13:13 30.05.20140
Armenia, Forbes, IT

"Entrepreneurship can come from all places. And just as Skype launched
Estonia into the forefront of technological start-up innovation,
a new company based primarily in Armenia hopes to bring the Caucasus
start-up scene into the global spot-light," Freddie Dawson writes in
an article published by Forbes.

If it succeeds in doing so, it could spell an end to Powerpoint:
nobody's favorite presentation tool. The company - Voiceboard - is
creating a presentation platform that incorporates different voice
recognition platforms and Microsoft's Kinect - the technology used
for body motion control of Xbox games - to give presenters the ability
to control presentations through vocal commands and gestures.

Currently Voiceboard is expanding its Armenian office and just starting
to offer a demo product to customers. It signed up its first customer
in March and hopes to have the first edition out in June.

Initially the product will only have voice control features with
gestures to be added in at a later date.

The company has grown significantly in a short period of time in
order to get to this point. It has grown from four under-employed
engineers brainstorming in a living-room to a company with offices
in Bulgaria and Armenia, as well as a separate entity in the USA.

"We were sitting in my living room with a whiteboard thinking about
getting into IT consultancy and brainstorming," says Nigel Sharp,
co-founder of Lionsharp, the company behind Voiceboard. "We thought:
'It's so annoying to have to get up from sofa and write something and
then the board would get filled up and we'd have to take a picture of
it, wipe it clean and start again. Wouldn't it be great if we could
just control everything from here digitally?'"

Development started and the start-up secured a series of
opportunities. First it won a competition, organized in conjunction
with Microsoft's Armenian Innovation Center - to go work in a business
accelerator in Bulgaria called Eleven. The company then got a chance
to demonstrate its presentation tools at TEDx - a popular series
of lectures on science and technology. The start-up also had some
success at the Microsoft Imagine Cup - an international innovation
competition for technology.

"TEDx is a fantastic platform to get the word out. We did our first
ever presentation there and were getting phone calls from investors
from a week after that," he says. "A month later and we had concrete
offers on the table."

Sharp attributes some of the success the country had to the start-up
scene in Armenia. "I found that young Armenians are ready to do a
bit more to choose their opportunities," says Sharp. "My co-founders
are 20-21 and they're throwing away a job that has a salary to come
found a start-up."

Although Sharp worries about the potential geo-political situation
of Armenia, he remains confident in both his economy and the wider
opportunities available in Armenia.

"But there is huge potential. Collaborative entrepreneurship should
be happening here," he adds. "Guys with good ideas and management
skills should be bringing those into Armenia. There are plenty of
good ideas but they need backing, organization, which is not always
a strong point."

If Voiceboard can revolutionize business presentations in much the
same way Skype changed international online communication, it would
put Armenia on the map and could start a flood of investors searching
for the next big technological solution.

From: A. Papazian