Ashot Arzumanyan speaks

Armenian Tech Start-ups and Venture Capital – Reaching for the Brass Ring


By Berge Ayvazian


BOSTON and NEW YORK — Armenia has emerged as a rising star of tech entrepreneurship, targeting to be one of the top next generation technology hubs. This was the theme of the two #FutureIsTech networking evening meetings in Boston and New York City, devoted to the potential for tech start-ups and venture capital in Armenia.

More than 80 young professionals attended these two inspiring meetups with friends and enthusiasts at the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) Center in Watertown on January 19, and later at the Microsoft Technology Center, in New York, on January 24.

The programs in the two cities featured a presentation by Ashot Arzumanyan, co-founder of SmartGateVC, an Armenian pre-seed venture capital firm.

Arzumanyan presented the history and potential of the Armenian tech community as an opportunity to invest in a promising startup. He emphasized the progress made in the Armenian tech economy and venture capital (VC) investments in Armenia over the past three years. A total of $87 million in cumulative disclosed venture capital funding has been raised between 2015-2017, by Armenian start-ups including PicsArt, Codefights, SoloLearn and Teamable, led by major VCs including Sequoia, Sutter Hill Ventures, DCM Ventures, Learn Capital, e.venutures and True Ventures. There have also been several notable acquisitions of Armenian high tech companies since 2010, including

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* Virage Logic being acquired by Synopsys in 2010

* Itegrien acquired by vmware in 2010

* Monitis acquitted by GFI in 2011

* LiveLook acquired by Oracle in 2014

* Icon apps acquired by Science in 2014

* Memori acruired by Cisco in 2014

* Sorcio acquired by Helpsystems in 2016

* 6cdm acquired by Moody’s in 2017

“Armenian tech has great team, reliable track record and clear focus on succeeding globally,” he said.

SmartGateVC is newly launched venture capital firm backed by top-tier investors from Silicon Valley targeting seed stage investments in Armenian tech companies in Artificial Intelligence, Cyber-Security, Block Chain/Quantum Physics and the Internet of Things. This new fund is designed to complement larger VCs such as Granatus Ventures and Hive Fund both founded in 2014.

In addition to Arzumanyan, formerly of Granatus Ventures, the co-founders of SmartGateVC include Vazgen Hakobjyan, CTO of Teamable, and Hambardzum Kaghketsyan of Draper University, leading the Silicon Valley executive entrepreneurship program founded by Venture Capitalist Tim Draper.

SmartGateVC has raised $500,000 to date and plans to provide pre-seed investments to promising Armenian entrepreneurs and support their start-ups through the early stage of their development. Having attracted a large group of advisors and mentors, the new firm has plans to raise another $1-2 million this spring to support its first 4-6 portfolio companies.

(Berge Ayvazian is co-founder of the Armenian High Tech Council [Armtech].)

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