Emerging Europe start-ups to get California launch pad courtesy of new SmartGateVC project

Start-ups from emerging Europe are set to be given the opportunity to leverage additional growth and expansion opportunities in the US thanks to a new project from SmartGateVC, a Silicon Valley pre-seed venture capital fund backed by Tim Draper and a network of entrepreneurs and professionals from the US, Europe, and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Called Hero House, a technology hub initiated in Armenia with the help of the Support to SME Development in Armenia (EU-SMEDA) programme within the European Union’s EU4Business initiative, the new venture, based in Glendale, California, will open up to start-ups from Eastern European this autumn. The initiative has a huge strategic importance for technology start-ups from Eastern Europe as it will open up growth and expansion opportunities for them while also leveraging the business development talent and opportunities in the LA area.

Hye Rise Investments – a group of seasoned entrepreneurs and executives that invest in companies with strong vision, grit and resilience – and Armenian Engineers and Scientists of America (AESA) have joined SmartGateVC as strategic partners in the initiative, which will begin its operations with Gateway to LA (G2LA) – a three-month acceleration programme targeting overseas start-ups, mainly from Eastern Europe, and serving as a gateway for them to expand operations to Southern California and the wider US market while leveraging the business development talent and opportunities in the LA area.

Hero House Glendale will also be supported by local leading tech companies ServiceTitan and DISQO; Silicon Valley-based Armenian organizations HyeTech and AGBU Silicon Valley Chapter; as well as local leading universities USC, UCLA and Caltech.

“We see that many tech companies and a lot of good talent are moving out of the San Francisco Bay Area, and Los Angeles is already one of the top destinations,” says Hambardzum Kaghketsyan, partner at SmartGateVC. “Few people know that Glendale is home to Disney and Dreamworks, while Warner Bros, Caltech and many other amazing organisations and companies are within a 15 minute drive from here. Although Hero House Glendale begins with a start-up programme for international founders, it’s a complex and multi-layered project with many partners and stakeholders involved. Our vision is to become one of top tech hubs in Los Angeles during the next three-five years.”

SmartGateVC has established perk partnerships with more than 20 world-renowned leading tech companies to provide various benefits for its portfolio and the Hero House community. The total value of the perks exceeds 500,000 US dollars per company.


“Setting up a Hero House in Glendale is a strategic milestone for SmartGateVC that will allow our current and future portfolio companies to efficiently leverage the talent and business opportunities of both North American and European continents. We can’t wait to see the cross-border convergence of technology, capital and entrepreneurship into a powerful pipeline of disruptive companies,” said Ashot Arzumanyan, partner at SmartGateVC.

The founders of SmartGateVC established the first Hero House in Armenia in 2017 with the support of the EU-SMEDA project with the aim to further develop tech entrepreneurship in the Armenian ecosystem.

SmartGateVC’s key focus areas are Artificial Intelligence (AI), security, Internet of Things (IoT) and emerging computational biotech, quantum computing and blockchain across California, Massachusetts, NYC, Armenia, and wider Eastern Europe. The fund invests on the edge of technology innovation where science and entrepreneurship join to disrupt the status quo.

The Armenian Engineers and Scientists of America is a non-partisan, non-sectarian, and non-profit organisation with a mission to enable and empower the Armenian STEM community worldwide to reach its fullest potential and facilitate global progress through STEM education, collaboration and humanitarian initiatives. AESA has established various programmes for the local community and Armenia, including an annual Science Olympiad aimed to attract youth to careers in science and technology, a Science and Tech Expo and STEM Conference, scholarships for graduate and undergraduate students, free monthly lectures, and networking and mentorship opportunities.

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