Catalyst, Foundations and Fund for Superheroes

Hambardzum Kaghketsyan
Jul 16, 2017
3 min read

Catalyst. It started 33 months ago when I heard about Draper University of Superheroes for the first time. There was a short video about the University, and it magically resonated with me. I remember clearly Tim’s saying to the students: “They’re gonna read a book a day”. This video convinced me to make a decision that changed my life and I found myself among the students of the Spring 2015 Hero Training Program.

A lot has been changed since then - a lot has come and a lot has gone. I learned how to make fast iterations and act more decisively. Bill Draper’s saying that “life is too short to work with people that you don’t like” helped me to make painful but right decisions and find and stick to the career path that I believe in.

During my studies, I was lucky to be among the few students to receive a gift from Tim. It was a book with strange title — “So, you want to be a Hero”. It said that there is always a starting event that sets a Hero on his journey. It’s called a Catalyst. Then, there is second stage called Personal Growth, when transformation from human to Hero starts to take place. It’s a great book with description of the stages and a lot of wise and practical on-the-go advice. By a strange coincidence, with my partners from smartgate.vc (first Armenian seed fund, that we call a fund for superheroes), we initiated “Catalyst” Foundation, a vehicle for contribution to the development of the Armenian innovation ecosystem, which affects the quality of SmartGate’s pipeline. Looking at the development of Armenia’s national ecosystem from the fund’s perspective makes us stay focused and move fast. We believe that the “Catalyst” Foundation will serve as a launchpad for bold and game changing initiatives.

Foundations. Before gaining and developing Super Powers, Heroes must also have built solid foundations. According to the book, the foundations are energy, values and character. It’s something that we appreciate most of all in our startup founders and help them develop further. As a fund, we took two statements from Draper University’s superhero oath into our core values:

  • “Do everything in our power to pursue fairness, openness, health, and fun, mostly fun”, which took us into national ecosystem development in a unique way, and  
  • “Our brand, network and reputation are paramount”, which we keep at all times within the bounds of morality and ethics.

Fund for Superheroes. This is what I got from Draper University as a student and will keep with me as an alum. In a world of capitalists, where return on investment is the champion of international and national real development agendas, — maybe we need more funds for superheroes?

Written by Hambardzum Kaghketsyan, DU Spring 2015 alum and founding partner at SmartGateVC, seed fund focused on AI, Cybersecurity and IoT. Previously, Hambardzum worked for the government and the World Bank Group.

About Armenia: Armenia was the Silicon Valley of the Soviet Union with 30% of Soviet military electronics produced in this tiny country. The Soviet nuclear bomb also was created here according to the CIA. It’s a promising land with very strong mathematical and chess schools, which nowadays has allowed Armenians seriously to reach the top in areas such as AI and Cybersecurity. There are a few startups in the Valley that have originated from or have a significant presence in Armenia, that have raised funds from VC’s such as DFJ and Sequoia.