Ayb School: From dream to reality
It was a golden dream. I thought it would be a miracle if we managed to do it. We didn’t even realize the challenges we’d encounter. Underestimating the project’s difficulty isn’t a rare thing, and it’s a good one too. If people always knew what awaits them, they just wouldn’t begin any journey.
The miracle component of Ayb School was the fact that we all managed to gather and stay together. That’s the main reason we succeeded. We would’ve achieved nothing if we didn’t find the whole team (more than 200 people are involved now).
Projects living on their own
In all the projects I founded, my main objective was to bring up the “child” until the moment they begin attending school independently, then get admitted into university, work and start a family after. For me as a parent that is the major happiness.
I know people, dedicated parents, who stay in the company for a long time. That has certain advantages, but my style if different. My goal is to get the child to independence as soon as possible.
Armenia as a center of attraction
Armenia should become the center of attraction for other people. Those talks that children will grow up, leave to get education and never come back… Yes, they will leave, get an incredible amount of experience, knowledge and ideas. Some of them will return, some will “return but on the distance”, others will open companies here or become teachers. That is all good. The important thing is that people acquire international experience.
How can we compensate for those who leave the country? We should make Armenia a center of attraction instead of trying to keep people here at any cost.
Armenia has a unique advantage – family values and roots, much stronger than in other cultures. So, we don’t need to worry. We need to make people from other countries – China, India, Iran, Russia, Europe, and America – come to Armenia. 80 % of the people who created large companies in America’s Silicon Valley are immigrants or children of immigrants. We should create a Silicon Valley of our own in Armenia, and conditions where our education centers become attractive to people of other nationalities. Some people will stay, others will leave with great ties and friends and will continue doing business with Armenia. That is the key to drastic improvement of the quality of any product in Armenia.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is going to penetrate all aspects of life, the services, science, and technology. Andrew Ng, Google Brain founder, calls AI “the new electricity”. Artificial intelligence is changing industries one by one, the same as electricity changed all industries once upon a time. Many companies understand they have to reinvent themselves if they want to survive. We need AI startups, and we need specialists. People should learn it, and then life will show which way to go.
What should startups do?
Startups should establish ties with accelerators not only in Silicon Valley, but also in Spain, Finland, France, Germany. They need to communicate a lot instead of sitting at home. Sooner or later, that will bring money. Money always finds startups. If the ground has oil, sooner or later, oil companies will come. The oil companies are investors in this case, and the oil is the brains. If there are brains, ideas and teams, sooner or later, investors will come. They aren’t many, and they all know each other.
Armenia has a very small domestic market, so the projects should be done with an international direction. That situation reminds the one in Israel. The majority of startups there were aimed at the global market from the beginning, as the domestic market was small. Nevertheless, it’s definitely impossible to make an international project if you aren’t in the same place with your client, the place where your product will be consumed. It’s wrong to try to provide international service, if you don’t live in America.
Here’s my advice: don’t just come for five days to a conference (although, it’s still better than nothing). You need to live at a friends’ place in Silicon Valley for at least two months. That experience will do as much for you as two years in acceleration program.
It’s all up to you. Think, fear nothing, stay with friends in America, get back and make a project, join 500 Startups, then drop out and finish your product, make a couple of mistakes, but keep raising the bar, and in the end, you’ll have an interesting project. Most likely, it will look like this: a team of key developers works in Armenia, while a couple of other teammates make frequent visits to America and Europe. Then the startup grows, Google or Facebook buys it, then Google or Facebook opens an office in Armenia, and things get going.
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