12:06 | 25.02.19 | Articles | exclusive 150908

FAST angels network makes the first investment in an Armenian startup

Science and Technology Angels Network (STAN), created at the initiative of Foundation for Armenian Science and Technology (FAST), has signed the first investment contract with an Armenian startup Apaga.

9 business angels participated in the investment.

Apaga is a green platform that enables retailers and customers to turn garbage into money. The platform users can order plastic waste pickup and get coupons in exchange, which they can use at Apaga’s partner retail points.

The startup was co-founded by UWC Dilijan alumni Mikhail Zamskoy and Cedric Solms.

Apaga startup co-founders Apaga startup co-founders
photo © FAST

Zamskoy and Solms told Itel.am they often noticed large piles of garbage while traveling in Armenia in their UWC years.

“We went on frequent trips and at first we thought no one went to these places before us, but then we would notice plastic bottles and bags, and other kinds of garbage. We were very concerned with that problem, so we decided to find a solution and thank Armenia for the great time we had here,” said Mikhail Zamskoy.

Apaga was launched in May 2018. The two co-founders researched the market and found several recycling companies, which had the capacity to recycle more but experienced difficulties with the waste collection.

According to Mikhail, currently Apaga network includes 8 recycling companies that receive waste from Apaga.

The co-founders told they had notable support from FAST, when Apaga was in the first startup cycle of the foundation in September 2018.

Cedric Solms noted that the goal of Apaga is to install the culture of waste recycling in Armenia.

“We are happy to be the first startup to raise funds from FAST investors. The angels want to join our initiative and support up financially, invest their time and experience in Apaga. We are very excited,” he said.

The raised funds will help Apaga add a mobile platform and new functions to their capacities to build a stronger green community. A part of the investment will be allocated to marketing: the startup founders plan to develop the culture of recycling in Armenia and educate people about the topic.

photo © FAST

According to co-chair of the unofficial investors network Ruben Harutyunyan, the angels assess how compliant the startup’s ideas are with those of FAST.

“We also take into account the experience and enthusiasm of the team, and look at how interesting their initiative is. The process takes several stages to complete. First we study the general idea and capacities of the startups, and then we make a detailed examination. Apaga developed in the FAST incubator and went through the entire process to get investment. That takes time,” stressed Harutyunyan.

FAST co-founder Artur Alaverdyan believes that Apaga has an innovative general idea and a unique business model.

“It also solves a serious social issue. Apaga’s model can be monetized and if it’s successful, it can be applicable anywhere,” he said.

FAST Vice President of Acceleration and Incubation David Bequette told Itel.am that the preliminary work with Apaga, which preceded the investment, lasted for around 3 months. Bequette hopes that the process will be cut down to one month for the next investments.

“We want to install in Armenian companies a trend of investment in startups registered and operating in Armenia, which have a product that needs investment and can work in Armenia’s legal framework,” he said.