Ararat Robotics & StartaVC

On June 24th, 2021, Ararat Robotics presented at Batch 11 Demo Day at Starta Ventures. Among the attendees were staff, guests, industry experts, judges, mentors, and investors. We did not plan our participation, nor did we have any materialistic motivations. Instead, it was a spontaneous idea of the program director, Gabriel Arant, to grant an opportunity for a newly conceived idea to develop into something powerful. 

It all started with our participation in the 2021 spring Starta Launchpad program, formerly known as the Starta Preaccelerator. At the time, our team was developing a business model and researching possible entry points into the space robotics industry. Going through a tailored guidance system for startup development, Starta Launchpad, was very fitting. Not only did we gain a comprehensive understanding of what it would take to go from idea to business, but we were doing it first hand. Along the process, we ran into significant roadblocks many times, some of which are not possible for us to overcome to this day. Slowly we realized that we needed an explicit model of a successful early-stage startup. So we began looking at how current thriving startups positioned themselves. As part of that initiative, Georgiy Aleksanyan scored an opportunity as an associate at Starta VC in May 2021. 

As an associate at Starta VC, Georgiy developed strong ties with founders from batch 11 of the Starta Accelerator program and the staff while helping them tailor their products to the US market. As Demo Day was nearing, Gabriel Arant asked if the team at Ararat Robotics wished to participate in the demo day as a bonus for the audience. Without a second thought, we decided to take part. We began by attending a series of startup pitch contests leading up to the Demo Day to understand what separated the excellent pitches from those that generated desired outcomes, AKA capital in seed funding, among other things. After witnessing more than half a dozen mature startups present their visions to a panel of judges, the team at Ararat Robotics began drafting and detailing everything we had learned, hoped to attain, and strategized into a single pitch deck.

This opportunity marked the beginning of our team's commitment to the agile ideology. For two weeks leading up to the June 17th pitch contest, the last one before demo day, we had our first agile scrum as the team at Starta VC wanted us to have at least a single practice run before the big day. Within that short time frame, we had completed an immense amount of work, everything from the general idea to financial models and predictions to justify our aims. We had narrowed down precisely what market share we'd be able to take on, why customers would be interested in Ararat Robotics, and drafted an action plan to get to our first customer.

Before we knew it, it was June 17th. We spat out two weeks and countless hours of work within a span of just 3 minutes and exposed our most cherished idea to the public eye for the first time. The presentation was over, and the sea of questions fell upon us like the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. By the end of our first pitch, it was clear that the audience received it well... for the most part. 

While we did receive a ton of positive feedback on the presentation and how well prepared we were, it was clear that there was a need for fundamental changes to our positioning and business model. (Special thanks to Charles McCormick,  for his contribution as a judge panelist with a ton of amazing feedback.) There was no turning back, however. It was no longer business as usual as things weren't just smooth sailing. Most importantly, we had to modify the slide deck to fit at the very least a very high standard set by other founders. We had to put clear directions on what we were pitching, whom we were pitching to, what problem we were attempting to solve, and what we needed to get it done. In addition, we had to establish a destination for who was soon to become our supporters. That meant at least a website and a social media presence. 

Thus by the end of the second major scrum in our history, we had a social media presence, a website, and an improved slide deck/presentation that put market data ahead of our ambition to take on the world in a matter of years. While the timeline to attain our aim increased, it became more realistic. All of this could not have happened without Costa Rhoda, the founder of Loyal Me. He was instrumental in ensuring we knew how to present ourselves to a broader audience, especially investors. Special thanks to Gabriel Arant, Anastasia Lyukova, Max Sokolov, Dwayne "The Crack" Ocasio, Rob Napoli, Lisa Patti, and the entire team at Starta VC, who helped us discover our "chi" and the continual push for the development of Ararat Robotics.

Finally, after three strenuous weeks of preparation, development, research, and almost 20 other startups, it was our call to action: a vast online audience (couple hundred people) and an in-person crowd of about 60. Overall the pitch was a huge success. According to the judges, "we brought a crowd full of investors back to their childhood dreams and showed that taming space is possible." To clarify, we did not raise any capital. Still, we received an overwhelming number of supporters, many of whom are with us today. We received a ton of critical feedback and developed connections with people who are now mentors. 

For now, we continue growing. While we attain our next significant milestone, a white paper justifying space mining, we are simultaneously creating a culture. We believe that the future is in our hands and invite you to join us. The cosmos is a vast playground, and much work is to be done to guarantee the survival of the human species. While we will get there in time, we will get there faster with you by our side. You can follow what we do on all our socials and contribute directly by becoming a part of our team. You can learn more on our website here. Remember, the future is in your hands, and we need you.


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