2019, the Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center (EPIC) of the American University of Armenia (AUA) held a Spring Demo Day for the EPIC incubation program. The event offered a platform for new EPIC startups to present their ventures to investors, mentors, accelerators, as well as AUA faculty, students, alumni, and supporters. The event was live-streamed around the world.  

The presenters were from the Spring 2019 batch of nine entrepreneurs who started in the EPIC incubator program in March, 2019. They participated in intensive workshops, had frequent one-on-one meetings with their mentors and advisors, and learned from inspiring presentations by local and international entrepreneurs. After three months in the program, the teams validated their ideas and advanced to building business models.

The Spring Demo Day culminated with the presentation of awards established last year by Michael Agbabian: the EPIC Seed Fund Award and the EPIC Innovator Prize. These cash awards were endowed by Agbabian to support the further development of new EPIC startups.

Agbabian is co-president and co-founder of Mission Control Media, named one of the top non-scripted production companies in the world four years in a row by RealScreen, a leading TV industry association. He is the executive producer of NBC’s Hollywood Game Night hosted by Jane Lynch. The star-studded game show has earned multiple Emmy Awards and WGA awards among others. Along with producing partner Dwight D. Smith, Agbabian also has produced such projects as Last Comic Standing, Game Show Marathon, Project Runway, Weakest Link, Phenomenon, I’ve Got a Secret, and Hit Me Baby One More Time. 

The Michael Agbabian EPIC Seed Fund Award was granted to FinAssist, an online platform that helps people apply for a loan to many financial institutions simultaneously, get personalized loan offers, and choose the one that best fits their needs. This award will help FinAssist kick start its journey in getting more funding to launch the startup.

Davit Mikayelyan, co-founder of FinAssist and recipient of the Michael Agbabian EPIC Seed Fund Award, shared his EPIC experience: “Demo Day was a great opportunity to demonstrate what we have accomplished at EPIC. For months, we worked in a friendly environment surrounded by individuals who listened and gave constructive feedback, inspired, and motivated us. We gained invaluable knowledge to develop our startup. We are thankful to those at EPIC who put their energy and efforts to make this program a better place for startups. It was an honor to pitch at the EPIC Spring Demo Day, and it was really a surprise to win the prize. We are thankful to EPIC for the inspiration and encouragement.”

The Michael Agbabian EPIC Innovator Prize was awarded to Smart Green, an automation control system that utilizes the Internet of things and cloud computing technology developed for small and medium greenhouses to increase their efficiency by decreasing the costs and waste caused by human factors.  

“Everything went well. The prize was unexpected because I thought it would be given to a startup which has an AI solution,” said Mher Yerznkanyan, co-founder of Smart Green. “With the prize, we plan to purchase equipment and cover our current startup costs.” With a planned initial rollout in Armenia, Smart Green hopes to eventually scale its services overseas.

The EPIC Spring Demo Day concluded with a reception where the teams had a chance to network and answer questions posed by interested investors and entrepreneurs.

AUA President Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian remarked: “I was impressed by the enthusiasm, professionalism and boldness of all the presenters. They were well prepared and had convincing pitches. Considering that they started as very early-stage entrepreneurs, it is remarkable how far they have come. Kudos to EPIC for mentoring these young teams to a stage that they are now ready to take the next step toward realizing their dreams. I wish them all well, but they should not be discouraged by failure, since failure is a part of the path toward eventual success.”

You can watch a replay of the EPIC Demo Day presentations here.

The Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center (EPIC) is a platform of the American University of Armenia (AUA) for promoting entrepreneurial education, cross-disciplinary collaboration, and startup venture incubation. EPIC provides an ecosystem for 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 in students and faculty at AUA to craft high-impact multidisciplinary ventures.