EPIC Demo Day
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Three Startups Win Prizes at EPIC’s 2024 Demo Day

5 min read

YEREVAN, Armenia — On June 11, the Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center (EPIC) at the American University of Armenia (AUA) hosted its highly anticipated annual Demo Day in Manoogian Hall. The auditorium was filled to capacity as attendees gathered to witness the culmination of months of hard work of the graduating startups.

Demo Day marked the conclusion of EPIC’s 15-week Incubation Program, which is built around the lean startup approach. Participants progress through mapping assumptions, developing hypotheses, and conducting intensive customer interviews with the support of dedicated coaching and mentoring, working with both local and international experts. Subsequent weeks focus on analyzing learnings, defining brand promises, crafting value propositions, and developing a minimum viable product (MVP). As Demo Day approached, the focus shifted to refining pitch decks and enhancing presentation skills to effectively convey their ideas to the audience.

The event provided a unique opportunity for attendees to engage directly with the founders during post-pitch networking and the reception, as well as directly pose their questions after each pitch through the Pigeonhole Live platform, which ensured a dynamic and interactive experience.

The highlight of the evening included three startups receiving special recognition for their exceptional work.

The master of ceremonies was Anna Khachatryan, EPIC Incubation Program lead and operations and community manager. “This Demo Day was the best one yet. We were thrilled to see a great turnout of AUA students and alumni. The startups in this batch were incredibly diverse, addressing both local and international issues, which made the entire batch of the program so engaging,” she reflected.

Special Branding Prize From Digital Factory

The first award of the evening was the special branding prize from Digital Factory, providing $2,500 worth of branding services. Presented by Digital Factory Founder and CEO Hovhannes Ghazaryan, a graduating entrepreneur from the Incubation Program, the award is designed to help the winning startup establish a distinct brand identity right from the start. The award recipient was Contractee, an innovative legal tech startup that aims to change the contract management field by automating the manual tasks of contract lawyers.

Contractee addresses the substantial time and resources IT companies invest in legal documentation, particularly contract negotiations. Its platform simplifies this process with a risk assessment tool that evaluates contract risks, offers mitigation strategies, and empowers lawyers to work more efficiently. The pitch was delivered by Sargis Ghazaryan (BSCS ’27), a software engineer, in place of co-founder Vladimir Maghakyan (QMUL LL.M. ’22), who was participating in London Tech Week and showcasing their startup on an international stage.

Winner of the $1,000 Michael Agbabian EPIC Innovator Prize

The second award of the evening, the $1,000 Michael Agbabian EPIC Innovator Prize, was awarded to Tokenvest. Tokenvest is a community-driven decentralized crowdfunding platform utilizing blockchain and DAO technologies for funding campaigns. The platform aims to transition the reward-based crowdfunding ecosystem to Web3, addressing issues such as fraud, regional limitations, and high transaction fees.

Tokenvest already has several companies lined up to launch their crowdfunding campaigns as preliminary users on their platform. The pitch was delivered by Hrach Avagyan, co-founder and CEO of HydraLab LLC, a software outsourcing company.

Winner of the $2,500 Michael Agbabian EPIC Seed Fund Award

The final award, the $2,500 Michael Agbabian EPIC Seed Fund Award, was secured by Lookify. Lookify is an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered styling app designed to help users effortlessly create personalized outfits for any occasion, shop smarter, and maximize their existing wardrobe. By digitizing their closet and offering selections from their favorite brands, Lookify enables users to discover new outfit combinations and make confident purchases that align with their personal style.

Composed of five passionate AUA students, the Lookify team demonstrated exceptional dedication and innovation throughout the program. They conducted over 100 customer interviews during the Incubation period, setting a record for engagement and customer discovery.

Lookify’s consistent top performance in the Incubation Program’s scoreboard, a gamification component that awards points based on performance for task completion, highlights the team’s commitment and potential for future growth.

Observations and Insights From EPIC’s 14th Batch Graduation

As the 14th batch of EPIC’s Incubation Program concludes, several key observations highlight the innovative solutions and potential impact of the winning startups. The diverse range of ideas presented, from contract management automation to decentralized crowdfunding and AI-powered fashion styling, underscores the ingenuity and forward-thinking mindset of the participants. These startups not only address current market needs, but also have the potential to significantly influence their respective industries. Contractee aims to streamline the legal industry, Tokenvest leverages blockchain to revolutionize crowdfunding, and Lookify uses AI to enhance personal styling experiences.

A noticeable trend in this batch was the strong emphasis on AI and blockchain technologies. Many of the ten graduating startups incorporated these advanced technologies to solve complex problems, reflecting broader trends in the global startup ecosystem. AI’s ability to analyze large datasets and provide personalized solutions, coupled with blockchain’s promise of transparency and decentralization, is becoming increasingly prominent in new business models.

EPIC’s Incubation Program, the only uninterrupted program in Armenia since 2017, has successfully graduated 14 batches of startups over the years, fostering a vibrant startup ecosystem. The program offers a comprehensive approach that combines team-building activities, entrepreneurial mindset development, lean startup methodology, customer discovery, and extensive mentoring. This holistic approach ensures that startups are well-prepared to face market challenges and scale their ventures effectively.

The success of this batch is a testament to EPIC’s commitment to fostering entrepreneurial talent and driving innovation in Armenia. Looking forward to future cohorts, EPIC remains dedicated to supporting startups in transforming their ideas into promising solutions.

What Comes Next

Looking ahead, EPIC is committed to further supporting the startup ecosystem and fostering the next generation of innovative entrepreneurs. In the fall, EPIC will launch new batches for its Incubation Program, marking the Program’s 15th cohort. Additionally, EPIC looks forward to restarting the sixth batch of the STRIVE program, a unique pre-Incubation initiative designed to develop entrepreneurial mindsets and prepare individuals for future participation in the Incubation Program.

This summer, EPIC’s focus will be on the STRIVE Pre-U program, an offshoot of the popular EPIC STRIVE. This condensed four-week program is specially designed to introduce hundreds of incoming AUA freshmen to the world of entrepreneurship and, more importantly, to teach them the entrepreneurial way of thinking.

Furthermore, EPIC will actively participate in the Seaside Startup Summit (SSS), engaging in talks, workshops, training sessions, and mentoring. The Center encourages all startups to participate in SSS, a unique event that offers valuable networking and learning opportunities.

Applications for both the Incubation and STRIVE programs will open in August, offering promising young entrepreneurs the opportunity to join a thriving community and benefit from EPIC’s comprehensive support system. EPIC encourages everyone to stay up to date on its offerings by following EPIC on social media and visiting the Center’s website to ensure application deadlines are not missed.

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.