EPIC’s STRIVE Pre-U: Students Launch Their Startup Journey

3 min read

YEREVAN, Armenia — On March 16, the Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center (EPIC) of the American University of Armenia (AUA) launched STRIVE Pre-U, a condensed 8-week program specially designed for graduating high school students preparing to enter university. The program introduces students to the world of entrepreneurship and, more specifically, to the entrepreneurial way of thinking, developing in them a growth mindset a way of being open to challenges and flexible to growing attitudes, behaviors, and skills essential for entrepreneurism. 

The pilot cohort of STRIVE Pre-U has demonstrated encouraging outcomes. The first group of students comprised 36 participants in their last year of high school (HS) and from diverse backgrounds. The majority of these HS seniors have secured admission to various universities, including AUA. This program gives them a head start to the university environment and way of thinking that will be useful when they start college.

The below table provides the demographic breakdown of the Spring 2023 pilot cohort: 

Number of registered participants


Number of graduating participants


Age range


Graduates by gender

17 boys / 17 girls

Geographic distribution 

30 students from Yerevan 

1 student from outside Yerevan 

2 diasporan students

1 international student

The participants are students in public and private schools, including PhysMath School, European College in Armenia, French College in Armenia (LPFA), Shahid Fahmideh Educational Complex adjacent to Iranian Embassy, Yerevan State College of Humanities, Gazprom Educational Complex, Yeritsyan Gymnasium, Yerevak Educational Center, and public schools, includingHigh School No.29 after Andranik Margaryan, Aramais Yerznkyan High School No.118, Secondary School No.175, High School No.195, and National Polytechnic University of Armenia’s High School. 

The majority of students have expressed a desire to pursue higher education in computer science, data science and engineering, as well as marketing and entrepreneurship. 

All of the students are proficient in English. STRIVE Pre-U sessions were conducted in English, at their preference. 

Below are excerpts from the expressed impressions of STRIVE Pre-U graduates:

  • Manana Sedrakyan, PhysMath School, aspiring entrepreneur

“The knowledge and experience I gained during this course have meant a lot to me. I want to become an entrepreneur and I already have a startup idea that I am going to implement. STRIVE has given me the necessary knowledge to achieve my goal. It also helped me improve my English language skills and make new acquaintances.”

  • Zara Ohanyan, Gazprom Educational Complex, prospective manager

“Throughout my life, I have been drawn to innovative ideas and projects. When entering the program, I believed that it would help me take my passion for entrepreneurship to the real world, where I would have the opportunity to develop my knowledge and competences in the field. STRIVE is my first introductory program in entrepreneurship and has taught me not only the basics of the sphere but also some tips on how to generate startup ideas, find appropriate teammates, and implement projects. It gave me the opportunity to network with like-minded people, generate ideas, as well as take my first steps in the exciting world of entrepreneurship.”

  • Michael Yeghiazaryan, PhysMath School, future data scientist

“For me, these days, business intelligence is a vital knowledge for anyone, regardless of the field of your specialization — medicine, science, or law. Being able to successfully turn your initiative into a startup and serve the public good is the key to personal growth, that’s why I was eager to take part in STRIVE. It provided me with practical and useful knowledge about startup culture and entrepreneurship.”

  • Meri Grigoryan, High School No.195, budding computer scientist

“Participating in STRIVE has allowed me to develop practical skills, network with like-minded individuals, and make a positive impact in my community. I was especially eager to develop my skills and knowledge in marketing, sales, and product development. As someone who is constantly seeking to learn and grow, I believe that the program has provided me with hands-on experience and practical skills that I can apply to my future endeavors.”

  • Lili Grigoryan, LPFA, future entrepreneur

“During the Strive Pre-U program, I gained a solid foundation in important concepts and skills that will be essential for advancing in my future career. I learned how to create effective business plans, how to manage my time, and of course, developed communication and teamwork skills through various group projects. Honestly, I really enjoyed my classes and found them highly valuable. They provided me with a great foundation for my future career and gave me a better understanding of how businesses operate.”

  • Kiarash Kazemi, Shahid Fahmideh Educational Complex, future entrepreneur

“I learned so many things from this course. When I registered for it, my goal was to develop the right mindset and dismiss my fear of failure to run a business. Now, I can confidently state this course not only taught me the dos and don’ts of startups, but also introduced me to many successful startups, also connecting me with some of them. I am immensely grateful for all the opportunities I was given.”

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.