ServiceTitan Co-founder Shares His Entrepreneurial Journey at EPIC Hack Night
YEREVAN, Armenia — On September 30, the Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center (EPIC) of the American University of Armenia (AUA) hosted Vahe Kuzoyan, the co-founder and president of ServiceTitan, at the first Entrepreneurship Hack Night of fall 2022. These are monthly talks with invited guests, leading entrepreneurs, and prominent businesspeople from around the world to talk to and inspire AUA students and residents of EPIC’s startup incubation program, sharing with them valuable insights and experiences in building their own companies.
Vahe founded ServiceTitan in 2007 with co-founder Ara Mahdessian. ServiceTitan is one of the two Armenian unicorns employing over three hundred people in Armenia and close to two thousand worldwide. Their mobile platform enables home service companies to run smoothly, provide better customer service and grow their businesses. Born in Vanadzor to a family involved in private enterprise, Vahe witnessed the challenges his father was facing in his plumbing business and was determined to help him modernize it. This effort thus evolved into ServiceTitan and its SaaS platform.
Kuzoyan spoke to a packed audience in AUA’s Manoogian Hall. A large number of students, faculty, EPIC entrepreneurs, and community members attended the Hack Night. Also present were many current employees of ServiceTitan’s Yerevan office, an employer of many AUA graduates.
The talk, which lasted almost two hours, was a fireside chat where Professor Michael Kouchakdjian, director of EPIC, conversed with Vahe Kuzoyan. He introduced Kuzoyan as a close friend of AUA and someone who has consistently supported the University as an AUA Changemaker and scholarship donor. Kuzoyan also sponsored the Entrepreneurship World Cup 2022, which EPIC had organized this past summer.
Kuzoyan captivated the audience with his inspiring story, from his humble beginnings as a university graduate with no startup and little business experience to being on the brink of ServiceTitan’s initial public offering. Simultaneously, ServiceTitan has inspired Armenians around the world. Students were captivated by a journey that was both fascinating and unthinkable. Starting from how the idea of ServiceTitan was born as a solution to the problem of streamlining and managing his father’s business; to fast growth and extension of reach to clients in the United States and also expansion of operations in Armenia.
Vahe’s style of storytelling was unique, intriguing, and filled with humor. He also publicly talked about the fears that kept him awake at night while building the venture — his fear of failure and letting down the people that supported him, and ServiceTitan customers. Kuzoyan discussed the real startup challenge of finding the right product-market fit — providing a product to ServiceTitan customers that they could not live without.
During a Q&A session that followed, Kuzoyan also spoke about the formula for success. “To be a good entrepreneur, you have to have a nose to smell the pain of potential customers and learn how to provide a solution for it… First, find your product-market fit, then scale; many businesses fail to do the latter before adequately establishing the former.” To the question of how to maintain the company’s success and decide which tasks need immediate attention, he used the metaphor of there always being fires in the organization. The tasks in a company are like fires, and we have to accept the fact that there are fires all the time, and we have to decide which fire to put out first.
Kuzoyan also mentioned that the first hires of ServiceTitan’s Armenian office were engineers. He went on to say that while each year, many students graduate from universities in Armenia, however, there is still a shortage of engineers, data scientists, and computer scientists. This said, he encouraged students to continue their education in those fields.
The first entrepreneurship hack night was very engaging and informative. “Vahe’s talk was very inspirational. He mentioned that the fear of losing was what kept him going. It greatly impressed me,” said business student Hayk Ter-Stepanyan (BAB ‘26). “Resourcefulness is inevitable for success, however, what I found interesting was Vahe’s flexibility. Being skillful and knowing how to react to specific challenging situations to achieve goals is a message everyone can utilize,” mentioned another student, Milena Palyan (BAB ’26). “Vahe’s talk was very inspiring. I’ve got the feeling that he was truly committed to sharing as much as he could with the audience, without holding back. The details of his story helped me draw parallels with my startup. I realized I should strive to make a product that customers would fight for,” remarked David Aleksanyan, one of EPIC’s resident entrepreneurs. Anna Malkhasyan, another EPIC resident added, “It was impressive that despite the challenging obstacles, they did not give up. Even when it seemed like there was no reason to continue, they managed to find creative ways to keep the business going.”
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.