10:39 | 28.09.17 | Interviews | exclusive 100861

Seedstars: Armenia can become the region’s AI capital

On September 23, Armenia hosted Seedstars Yerevan 2017. The winner startup Chessify will represent Armenia in the Seedstars World in Switzerland.

Itel.am talked with Seedstars Associate for CEE region Daria Golikova, who shared her impressions from the competition.

- Chessify won the Seedstars Yerevan 2017. What were the jury’s criteria for the winner?

- The criteria we use in Seedstars are actually all the same. Basically, we try to find startups that solve some big pains in the market, have traction and costumers.

There are a lot of talented developers in AI and machine learning in Armenia. Also, chess is a very Armenian thing. Chessify developed a product that is based on a really cool machine learning engine. When we were thinking who we see as the best to represent Armenia in Switzerland, the majority of juries said they saw Chessify also because of this very deep tech solution they have.

Narine Daneghyan and Daria Golikova Narine Daneghyan and Daria Golikova
photo © Mediamax

The runner-up Inapptics is also a good startup with AI.

Lots of European countries are leaders in chess and Chessify will have a good chance to make good connections, find good clients, influencers and investors in Switzerland.

 - Could we say that AI became the main trend in Seedstars World in recent years?

- A few years ago we changed our focus to more social impact focus, such as fintech, edutech, healthtech and agritech. AI can be used in each sphere.

AI is very trendy nowadays, and the bad side of this is that everybody is using AI as a buzzword everywhere, describing everything. You can’t understand what AI is there for in the given product without a tech background.

That’s why we pitch local juries in each country every time, so they know the background of the teams. In Armenia, the majority voted for Chessify and named it a very sophisticated AI/machine learning engine, which can revolutionize tech community.

- What would be your recommendations for Chessify on how to best represent Armenia in Seedstars World?

- Chessify will attend the region summit in December. It’s like the big rehearsal before the global contest. They will pitch for a large audience of 600 people during the regional contest.

My first recommendation is to create a fascinating story. It’s a basic thing - if you want to sell a product, create a story about it. That especially concerns Armenian startups with cool tech product. I would advise guys to prepare some cool stories and craft their pitch based on some human side story.

The second recommendation is for the regional and global summits: research and do your homework; find out beforehand who will be the startups, mentors, guests. Check out how you can benefit from meeting them. This is basic networking stuff. Network all the time, don’t stand in the corner.

There’s been a big improvement in quality of the startups in recent years. Still, there is a room for improvement regarding the pitches and sales.

Armenian startups are definitely improving year by year. And I was glad to see this year that in a small market like Armenia, where everybody knows everyone, there were startups that presented for the first time. Armenia has all the chances to become the AI capital of the region.

Narine Daneghyan talked to Daria Golikova