Initial Results From the USAID/EDMC, GEP, and ATS-Sponsored Armenia StartUp Cup 
Extreme Build-A-Business Weekend

A small team of StartUp Cup mentors and graphic facilitators traveled to Yerevan, Armenia on September 20, 2012 to support launching the Armenia StartUp Cup business model competition. Along with conducting a series of extreme business model and startup building workshops, we had one goal in mind, to put a meaningful dent in Armenia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Armenia StartUp Cup Top 11 startup teams receive their certificates and advance to the semi-finals in the business model competitive process.

Extreme Build-A-Business Weekend
The first goal of our visit was to support increasing the quality and quantity of local coaches and mentors in the entrepreneurial community of Yerevan. We started by training 21 local seasoned entrepreneurs and business leaders on the entrepreneurial mindset, techniques for coaching entrepreneurs, business model design and accelerated go-to-market strategies. Immediately following the training session we began the two-day Extreme Build-A-Business Weekend program where the freshly certified coaches applied their new coaching skills with the local entrepreneurs competing in the Armenia StartUp Cup. The result was an increased focus on team development, business model design, customer development, assumption testing, and revenue generation.

Startup Mentoring Goals
1) To support each startup team in understanding that they needed to learn and take a long view beyond the business idea in order to advance their startup. It was important to introduce each team to the entrepreneurial mindset and visual thinking as a foundation for startup success.

2) To share the key elements of business model design (Using the Business Model Scorecard) including: customer development strategies, revenue model development, team building, bootstrapping techniques, and accelerated go-to-market strategies.

3) To inspire startup teams to take action and start testing their customer and business model assumptions by going out and engaging customers, securing key licenses and certificates required to start their company, securing limited funding, and start selling their product(s) or service(s) right away.

4) To train a collection of Armenia mentors and StartUp Cup judges on business model design accelerated customer development, and go-to-market strategies that support entrepreneurs to launch their startups quickly and, in the process, secure customers, generate revenue, and/or secure funding.

Armenia StartUp Cup entrepreneurs working on the design of their business using the StartUp Cookbook and Business Model Scorecard visual thinking tools.

The Results

  • 24 hours, 11 startup teams, 118 coaching sessions, by 18 coaches and mentors;
  • 78% of all startup teams invited to participate in the extreme startup coaching workshops participated over the two days;
  • 100% of startup teams will utilize the training learned in their personal lives whether they start a company or not;
  • 86.7% of startup teams went out and engaged customers working to validate their business model;
  • 87% of startup teams experienced an increase desire to start their company;
  • 71% of the startup teams launched their business during the Build-A-Business Weekend or shortly after;
  • 73% of startup teams readjusted their business models including target customer, revenue model, and go-to-market strategy;
  • StartUp Cup coaches mentored 27 fifteen minute high impact Business Model Scorecard sessions with 11 startup teams using accelerated go to market techniques;
  • Announced the Armenia StartUp Cup Top 11 advancing into the first round of live business model pitching;
  • Facilitated advancement of the first Armenia Global Entrepreneurship Week.
  • Held meetings with senior management teams at Enterprise Incubator Foundation (EIF), EV Consulting, and Microsoft Innovation Lab, DEEM Communications, and Homeland Handcrafts.

Lessons Learned

  • Armenian entrepreneurs have original ideas that are designed to maximize the unique strengths of the country;
  • Female founders represented 54.5% of all startups;
  • Strong desire to create a viable business. Natural “team” development approach;
  • Quality of entrepreneurs participating was a priority over quantity within the entrepreneurial ecosystem and specifically the Armenia StartUp Cup Organizers;
  • The StartUp Cup process is extremely effective (Entrepreneurial Mindset, Business Model Design, Team Development, Customer Engagement, Revenue Generation, and Tailored One-On-One Mentoring);
  • The Business Model Scorecard accelerates the design and building of a viable business;
  • The StartUp Cup process has the potential to change lives and empower people around the world to create their own career path;
  • Low tech, graphically facilitated strategic planning sessions support accelerating collaboration among key entrepreneurial ecosystem providers.

    Gayane Dallakyan USAID/EDMC Acting Chief of Party inspiring the entrepreneurs competing in the Armenia StartUp Cup.

Next Steps
Armenia StartUp Cup Sponsors and Organizers, USAID/EDMC, GEP and ATS, understand that to be successful measurement of short and long-term startup success and ensuring sustainability of the Armenia StartUp Cup program to grow jobs and viable businesses is of paramount importance. To this effort USAID/EDMC is committed to support the long-term success of Armenia StartUp Cup. Working with Armenia StartUp Cup Organizers and USAID/EDMC we will measure the impact of startup teams to create viable businesses and grow jobs. We will also monitor the impact of mentors trained to actively coach business model design and accelerated go-to-market strategies. Meaningful entrepreneurial ecosystem growth takes years, not months. StartUp Cup remains committed to being actively involved in the process of advancing Armenia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, including ongoing research and future Extreme Build-A-Business events.

Thank you to USAID/EDMC, GEP, and ATS for sponsoring the StartUp Cup mentoring team’s visit and for supporting the launch of Armenia StartUp Cup business model competition.

Thank you to the amazing Armenia StartUp Cup founding team of Hayk Asriyants and Mariam Movsisyan for their efforts to mobilize and orchestrate such an amazing collection of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial champions.

Thank you to the American University of Armenia for their commitment to supporting the growth of entrepreneurship in Armenia and for hosting the Armenia StartUp Cup events.

Thank you to the great entrepreneurs of Armenia. You inspire us! You are the reason we work so hard to support the growth of entrepreneurialism around the globe. We look forward to our next Armenia Extreme Build-A-Business Tour.

Thank you to Shelly Porges, Sadie Okoko, and Brenda Rios at the U.S. State Department for your confidence in our ability to put a dent in Armenia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

And last but certainly not least, thank you to the StartUp Cup mentoring team Kristen Bergman and Sean Griffin.