11:35 | 11.12.17 | Articles | exclusive 83927

Cristobal Alonso: Armenian startups should consider the EU market

Startup Wise Guys accelerator (Estonia) CEO Cristobal Alonso visited Yerevan last week to meet with Armenian startups and learn more the local IT ecosystem.

Itel.am sat down with Alonso, who summed up the details of his visit and Armenian IT.

Deep tech is especially developed in Armenia

“Basically we knew about Armenia’s IT sector quite a bit, because we had Inapptics in our portfolio. We wanted to have a better understanding of the market, that’s why my colleagues Wallace and Egita came here in summer.

I have also been talking to some players over the phone and doing research on my own.

We knew Armenia has a very vibrant tech community, more of deep tech – artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, machine learning.

At the same time, Armenia still obviously has the typical problems of a small CIS country: underdeveloped investment community, difficulties with going international, probably lack of knowledge of investment and selling. This is the kind of environment where Startup Wise Guys know how to add value.”

Armenian startups should consider the EU market

“The next step for the most Armenian companies is to look at the EU market. It’s close to home, easier to raise money. Look at the EU market and only then decide if the US is really the next step.”

Armenian startups are “too much in love with their product”

“I heard around 20 pitches in one day in Yerevan. I think the key point is to understand the market valuation. The key issue that we see in most startups is that they are too product-focused and too much in love with their own product before understanding if the market loves it and secondly, how they want to sell the product.”

“I would like to see more B2C products”

“I was surprised the Armenian startups were not too focused on money, but wanted to grow their business.  I was surprised that almost everything was B2B-focused (business-to-business). I was thinking I would see more B2C (business-to-consumer) products.

Out of the twenty teams I met, two or three impressed me the most. They had real product and some sales. A couple of companies already had sales in their early stage, which is good. If I would put my recruiting hat on, I think there were four solid candidates for top 25 of SWG program. As companies like Inapptics become role models, I believe this number will grow.”

Narine Daneghyan talked to Cristobal Alonso

Startup Wise Guys is already accepting applications for the next batch. The deadline is February 26.