By Monique Svazlian
Special to the Mirror-Spectator
LOS ANGELES — It’s not often one gets to meet a young, successful banker-turned-tech-entrepreneur of Armenian descent. As Armenians, our parents tend to encourage us down traditional career paths where one can make a good salary, save one’s pennies and eventually buy a house and start a family. Veering off course and taking big risks on an unknown venture is usually frowned upon. But that is exactly what Hovhaness Marukyan Zirekyants decided to do at the age of 28 at the peak of his career.
Hovhaness or “Hov” as he likes to be called, has a familiar story similar to many Armenian immigrants. His parents are professional musicians trained in Armenia who came to the United States to give their children a better future when Zirekyants was 15. At the age of 18, he started working as a bank teller and later went on to become a Private Client Banker for Chase Bank, making a six-figure salary. As soon as he got his first job, his mother spoke to him the importance of saving money, and he opened his first savings account. By the time he was 27, he had saved enough money to purchase his first house.
But as he continued down this traditional career path, something inside of him was brewing. “When I worked in banking, I could see a lot of money related stress in people. I’d been saving about 30-50 percent of my income since I first started working, and ultimately it’s what allowed me to leave my job. But many people I serviced didn’t have the same savings skills. That’s when the idea of Savely was first born.”
Although he had achieved what most would consider “success” at a fairly young age, Zirekyants knew there was something more he was meant to do. His original plan was to get an MBA at a top business school to pursue his dreams. “I got a 62 percent the first time I took the GMAT and then a 71 percent. I thought I needed a prestigious degree for people to take me seriously. But a friend challenged me one day and asked me ‘why do you even need an MBA?’ And it just shook me awake. A few days later I told my boss I was quitting and abandoned my pursuit of an MBA.”