• Berge Ayvazian

Armenian Tech Startups and Venture Capital – Reaching for the Brass Ring

Originally published at The Armenian Mirror Spectator.

​​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 #FurtureIsTech networking evening meetings in Boston and NYC, 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:

AGBU Center, Watertown - January 19

Microsoft Technology Center, NYC - January 24

The program featured a presentation by Ashot Arzumanyan, co-founder of SmartGateVC, an Armenian pre-seed venture capital firm. Ashot presented the history and potential of the Armenian Tech Community as an opportunity to invest in a promising startup. Ashot emphasized the progress made in the Armenian tech economy and VC investments over the past three years. A total of $87M 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.ventures and True Ventures.

There have also been several notable acquisitions of Armenian high tech companies since 2010, including:

  • 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

  • Memoir acquired by Cisco in 2014

  • Sorcio acquired by Help Systems in 2016

  • Scdm acquired by Moody’s in 2017

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

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, 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 Ashot Arzumanyan, formerly of Granatus Ventures, the co-founders of SmartGateVC include Vazgen Hakobjanyan, VP Engineering of Teamable (founding advisor) 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 portfolio companies.

Berge Ayvazian is Senior Analyst and Consultant at Wireless 20/20, and previously served as CEO and co-chairman of the 4G World and Mobile Internet World conference programs. He is the co-founder of Armenian High Tech Council (ArmTech).