Information technologies sector has become an exclusive example of economic wonder in Armenia. Step by step, “the IT crowd” created their own world with thousands of jobs and salaries way higher the average, so to say, “an economy within economy”.
In “IT yesterday, today and tomorrow series” Itel.am will introduce founders and managers of successful companies, who will share their experience and give advice to newbies.
We talked to co-founder of SoloLearn Yeva Hyusyan for this issue of the series.
SoloLearn is one of the largest platforms in the world for learning programming, which has more than 15 million users in more than 200 countries. In addition to web versions, SoloLearn is also available on Windows Store, Google Play and App Store. The company was founded in 2014. In 2015 Mattermark startup research company recognized SoloLearn among Top-10 startups in Silicon Valley (Bay Area) with up to USD 10 million financing.
IT five years ago and now
Innovative Technologies sector has registered a significant rise in Armenia, especially in the last five years. According to Yeva Hyusyan, the changes are first of all noticeable on the level of conscience.
“Years earlier even “startup” notion did not seem familiar to the majority of people. We did not have so many prominent IT figures, success stories, conferences and so on. There are far more people now involved in this sector, which is encouraging. There are many success stories, recognized people, which promotes the development of the sphere.”
Yeva HyusyanAbout the risk of failure
The co-founder of SoloLearn, a company which has significantly succeeded in three years, perfectly remembers the path that they had to pass to found their own startup. A lot of difficulties awaited them along the way, while “the possibility of failure always hanged over their heads”.
“When you create a startup, you are in an indefinite situation, trying to develop a product, which some people will theoretically like, use and at some point start paying you money for. If you have a fresh, innovative and unique idea, you start to move in a direction, which no one else has ever passed, so the probability of failure is rather high,” Yeva Hyusyan said. Two groups of startups
Yeva Hyusyan divides startups into two conventional groups. According to her, both seem to be doing the same, but they have different goals.
“The first group
includes people who enjoy being in the startup community, creating and failing. They spend their abilities on getting grants from funds and living off those.The second group
is people who have an idea and an objective, and who do everything to achieve it. As a rule, they are the ones to succeed and realize an ambitious project. This group isn’t safe from failure either, but they manage something after many attempts.”The importance of finding a mentor
SoloLearn co-founder believes that mentors can play an important role in both successful and failed startups. When you start a business, you need to find people who will be with you at any moment.
“Not every person is ready to become a mentor and provide selfless assistance. First, you need to pique their interest with an unusual idea and your desire to make change. It’s very important for startups to find mentors who had the same experience and faced the same challenges in different stages of development. This is a very important factor.”
Yeva HyusyanOn sources of funding
As much as we talk about starting from scratch and building startups or businesses without financial investment, there is necessity of funding at some point. According to Yeva Hyusyan, the grant for the World Bank was a great help for them in achieving success.
“We invested everything we could. However, some time later we needed money to solve basic issues and at least pay the salary to several web developers in order to enter the global market and attract foreign investors. Although we had much larger investments later, it was the USD 50k grant that helped us a lot. There are only a few such investors in Armenia. The government doesn’t give grants, unlike Israel that financed promising startups for years.”Suren StepanyanPhotos by Mediamax