11:37 | 26.01.18 | Interviews | exclusive 102616

Armen Martirosyan: Politics should stay away from tech

In 2011 Armen Martirosyan founded BluIP, wholesale provider of voice technologies in cloud systems. At the end of 2016 this U.S.-based company established an office in Armenia.

With Armen Martirosyan’s help we tried to underline challenges and prospects of Armenian tech.

You moved to the United States back in 1987 and worked for various companies there. How have you managed to restore your connection with Armenia?

In 2016 HIVE brought a group of Armenian startups to U.S. My friend Al Eisaian proposed me to attend the pitching and give them some advice. I spent about a week with the group, and we also visited University of California in Berkeley. It helped me understand that Armenia has an immense level of talent, which needs support to be developed.

Your company has an office in Armenia for over a year now. How did you realize this idea?

We have about 70 employees in U.S., providing services for around 20 mayor partners, including Marriott, Hilton, Netflix and other popular brands.

photo © BluIP

I have visited Armenia for almost once a month since January of 2016, meeting with a number of very talented people here.

In December of 2016 we opened an office in Armenia, which develops a product for U.S.-based company. We have about 30 employees at the office now. We also have a number of vacancies, so we are looking for great professionals.  

What would be your perfect formula for promoting Armenian tech globally?  

Years ago I opened a company like BluIP in India. I would say that in terms of IT development the situation in India back in 2002 was similar to the one we have now in Armenia.  

The best formula for any startup is realizing that they don’t know everything, while Armenian mentality tells them that they actually do.  

You need to be open to new ideas and understand that you should learn something new every single day. India was able to register a significant rise, as they never said “no”. Nevertheless, this also resulted in stagnation over the past three years. This happened due to the fact that technologies were developing very rapidly while the state wasn’t able to keep up. So instead they developed automation of business partners and outsourcing.

At the same time, Armenia has a great potential for growth, since it has got talent. We can criticize, we can say “no” and we can discuss.

Armenia has technologies, yet it can’t sell them. Do you agree with this view?

Yes, I do. Armenian startups lack experimentation in business development and marketing. This is a huge gap in the field.

Finding partners is yet another challenge. You need to find someone who has business thinking and can help engineers at the same time.  

Is it the reason so many Armenian startups have marketing teams in USA?

Yes, it is. But the situation will change for the better if startups continue developing in Armenia and bringing partners to the country. That is why I have been supporting Armenian startups for two years already.

Founding a startup is difficult. You give everything and still you don’t know if it will be a success.

There are many devoted individuals in Armenia, especially among the youth. They are ready to do everything possible to succeed. It is a passion, a drive. I mentor over ten startups and we often consider these companies for investment.

I can assure you that some Armenian startups solve problems American companies have not even thought about.

Donald Trump has been the U.S. President for a year now. How has he influenced America’s IT sector in this period?

I think Trump has had zero influence on the sector. America’s IT is too smart to let the authorities influence it.

I could say the same about Armenia. It is rare that a politician would play an active role in IT sector. If you cannot control something, why waste efforts trying?

The further politics stays away from IT, the more successful the sector will be. The only thing that politics can do is to make it easier for startups to found a business.

What were the main mistakes you made in the first years of running your company?

Oh, I made a lot of mistakes. First, as soon as you start feeling comfortable in your position, it becomes vulnerable. The reason is that you no longer pay attention to every detail. You should always set challenges for yourself. We succeeded in the American market because we were doing everything differently. We stood out.

There is another thing you must have – passion, excitement. Moscow wasn’t built in a day. One of Lyft founders spent three years sleeping on the couch and living off fast food. To be successful one day, you need to work for years.

Armenia is a country of big opportunities, especially now. Focus on your own startup and don’t let others tell you what will work and what will not. If you really believe in your vision and the future of your product, go and do your thing and stay open to different opinions.

Armenians are thinkers, creators of fantastic products. If that translates to IT too, we will have big influence on the sector globally in a short period of time.

Narine Daneghyan talked to Armen Martirosyan


Books recommended by BluIP founder

The Hard Thing About Hard Things - Ben Horowitz
The Power of Habit - Charles Duhigg