12:16 | 21.11.16 | Interviews | exclusive 29463

Christian Schellenberger: “Armenian startups need to think long-term”

The 4th Business Innovation Forum “Armenia 20.18 – 2018. Armenia among 20 most innovative countries by 2018” took place on November 18-19 in Dilijan.

The forum was attended by more than 150 representatives from technology, education and business sectors, Armenian government and international organizations, as well as speakers from 6 countries.

Managing Director of German IT Consulting BerlinerStrategen Christian Schellenberger gave some pieces of advice to Armenian startups in the interview to Itel.am.

Channel local values into the world

First you need to find the sphere where you can become global. At the same time, it is not necessary at all for every startup to go global. I’ll bring up the example of the Red Sea market, where you simply can’t develop and be competent among strong companies without large global investments.

Christian Schellenberger Christian Schellenberger
photo © UITE

If I founded a startup here, I would focus on Armenia’s main values, the values the world might not know about. I would try to scale these values and channel them into the world. This is better than taking and adapting models from USA, Europe or Asia.

It is not about selling everything right now

Before looking for other markets I would ask myself, what are my chances on the local market? I would forget about famous and large tech ecosystems such as San Francisco, Tel Aviv and Stockholm, as it will be much harder working there than staying in Armenia and developing local market. We need to understand that each ecosystem is special and has a different structure. Local ecosystem has confidence and is free from language barrier and similar obstacles. These are the qualities that, for instance, cannot be corrected in one week, if you are not on the local market.

Entrepreneurship is not short-term thinking only; it requires Armenia to have companies that will think not just about the next two years, but in a scope of 10-20 years, in order to create jobs in future. It is not about selling everything right now, is it?

Start experimenting on local market

Before founding a startup you need to ask yourself if you have enough passion to do it, if you are strong enough to win this competition, because business is not always smooth.

Ask yourself, “Am I ready to risk my money and, for example, the time I spend with friends?” You will work a lot, spend lots of money and time, and time is money too, and it’s highly possible that you will get nothing out of it in the end.

If you think you are ready to take that risk, I recommend founding a company, but don’t invest all your money – start experimenting on local market instead. It doesn’t have to be a complex product. It can be something very simple. They often tell the story of an American boy who realized that he wanted to sell ice-cream at age 13, and started doing it. Now he is 20, and the ice-cream company has multi-billion profits. Do you see? It was just ice-cream, a simple product, not something complex like artificial intelligence.

Luck that depends on circumstances

You don’t have to think you’ll be the next Elon Musk. Such success is comprised of many circumstances – what contacts and relations you have, who supports you in business. You meet more and more people, and innovative people come and say they are interested in investing in your product. This whole process is like mountain climbing – you climb and look up to the top. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t reach it. Small steps are a reason for happiness too.

Narine Daneghyan talked to Christian Schellenberger