EPIC Welcomes New Startups With Team-Building Workshop2 min read
YEREVAN, Armenia — As the Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center (EPIC) of the American University of Armenia (AUA) moves forward in the early stages of the Fall 2021 Incubation Program, strong emphasis is placed on teamwork and team dynamics among the startup teams. On October 2, 2021, EPIC organized its twice-yearly team-building workshop for the incoming Fall 2021 batch. The workshop was facilitated by Adjunct Assistant Professor at the AUA Manoogian Simone College of Business and Economics (CBE) Dr. Hilda Grigorian, EPIC Operations and Community Manager Anna Khachatryan, and EPIC Assistant Director Nejdeh Hovanessian.
The workshop focused on the importance of professional and effective communication in the business realm and among team members. Dr. Grigorian emphasized the role of skillful communication in ensuring that the message is delivered in the intended way. To practice active listening skills, the participants were challenged with exercises and role-plays she had developed. The core objective was to ensure that the teams grasped the critical importance and value of active dialogue and effective discourse both within the scope of their professional activities and in general practice.
Dr. Grigorian also covered the essentials of conducting SWOT analysis with each startup team member. The key objective of the exercise was to master and practice self-reflection and self-analysis and to share one’s findings with teammates with a focus on highlighting the positive and negative factors that would affect team success. The workshop also provided startups with the opportunity to meet one another and offer feedback on the ideas presented during the peer-to-peer startup evaluation. Teams examined those ideas from the perspective of innovativeness, the feasibility of the technology, business model viability, and team capability.
Bringing together introverts and extroverts, music and science lovers, and all the diverse interests represented in the teams allowed them to bond faster. “During the day-long team building, EPIC residents were able to get out of their comfort zones, try themselves in various situations and express themselves as team members. They revealed new skills and had thought-provoking experiences,” explains Khachatryan.
The team-building workshop was filled with fun and engaging activities, including the M&Ms game and Marshmallow challenge. The former ice-breaker game allowed participants to learn more about one another. Each participant took an M&M candy and shared a fact about himself or herself based on the color of the candy.
During the Marshmallow challenge, the workshop participants were challenged to build the tallest structure in 18 minutes using 20 spaghetti strings, one yard of tape, one yard of twine, and one marshmallow per group. Teams came up with multiple unusual designs but many of the structures collapsed. The challenge was meant to underscore the necessity of leadership and teamwork to achieve success. It also helped participants to understand the importance of flexibility and creativity, while promoting social learning and collaboration.
The participants of the workshop enjoyed an active and cheerful Saturday and hoped to have similar activities during the program. The workshop was successful in empowering participants to improve their professional communication and networking skills. It also helped them integrate into the EPIC community and begin building relationships with one another.
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.