From February till June, CEED Armenia ran the Armenia – US IT Acceleration Program. The goal was to help Armenian technology startups connect to Silicon Valley resources and succeed in global markets. At the Demo Day May 14th five entrepreneurs were selected to visit the Bay Area to meet with potential investors, clients, and partners. The entrepreneurs also had the chance to present at the Armenia IT Forum, which was organized in the Bay Area on June 10.
The acceleration program that took place in Armenia included a range of training sessions on topics of particular relevance for startups, including product-market fit, minimum viable product (MVP), business models, fundraising, sales, key performance indicators (KPIs), legal issues, intellectual property (IP), etc. The sessions were led by experienced entrepreneurs, investors and experts from Armenia and abroad. The participants had a chance to learn from accomplished instructors as Jeff Hoffman, Co-founder of Priceline.com, seasoned business executive and investor (based in Chicago); Naeem Zafar, Founder and CEO of TeleSense and entrepreneurship instructor in the MBA program at the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley (based in Silicon Valley); Amoor Avakian, Co-founder of successful companies in Israel, Netherlands, and Armenia and CTO of Ginosi (based in Yerevan), Jaka Levstek, serial entrepreneur and CEO of D.Labs (based in London), and many others.
Another important element of the local acceleration program was creating opportunities for participants to practice their pitches. In order to provide global perspectives, CEED engaged international investors, such as Sam Sezak, Partner at Blue Heron Capital (Portland, OR), to listen to the pitches and share comments and recommendations. Participants also received feedback from Max Gurvits, Director for CEE, CIS, and MENA at Cross Border Angels; James Hunt, Managing Partner at Lavrock Ventures (Washington, DC); and Ronald Weissman, Chairman of Software SIG at Band of Angels (Silicon Valley). In addition to his experience as an investor, Ronald Weissman has extensively worked with Steve Jobs and has valuable insights to share about working with a visionary entrepreneur.
The program is funded by the Enterprise Incubator Foundation, Government of Armenia, and the World Bank.