11:36 | 21.04.21 | Interviews | exclusive 39802

Hye Combinator: Armenia can create unicorns and we will help it happen

Entrepreneurs from the Armenian Diaspora, Harvard Business School alumni Nick Cabraloff and Chris Abkarians recently have created Hye Combinator – a platform providing free mentorship with the purpose to unify Armenian tech sector leaders and facilitate technological advance in Armenia.

Nick Cabraloff works as an analyst at Whale Rock Capital Management, and Chris Abkarians is a co-founder at fintech company Juno.

Itel.am has talked with Nick Cabraloff to discuss the platform’s vision for Armenia.

How does the new platform unify mentors and entrepreneurs?

The mission of Hye Combinator is to empower Armenia’s tech entrepreneurs. Hye Combinator is a mentorship, coaching, and guidance resource for these individuals. We have brought together a diverse group of highly qualified and accomplished Armenian professionals, or mentors, who will act as a resource to these entrepreneurs.

Our mentors, who are both proven tech founders and tech investors, are dedicating their time, energy, and resources for the common goal of accelerating the technology ecosystem in Armenia.

We want to help entrepreneurs take their company to the next level. Entrepreneurs will be able to get the help they need, whatever that may. The format of the mentoring will be via a Slack workspace. This will be the most effective and efficient way to exchange knowledge, ideas, and more.

There is no reason why there cannot be multiple unicorns coming out of Armenia, and Hye Combinator wants to be instrumental in making that a reality.
How many mentors have already joined the platform and what are the criteria?
Today, we have over 25 mentors on the platform. Our mentors are both tech entrepreneurs and tech investors. They have the experience, know-how, and relationships to help Armenia’s entrepreneurs. In order to join the platform, the entrepreneur should be past the ideation stage, though we are open to allowing those who are earlier on in their journey.
How did you come up with the idea of creating Hye Combinator?

Both Chris and I have been involved in the tech ecosystem in the U.S. for most of our careers, and after meeting in business school, knew that we wanted to somehow help accelerate that ecosystem in Armenia.

We are firm believers that one of the most efficient and effective ways to build the economy in Armenia is to develop a sustainable tech ecosystem - an ecosystem that allows for the fast flow of talent, information, and resources.

We have spoken with tech professionals, entrepreneurs, investors, the government, and others, and came to the conclusion that there is an immense need for basic mentorship, guidance, and advice to our aspiring and current entrepreneurs. We believe that the lack of mentors is one of the obstacles. We then went out to find mentors that shared our vision and would be invaluable assets to these entrepreneurs. This is how Hye Combinator was started.
By your estimate, what are the 1-year milestones for Hye Combinator?

In a year’s time, we hope that we have at least 20 tech founders on our platform utilizing the resources we have to offer. The goal is to create this living ecosystem that evolves into whatever is most valuable to our entrepreneurs.

What is your vision development of the Armenian tech ecosystem?

We are true believers that the tech ecosystem in Armenia can become one of the most dominant in the world. Not only it can, but it needs to. This is what we can offer the rest of the world. Our raw intellect, work ethic, cost advantages, and focus will get us there. Helping these entrepreneurs take their companies to the next level will increase foreign investment, create jobs, create wealth, and so forth. It is a flywheel that can change the trajectory of our country.

Narine Daneghyan talked with Nick Cabraloff