ALEA Seminar Series

ALEA (AESA Leadership and Entrepreneurship Academy) presents its first Entrepreneurship seminar, “How To Start Your Own Business” on December 7th at 9:30 am, hosted by New York Life.

The following organizations are collaborating with AESA to organize this event: ABA (Armenian Bar Association), ANCA-PN, APS (Armenian Professional Society), AASCPA (Armenian American Society of CPAs), AGBU YP, AAMS (Armenian American Medical Society), All-ASA and Nerouj. It is our collective mission to bring the community together and empower our future leaders and equip them with entrepreneurial skills and knowledge.

The various speakers, who are all experts in their respective fields, will be presenting comprehensive introductions to topics ranging from the legal aspects of starting your own business, to tax implications and marketing strategies. You will take away the crucial elements you need to start your own business!


George Bandarian 

Topic: Idea Development

ValueScaler / Founder & Managing Director

George is an angel investor, startup founder coach, and the founder and managing director at ValueScaler, a startup accelerator with virtual cohorts (and plans for a physical office in Glendale in the near future).  George helps promising founders of venture-backed startups land their first dozens of customers, gain traction and prove product/market fit, so they can raise money, and scale their impact.  He also speaks and teaches at startup events, incubators, accelerators and podcasts.

Prior, George was the President & CEO of AMI for over 15 years.  He grew revenues and value over 10X, turning the company into a leading provider of business process automation, with notable clients such as SpaceX, Walt Disney Company, NBC Universal, Northrop Grumman, USC, County of Los Angeles and many others. By selling workflow automation over the course of 15+ years, George gained B2B vertical and horizontal market experience across many industries and sizes including Enterprise, SMB, Government, Education and Military.  In February 2018 he negotiated a multi-million-dollar exit selling to a strategic buyer.

George graduated from USC’s Marshall School of Business, Greif Center for Entrepreneurship. In his free time, George can be found in deep meditation, practicing yoga, playing or watching sports, or learning about the latest in exponential technologies, especially A.I. and Robotics.

Narek Zohrabyan

Topic: Intellectual Property

Phil IP Law Group / Founder & Principal IP Attorney

Narek is the founder and principal IP attorney for Phil IP Law Group.  He manages the firm’s transactional and litigation cases.  The firm provides services such as: patent/trademark/copyright procurement and litigation, trade secret law counseling and litigation, as well as related business counseling and litigation.

Previous to working at the firm, Narek was a Patent Examiner with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for over three years.  The training and the insight that Narek received, while working at the USPTO, has proved to be invaluable to his practice.  Having first-hand knowledge of how a patent examiner thinks and how the various policies and rules of the USPTO affects an inventor’s ability to obtain a patent is a benefit that is passed down to the firm’s clients.  After leaving the USPTO, Narek decided to switch gears and focus on the firm on a full-time basis.

Narek began his professional career while working as a Test Engineer for Boeing Satellite Development Center by working on NAVY communication satellites.  His areas of expertise are in digital image processing (pattern recognition, classification, artificial intelligence(AI)/machine learning(ML)), digital signal processing, control systems, and communication system.  Narek later started working at a boutique IP law firm while attending law school as well as interning with the City Attorney’s office with the City of Glendale.  After graduating law school, he started his solo practice and then transitioned into working for the USPTO.

Shant Savoian

Topic: Financing

City National Bank / Vice President & Senior Relationship Manager

Shant Savoian is a Vice President and Senior Relationship Manager with City National Bank’s Commercial Banking team. Shant partners with his clients as their dayto-day banker to achieve their business goals by providing working capital lines of credit, commercial real estate, equipment and acquisition financing, in addition to treasury management online banking services. He works with his capital markets partners in connection with syndications, sale of companies and helping private companies become publicly traded. He also works with his private banking partners to achieve his clients’ personal banking needs, including real estate and liquidity management.

Mr. Savoian started his banking career in 1994. Prior to joining City National Bank in 2017, Shant developed a strong portfolio of new clientele working as a Commercial Banker at JPMorganChase for six years. Prior to that, Shant worked as a Commercial Underwriter at California Bank & Trust for three years, following ten years as a Commercial Banking Credit Analyst at Bank of America (#1 California Credit Analyst in 2000) and four years at CIT Group Commercial Services as a Credit Analyst. Shant earned his law degree from Western State University College of Law in 2002 while working full-time.

Shant enjoys spending time with his wife and two children, reading, traveling, fitness training, and playing soccer (earned a Division I athletic scholarship as a walk-on at California State University at Los Angeles in 1988).

Ara A. Babaian, Esq.

Topic: Business Formation

Encore Law Group LLP / Partner & Founder

Ara Babaian founded Encore Law Group PC in 2011 to provide expert legal services to mature companies as well as to startups, emerging growth companies and entrepreneurs, and non-profit organizations, in the areas of Business and Intellectual Property Law, including venture capital finance and M&A. Drawing on his business acumen and over 10 years of big-firm experience, Ara represents a wide variety of clients in a number of industries, including Technology, Entertainment and Media, Real Estate, Health Care, Manufacturing and Distribution, Restaurant, Retail and Professional Services. He also acts as outside General Counsel to many of his clients.

Ara earned his JD in 2001 from Loyola Law School, where he received the Faculty Honors Scholarship and was an editor of the Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California at Berkeley where he double majored in English Literature and Molecular Cell Biology and minored in Creative Writing.

Ara has been elected as a Southern California Super Lawyer from 2015 through 2019, as well as a Rising Star previous to that, both honors given only to a few eligible lawyers in California.

Vahan Papyan, CPA, MBA

Topic: Tax Implications

RSVP CPAs & Advisors Inc. / Founder & CEO

Vahan is the founder and CEO of RSVP CPAs & Advisors Inc. He is a Certified Public Accountant and a business advisor with over 15 years of experience working with closely-held businesses and high net-worth individuals.

A native of Armenia, Vahan first came to the U.S. in 2001 as an exchange student studying Finance at Fresno State University. Two years later, he returned to Fresno State University, where he completed his MBA in Finance in just eleven months at the age of 21.

Vahan spent over a decade in regional and national firms in the greater Los Angeles area, including Squar Milner and Rothstein Kass. His professional experience includes tax preparation and strategic tax planning for corporations, partnerships, high net worth individuals, trusts and not-for-profits. Unlike many tax professionals, Vahan’s expertise also includes financial statement preparation, accounting, and business advisory services.

He has worked with a variety of industries, including healthcare, entertainment, real estate, technology, professions, manufacturing, wholesale, restaurants, and nonprofits. His clients are delighted in his ability to deliver effective solutions and in the many ways he continually exceeds their expectations.

He loves working with many different industries and many kinds of professionals to develop and apply strategies that help these businesses and their owners save taxes while building long-term wealth.

When Vahan isn’t working, he loves spending time with his wife and two young children, and playing piano. He also loves traveling to new and interesting places, whether it be a beach, mountain or city.

To continue giving back to the community, he founded the Armenian American Society of CPAs and the Apricot Life Foundation.

Susan Petoyan

Topic: Marketing

Imagine If Insights & Strategy / Founder & CEO

Susan is an insight-driven business strategist who helps clients make better business decisions — and create positive impact — through a better understanding of their target customers.

For nearly 20 years, Susan has partnered with Fortune 100 and 500 clients in various industries, both as an internal and external resource. Susan democratizes insights by bridging decision-makers with consumers in new, authentic, and powerful ways that translate insights and opportunities across all perspectives and borders.

Her passion for understanding and inspiring people (both consumers and business partners), and making a meaningful difference, is her catalyst for founding Imagine If Research & Insights.

Prior to founding Imagine If, Susan was Vice President of Strategy Research and Insights at the Walt Disney Company, where she established a new custom research practice and introduced one-of-a-kind methods, advanced analytics, global research, and consumer co-creation communities. As a result, she fundamentally evolved corporate culture by bringing the voice of the consumer to the decision-making table. Her passionate intrapreneurial focus on longer term growth and business strategies inspired fellow executives in marketing, tech, product development, creative, CRM, etc. and fueled the success of various profitable products and brands.

For the decade prior to Disney, Susan was Group Research Director at Lieberman Research Worldwide and served as a trusted advisor to GE, Disney, Levi Strauss, Nestle, FedEx, Macy’s, AT&T, Lowe’s, Avery Dennison, Jack in the Box, and Del Monte through strategic research on product development, pricing, brand, and marketing communication. As the head of a top-performing team, Susan led the A-to-Z of the research-and-insights journey based on her strong foundation of complex study design, survey methodologies, advanced analytics, and storytelling.

Varand Gourjian

Topic: Addressing Tough Questions

Gourjian Law Group, P.C. / Founding Partner

Varand Gourjian is the founding partner of Gourjian Law Group, P.C. Mr. Gourjian represents a variety of clients, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to bankruptcy trustees; from large institutional lenders to individual creditors.

Prior to founding Gourjian Law Group, Mr. Gourjian was an attorney with the law firms of Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis and Sulmeyer Kupetz Baumann & Rothman. He is admitted to practice in all state and federal courts in California, and is a member of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, the Financial Lawyers Conference, the Los Angeles Bankruptcy Forum, the Central District Consumer Bankruptcy Attorney Association, and the Armenian Bar Association.

In his business law practice, Mr. Gourjian serves as outside general counsel to various large companies with revenues exceeding hundreds of millions of dollars, and advises them in all aspects of their daily operations. As part of the firms’ real estate practice, Mr. Gourjian represents developers, investors, and real estate professionals throughout all stages of real estate transactions. Finally, in his extensive bankruptcy and reorganization practice, Mr. Gourjian has had extensive experience representing debtors, creditors, trustees and court appointed receivers throughout all insolvency proceedings. Mr. Gourjian regularly lectures throughout Southern California on the effects of bankruptcy on real estate markets and transactions.

Mr. Gourjian earned his J.D. from UCLA School of Law, and his B.A. from UCLA, where he graduated cum laude, with departmental honors in Philosophy. While at UCLA School of Law, he clerked for the Honorable Kathleen Thompson (USBC, CD Cal) and was an editor for the Journal of International Law and Foreign Affairs.

Armen Vartanian

Topic: Long-Term Value Creation

Oceanview Capital Partners, Inc. / Founder

Oceanview Capital Partners, Inc. is a Los Angeles-based private equity and advisory firm with committed capital and over a dozen portfolio companies. Oceanview Capital provides advisory services to entrepreneur-led companies and invests its own capital in control and non-control investments valued at up to $500 million. Oceanview Capital’s portfolio of companies and advisory clients benefit from the firm’s demonstrated track record in the areas of strategic planning, transaction structuring and exit planning, finance and liquidity management, and corporate governance. Prior to founding Oceanview Capital, Armen was a partner at the private equity firm Sun Capital Partners, a special situations fund with $8 billion under management, and an investment banker at Lehman Brothers in Los Angeles and Citigroup in New York. Armen received his Master of Business Administration degree from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, with Honors, from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.

Asadour Tarakchian

Master of Ceremonies

Ace Business Consulting / Founder

Asadour Tarakchian is the founder of Ace Business Consulting. For the past 7 years, he has provided his services to many private companies and franchises throughout the U.S., Canada, UK, and South America by giving insight on business development, operations management, project management, and professional development.

An entrepreneur since the age of 18, Asadour has founded multiple businesses in many different industries including Education, Healthcare, Bioengineering, Entertainment & Media, Wholesale and Nonprofits. He has a couple of research publications and patents on medical devices.

With a Bachelor’s in Biology from UC Irvine, where he also obtained an MBA, he is as versatile as the work he does and the positions he’s held.

Asadour Tarakchian is currently serving on the Executive Board of AESA (Armenian Engineers & Scientists of America) and on the School Board of St. Gregory Hovsepian School providing STEM-related initiatives to the community.

Get your tickets now as we anticipate tickets will sell out fast! Space is limited.

Address: 801 N. Brand Blvd. (third floor), Glendale, CA 91203. There is a parking lot next to NY Life for those interested in purchasing parking for the event.

Please arrive at 9:30AM for check in and for refreshments. The event will start at 10AM.

Lunch and morning refreshments (including coffee, pastries, fruit) will be provided at the event. We will have a one hour lunch break in between the presentations. From 3-4, we will have a networking/social hour, so stay longer and mingle!

To find out more about this workshop, contact: