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EPIC Mentors: Unlocking the Potential of Armenia’s Budding Entrepreneurs

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“Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.”
Mentoring pioneer John C. Crosby

YEREVAN, Armenia — On October 15, 2021, the Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center (EPIC) of the American University of Armenia (AUA) organized an event to introduce EPIC mentors with startup teams, the first step in the process of matching mentors with EPIC teams.

“Mentorship is one of the most critical components of the EPIC Incubation Program. It is essential for the success of our program and of our startup teams. Studies have shown that mentorship can make an enormous difference in placing the entrepreneur in a position of success. Whether it is the wisdom of mentors from years of experience, their sharing of contacts and network, or the specific knowledge that they bring, the mentor-entrepreneur interaction ultimately yields startup advantages that startup teams never knew they needed. Building a culture of mentorship is vital to the health and resiliency of our innovation ecosystem,” explained Nejdeh Hovanessian, assistant director of EPIC.

The objective of the EPIC mentorship program is to sow the seeds for a lifelong mentoring relationship. To this end, attention is paid on molding a strong and durable foundation, which begins with a carefully designed mentor-mentee match. Right matching is obtained from EPIC’s deliberate and thoughtfully structured matching process that takes into account program-specific criteria, mentor interests and capabilities, and startup team needs.

Since initiating its mentor matching program two years ago, EPIC has expanded the number of mentors to approximately sixty, both local and international. Among this group of experts, there are active entrepreneurs, university professors, ecosystem professionals from consulting firms, as well as business specialists from small and large companies. 

Anna Khachatryan, EPIC operations and community manager, elaborates: “EPIC invests resources to foster a culture of mentorship in the Armenian startup ecosystem. Having top industry leaders as mentors is both very inspiring and also binding for EPIC teams.” Anna has been instrumental in planting the initial seeds of the EPIC mentorship program, which within two years has grown tremendously in both the number of mentors and the quality of mentorship outcomes.

Fifteen mentors will work with startups during the Fall 2021 Incubation Program, encouraging and enabling startups’ professional and personal development through a minimum of twice a month meetings. Mentors will help focus teams’ efforts by providing encouragement, feedback, and inspiration. With mentors’ help, the teams will be accelerating the process of idea validation and finding the right problem-solution fit for their startup ideas.  

Meet Several EPIC Mentors

Armin Saidi is CEO and co-founder at Viciniti. He has been involved in technology-driven organizations since the early 2000s. His passion for technology and keen business expertise enables him to successfully deploy products and services for a wide array of businesses. With a strong technical background, vast knowledge and experience in the mobile, wireless, cloud, and edge computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) space, he has been managing the development of Viciniti for the past six years. 

Khachik Badeyan is an adjunct lecturer at AUA, teaching digital marketing. He is also a senior product manager at Synergy International Systems, leading the design and implementation of core software features and processes. As a digital marketing expert, Khachik worked at the international hospitality chain Ginosi, building its digital marketing strategies, leading it to seven-digit monthly sales across various platforms.

Katrina Menzigian is a global market analysis and consulting leader with 25 years of experience in growing and leading research practices and advising clients. She is recognized for her unique ability to help clients apply research findings to solve complex issues and address specific market opportunities and challenges. Katrina has a solid record of building relationships with senior leadership across Fortune 1000 enterprises and major service providers. 

According to a Chinese proverb, “If you want to harvest within one year, grow vegetable crops. If you want to harvest in ten years, grow trees. If you want a harvest that will last a lifetime, grow people.” 

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.

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