Armenian Startups Advance as Entrepreneurship World Cup Global 100 Finalists4 min read
Two Armenian startups selected from among 100,000 registrations in 200 countries will compete for a share of $1 million prize money and additional benefits.
YEREVAN, Armenia — Two Armenia-based startups will compete in the Entrepreneurship World Cup (EWC) Global Finals, organizers announced on October 4, 2021. Denovo Sciences and Zoomerang are among the 100 startups known collectively as the Entrepreneurship World Cup 100 (EWC 100) that have advanced to the next stage of the competition. Denovo Sciences is a deep technology company that creates novel therapeutics using state-of-the-art AI technologies, and Zoomerang is an application for creating/editing state-of-the-art short-form videos.
One hundred startups worldwide will compete in the Entrepreneurship World Cup virtual Global Quarter-Finals with winners advancing to the Global Finals on November 17-18 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
The EWC is among the largest and most diverse global pitch competitions that provide startup founders with support for further advancement. The EWC was launched in 2019 and has to date supported over 300,000 participants from 200 countries, providing $2 million awards in cash prizes alongside program support and services equivalent to $150 million.
The 2021 competition has attracted 100,000 registrants from 200 countries. At the National Finals, one thousand startups have pitched in front of the jury comprising entrepreneurship organizations from across six continents. The EWC Global 100 Finals include startups from Africa (11), Asia (26), Europe (22), Middle East (10), North America (13), Oceania (4), and South America (14).
The two national representative startups from Armenia, Denovo Sciences and Zoomerang, have completed the two-month Accelerate 2 stage. The teams had the opportunity to participate in weekly lectures and connect to the special EWC chat group. They also were in regular discussions with the teams who have won in their respective country competitions.
Vardan Harutyunyan and Mher Matevosyan from Denovo Sciences shared their experiences from the Accelerate 2 program. They particularly value what they have gained from participation in a series of interesting sessions and highlight their usefulness in terms of peer-to-peer learning from the successes/failures of other venture founders.
Marty Kaszubowski, the executive director for innovation initiatives in the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE) at Old Dominion University (ODU) has been the mentor of Denovo Sciences for four weeks. The team is thankful for having such a responsive and supportive mentor, available for meetings, consultations, and providing relevant advice throughout the program. The mentor himself had the opportunity of visiting Armenia back in 2010 when the startup ecosystem was rather nascent. He was delighted to see the advances the Armenia ecosystem has achieved since.
Denovo Sciences were selected among the Top 100 Finalists. Though they still have more challenges to overcome as the team is now aiming to be among the Top 25 Finalists who will go to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The 100 Finalists will have the opportunity to collaborate with King Abdullah University of Sciences and Technology (KAUST), which has huge financial resources and networking capacities that would help entrepreneurs meet the prime objectives of their startups to attract investors and partners.
Denovo Sciences expresses deep gratitude to the Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center (EPIC) of the American University of Armenia (AUA) and the whole EWC Armenia National Leadership Committee for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of representing Armenia on the world stage. They feel a huge responsibility toward that and will work hard not to disappoint their supporters’ expectations.
Nejdeh Hovanessian, assistant director of EPIC and EWC Armenia national coordinator commented, “Both our teams are world-class. It is clear that they are well-equipped to compete with the best startups in the world — a credit to the thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in Armenia.”
David Grigoryan, co-founder of Zoomerang, was excited to participate in the Accelerate 2 program emphasizing the productive sessions the team had in the fields of business and technology, marketing, user behavior analysis and improved messaging to users. The sessions had an introductory part where teams met one another, shared knowledge, and came up with new ideas. David submits that there are many brilliant startups soon to be launched around the world.
The Zoomerang team still keeps in touch with their mentor, Sergio Mankita, a marketing and advertising specialist who has assisted the team to better identify their target markets, improve messaging and positioning, and craft their story for pitch decks. Only with the mentor’s valuable advice could the team review and improve their pitch, focusing on the technique of pitching in front of potential investors, and develop the marketing strategy to follow.
Professor Michael Kouchakdjian, director of EPIC, commented, “We are so proud of these two teams. They have worked very hard and no doubt they will continue to represent Armenia well in the competition. We wish them good luck.”
The EWC 100 will compete for a share of US $1 million in cash prizes — $500,000 for first place, $250,000 for second, and $100,000 for third. Cash prizes of $100,000 will also be awarded to the top-scoring startups in the idea stage and social enterprise categories.
The EWC 100 Finalists will attend a virtual bootcamp on October 10-11, hosted by the Entrepreneurship Center at KAUST, working with experts to advance their business and pitching skills. A second virtual component will take place in late October and the top 25 startups will advance to the final stage of the competition in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, at the Misk Global Forum.
The EWC is hosted globally by the Misk Global Forum, Global Entrepreneurship Network and The Global Education & Leadership Foundation. It is supported by global partners including One Valley, Entrepreneurs’ Organization, the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, GAN, and Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs.
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.