On November 23, 2013, CEED Armenia brought together a diverse group of successful entrepreneurs, business executives and students for CEED Talks, a workshop that focused on the challenges in establishing and growing a prosperous business.
Lectures covered a variety of topics, from moving an idea to production, to cultivating workplace ingenuity, to the strategic necessity of lawyers. Speakers came from a variety of backgrounds, however they all understood the complexity of bringing a product to market during a time of slow economic growth and a lack of sound small business development centers.
Shushan Arevshatyan of Radio Van spoke on the process of building an effective team, stressing the importance of creating motivation for employees to succeed while fostering a culture of creativity and innovation. For example, she emphasized allocating a space for employees to come together over coffee, which oftentimes results in more innovative ideas. Shushanik also emphasized that quality is achieved when team members know full well that the company is committed to meeting their needs.
Stepan Khzrtian of LegalLab Law Boutique focused on a lawyer’s role in building a business. Whereas one often views a lawyer as a “translator of legalese”, lawyers are, in fact, architects of optimal strategies for their partners, generators of win-win solutions for both parties, and diplomats who find appropriate language to navigate difficult discussions.
Arsen Gevorgyan of SFL captivated the audience with his insights gained from the 1000+ interviews he conducted to form his team. He emphasized the importance of attracting team members whose skill sets and personalities complement one another. As the employer, he works hard to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable and appreciated. The audience had a chance to watch a video recorded by an SFL team member on her own initiative to share with the world what being part of the SFL team is like.
Arman Atoyan of X-Tech shared his story of starting from simple roots and talked about his rise to a nationally recognizable brand. He emphasized investing in quality products to build up a portfolio, a thorough understanding of the competition and market. He also focused on the importance of a strong team, and marketing strategies which helped him generate maximum results with limited financial investment, such as leveraging social media and providing certain services free of charge.
Raffi Kassarjian explored the process of building a business from idea to product. He emphasized the importance of differentiation, giving examples of various products that have undergone signification evolution. The companies that have become more competitive are the ones who have developed a unique position in the market and have continued innovating to ensure they stay ahead of the game. He also shared lessons learned from iCON Communications, a company he led before it was acquired by Ucom.
Ani Harutyunyan of Crumbs Bread Factory shared her wisdom about establishing a business, knowing full well that things rarely unfold according to plan. “Know your job well,” she says, “and take into account both positive and negative opinions to continue improving.” Shouldering hard work is what will pay off in the end. Ani also advised to look for enthusiasm and a quick mind when hiring, as these qualities are essential to success and can often be more valuable than one’s experience.
Gevorg Safaryan of LimeTech knows what it’s like to overcome obstacles and to thrive in a challenging environment. In building his business, Gevorg took a route that was different from the traditional approach, but ended up being critical to his success. Having recently celebrated LimeTech’s 5th anniversary after rebranding to more effectively communicate the company’s proposition, Gevorg shared with the audience the lessons learned over the course of this journey and encouraged feedback from the audience.
Vahagn Poghosyan of Instigate shared with the audience the process of creating companies from simple ideas. Having developed Instigate into one of the most recognized IT brands in Armenia, Vahagn and its co-founders further built it into an incubator of innovative ideas, thereby creating a number of spin off companies that currently operate in the market. Instigate has opened offices across Armenia and has significantly benefited from its operations outside of Yerevan.
Raffi Niziblian of DEEM Communications wrapped up the day’s event discussing the skills necessary to ensure entrepreneurial success, including taking ownership and responsibility, using creativity, persuasiveness and professionalism, all the while having passion, vision, audacity, persistence, humility, and courage.
Overall, CEED Talks succeeded in continuing the dialogue in the Armenia entrepreneurial community that drew in talent, experience and curiosity, factors that indicate the growing trend and focus on entrepreneurship in Armenia.