Catching up with Alisa Chalakhyan


Alisa Chalakhyan, BA in Business ‘19

Alisa Chalakhyan graduated from the American University of Armenia (AUA) in 2019 with a BA degree in Business and a minor in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. She notes that the minor played a significant role in shifting her mindset and worldview.

As a student at AUA, Alisa was actively involved in student clubs and social activities. She was the vice president of the Finance Club and during her junior year, she worked at Business Armenia to promote investment opportunities. Simultaneously, she applied to the Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center (EPIC) with her first startup idea, SHE(FF). SHE(FF) was an online community supporting women in Yerevan to build their own micro-business from the comforts of their homes. After two years, the startup shut down due to lower engagement after shifting into a nonprofit organization.

Upon graduating from AUA, Alisa worked as a consultant for a number of startups. She became the head of operations at and converted the company from an agency to a startup. At the same time, she applied and began her studies at Columbia University for an MS in Enterprise Risk Management. After working with startups for five years, she decided to take a new turn in her career and began working as a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley, which allowed her to experience the startup ecosystem from a different perspective. She notes that her experiences at AUA and EPIC helped her tremendously in this role. Currently, she is back in Armenia working with EPIC as an advisor and mentor.

How did AUA help you achieve success? 

When I started my education at AUA, I was an insecure teenager. I thought that AUA was going to be my biggest achievement in life. I also expected to have a very simple nine-to-five job. However, AUA triggered in me a strong urge for personal development. I began aiming for more and realized that I am capable of more than I thought.

AUA taught me to look at the bigger picture and also allowed me to think independently. High schools give us specific tasks expecting specific results. There are hardly any students who try to exceed those expectations. At AUA, it is your job to think outside the box and take initiative. This, eventually, helped me get admitted to Columbia University. Although I never thought I would be accepted to an Ivy League school, AUA taught me to never give up.

What advice would you give to AUA students?

I always tell them to seize the opportunities AUA provides. The University has a wealth of resources that students don’t always utilize. They don’t have the experience to understand how necessary it is to do so, because at the age of seventeen they don’t know how to take initiative. The majority of them attend classes and go home. But that is not the real university experience. While I don’t have a solution for this, I believe the University will implement a strategy to increase student engagement in all the amazing projects and activities the University offers. I have to admit, when I was a teaching assistant for the Introduction to Innovation and Entrepreneurship course at AUA, I already noticed the difference between my academic peers and the new generation at AUA. They are becoming increasingly driven and goal-oriented.

What are your goals for the next five years?

I want to continue working with startups. It is my biggest passion. I also intend to focus on my academic career. Hopefully, I will complete a PhD in a relevant field. One of my goals is to return to AUA as a professor and bring the startup culture from Silicon Valley to Armenia. I have barely been back in Armenia for only six months, but being here now, I already notice the blossoming of the startup ecosystem here. I want to contribute to that growth and help by consulting startups.