I wasn't sure what to expect, entering the Sevan Startup Summit this year. I had never heard of it, and I was told to pack a bag, bring my camera, and come along. Occurring on the side of Lake Sevan, it was a cooler affair than the city. There was white sand paving the paths between short fir-like trees. The Summit had over a thousand participants of all kinds. Namely, however, where the Startupers. Ambitious creators gathered to the Summit to network and learn from their peers and mentors. The startups, upon entry, were placed into "Squads" that they would live and learn with over the week. Numerous tents sat in glens amongst the trees, firepits crouching in their centers.
The Summit had a fun tradition of "campfire talks" where a local squad would gather with a mentor around a fire and share stories and seek advice regarding business ventures. You were free to mingle and move between fires, and there where many different talks occurring at the same time so you had to choose your topics wisely. People flew in from all over the world to listen and give talks, Startupers and mentors alike. In addition to the talks there where other activities to build teams, archery, watersports, "beachside" volleyball, helicopter rides, and fresh lavash being made on site.
Lavash is a delicious traditional Armenian unleavened bread that is made by slapping the dough on a fired stone or chute with coals at the bottom. I was attending the Summit as someone on the media side of things, so I spent my time wandering between talks, meeting people, taking videos and photos, and mingling with the other participants while eating tons of fresh Lavash.
I was amazed at the professionalism shown, and while there were some shortcomings; the event was handled well considering the mass of participants compared to years past. Overall, I greatly enjoyed my time at Sevan Startup Summit 2019, and would gladly go again. I feel like I learned, met more people, and had a far more enjoyable time than I was expecting to have, and feel as though I have been bettered as a person for having gone.
Text by Owen May