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

YEREVAN, Armenia — “Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction”, stated mentoring pioneer John C. Crosby. On October 15, the Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center (EPIC) of the American University of Armenia (AUA) organized a mentor matching event focusing on mutual introductions of mentors and startup teams. This event is the first step in the process of matching mentors with EPIC teams.

“Mentorship is one of the most critical components of the EPIC Incubator program. It is essential to the success of our program and to the success of our startup teams. Study after study have shown that mentorship can make an enormous difference in setting the entrepreneur up for success. Whether it is the wisdom from years of experience, the sharing of contacts and network, or the specific knowledge that mentors can bring, the interaction between mentor and entrepreneur ultimately can give the startup team advantages that they never knew they needed. Building a culture of mentorship is vital to the health and resiliency of our innovation ecosystem”, stated Nejdeh Hovanessian, Assistant Director of EPIC.

The objective of the EPIC mentorship program is to increase the probability of a lifelong mentoring relationship. To this end, it needs a strong and durable foundation which all begins with a carefully designed match. The mentor matching program is derived from a deliberate, thoughtful matching process which takes into account program-specific criteria, mentor interests and capabilities, and startup team needs.

Since initiating its mentor matching program 2 years ago, EPIC has expanded the number of mentors to approximately sixty local and international mentors. Among the mentors, there are active entrepreneurs, university professors, ecosystem professionals from consulting firms, and small and large companies. 

Anna Khachatryan, the Operations and Community Manager of EPIC mentions: “EPIC invests resources to foster the culture of mentorship in the Armenian startup ecosystem. Having top industry leaders  as mentors is both very inspiring and binding for EPIC teams.” Indeed, it was Anna who planted the initial seeds of the EPIC mentorship program two years ago. Since then, it has grown tremendously in both number of mentors and quality of mentorship outcomes.

Fifteen mentors will work with startups during the Fall 2021 batch, 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. By the help of mentors, teams will be accelerating the process of idea validation and finding the right problem-solution fit for their startup ideas.  

Meet Several of EPIC Mentors

Armin Saidi 

Armin 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

Khachik 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 six and seven digit monthly sales across various platforms.

Katrina Menzigian

Katrina 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 problem-solve complex issues and address specific market opportunities and challenges. She has extensive experience building relationships with senior leadership across Fortune 1000 enterprises and major service providers. 

According to the Chinese Proverb, “If you want to harvest in one year, grow a crop.  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.