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EPIC Wraps Up Spring STRIVE Pre-Incubation Program

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YEREVAN, Armenia — On May 6, the Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center (EPIC) of the American University of Armenia (AUA) held its closing event for the Spring batch of its STRIVE pre-incubation program. Simultaneously, EPIC marked the completion of the inaugural STRIVE Pre-U program.

EPIC Wraps Up Spring STRIVE Pre-Incubation ProgramSTRIVE is a first-of-its-kind pre-incubation program in the Armenian startup ecosystem. The program seeks to engage participants from all walks of life, regardless of prior work experience or startup engagement and aims to instill in them an aspiring mindset by coaching them in defining, analyzing, and testing the most fundamental concepts of entrepreneurship and innovation. This spring, EPIC piloted a new program, STRIVE Pre-U, which is specially designed for graduating 12th-grade high school students preparing to enter university. A condensed 8-week program, STRIVE Pre-U seeks to engage pre-college students acquainting them with an entrepreneurial mindset — a way of thinking and a skillset that enables people to identify and make the most of opportunities, solve problems, overcome and learn from setbacks and succeed in a variety of settings. The program leads for STRIVE and STRIVE Pre-U, respectively, are Alisa Chalakhyan and Sona Martirosyan, both possessing years of experience in guiding startups and educating prospective young entrepreneurs in new venture initiation.

Sona Mardirossian states, “Working with the participants of our first cohort at STRIVE Pre-U has been a complete joy. Their sincere enthusiasm and desire to learn while taking their first steps to starting their academic career was energizing and provided optimism in the next generation.”

The program’s concluding event, Entrepreneurial Hunt, involved forming integrated teams consisting of more experienced STRIVE participants and graduating high school students from STRIVE Pre-U. The teams were challenged to use a pre-investment sum of AMD 2,000 and strive to increase this “initial capital” within two hours using creative ways around the center of Yerevan. The activity aimed to teach participants to overcome inhibitions, understand the challenges of selling, be creative and think innovatively to generate revenue. Some teams even came back with double or triple the initial investment, with one team achieving an impressive 10x return with its persistence and growth mindset. The teams returned to AUA and shared their experiences with one another, recounting humorous episodes, the challenges they overcame, and both positive and negative incidents — all important real-world learning experiences nonetheless.

Following the Entrepreneurial Hunt, there was a one-hour retrospective of past year’s STRIVE with current and previous graduates sharing their accomplishments and experiences.

Among past participants of STRIVE sharing their experiences was Margo Sargsyan (BAEC ‘19), an AUA alumna currently working as a psychologist, who said, STRIVE helped me understand strategy management and how to develop ideas. Whatever you do, it’ll have a significant impact not only on you but also on the community around you.

Anush Muradyan (BAB ‘24), a graduate of both STRIVE and the EPIC incubation program, emphasized the importance of sales and growth, while Neva Karapetyan briefed about the website she founded to sell flowers with no prior business background but, attending the program, she succeeded to expand her business network.EPIC Wraps Up Spring STRIVE Pre-Incubation Program

The event concluded with remarks by EPIC Director Michael Kouchakdjian, “In entrepreneurship in Armenia, mindset matters — how people think. You have to think with an open mind, without fear of failure, and with a drive to realize change despite obstacles.”

For more information on STRIVE at EPIC, please visit the EPIC website.

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.