16:04 | 20.03.15 | Interviews | exclusive 4858

Samer Azar: Lebanese Hackathon to reveal the Armenian potential

Yerevan will host the AltCity UltraLight Startup Hackathon, a contest of games and mobile apps, on March 27-29.

It is meant for those who want to start their own business, build an app or game and be inspired by amazing trainers and successful entrepreneurs.

Hackathon is organized by Lebanese AltCity which is one of the major startup centers in Beirut. It’s going to expand its operation in Armenia as well.

Itel.am  talked to Co-founder and Financial Director of AltCity Samer Azar on the upcoming event.

-Why did you choose Armenia for this event and what are your impressions on Armenian IT/business environment?

- We believe there is a dormant potential in Armenia’s youth. A potential that is yet to be unlocked that will reshape the Armenian economic landscape.

The Armenian IT scene is about to witness a big boom of startups that will redefine the current landscape and will position Armenia as a regional hub. The relationship between Lebanon and Armenia has always been strong, given the Diaspora of Lebanese Armenians. We chose to hold an event in Armenia to enhance the current existing linkages and develop new ones within the Armenian community.

-What to expect during UltraLight Hackathon Yerevan?

-The Ultralight Hackathon event will be taking place at the Tumo Center for Creative Technologies, in Yerevan on March 29th, 2015. On March 27-28, the AltCity team will hold ideation sessions with interested participants to get their creative brains stirring with ideas.

During the 8 hour Hackathon, the local startups will present their games and apps, will hold public startup pitching and judging sessions. They will be given support on how to develop apps and games.

We have prepared excellent prizes for the winners including a cash award.

We have brought together entrepreneurial ecosystem experts from Lebanon and Armenia, as well as successful entrepreneurs who have a track record of producing apps and games.

-Lebanon and Armenia have much in common particularly in terms of population. To what extent are the countries similar in terms of IT development?

-Yes, Armenia and Lebanon have much in common and additional potential. Both are small countries with comparably young and little population. Our visit to Armenia and surveys showed that Armenian young people have powerful technical skills - coding skills- and simultaneously are less savvy in terms of branding, marketing and business modeling.

In Lebanon, vice versa, the excess of capital is invested in the knowledge-based startups. We see opportunities in terms of strengthening of ties, exchange of knowledge, joint ventures and accessibility of capital.

- What are the benefits of the Hackathon?

-Hackathons have taken place all over the world and are a great icebreaking initiative to connect people interested in the startup scene and push them to their ultimate creativity in a limited amount of time. AltCity has held many startup events including hackathons in Beirut, Egypt, Italy and other countries over the last few years.

Every time we hold a hackathon we are blown away by what a bunch of inspired young people can achieve in such short period! That’s why we love hackathons: they give you a preview of the amount of talent and creativity that hides within every one of us. At AltCity, we specialize in unlocking this talent to create jobs, opportunities and achieve one’s potential.

Narine Daneghyan talked to Samer Azar