EBRD helps Armenian telecom provider realise its true potential

By Nick Thompson

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FNET is a burgeoning internet and telecommunications provider in Armenia, which recently sought support from the EBRD and the European Union to achieve a more strategic approach to human capital management and enhance its website and marketing activities. Its aim was to transform the business internally, allowing it to achieve its full potential externally and become the prevailing provider in homes across the country.

Like many of the tech titans in Silicon Valley, FNET began in a humble garage, with limited resources. Co-founder and CEO Gevorg Yengibaryan started the company in Yerevan in 2009 with his friend and fellow Co-founder Andranik Elmasyan.

Both were very green at only 23 – with neither business experience nor higher education – and unprepared for the challenges that lay ahead. “The formation and rapid rate of expansion was unusual for a fledgling business and, consequently, full of obstacles,” says Gevorg.

Despite this, one thing both entrepreneurs did have in abundance was tenacity, and since those early days, they have grown the company exponentially, rebranding it from MY TV to Family Network – or FNET – in 2017, when the business diversified, entering the internet provider market and offering a combined TV and super-fast broadband service.

Creating a coherent organisational structure

The company requested assistance from the EBRD’s Advice for Small Businesses programme to increase productivity and efficiencies in day-to-day operations through the merging of HR and other departments.

The company had grown but staff had no clear roles. “Everyone doing and managing everything was not working well at the time we applied to the EBRD for support. We realised we needed to scale the company in a more directed fashion and create separate departments internally in order to grow effectively,” Gevorg reflects.

This organisational transformation has given staff more defined roles and allowed the business to become responsive and agile, reacting to challenges sooner and more assuredly than they did in the past.

Business differentiators

FNET’s unique selling proposition is that it offers customers channels for all the TVs in their home at the same price other companies do for only one TV. The business constantly strives to innovate with continual product development and investment in R&D to achieve new ways of increasing the quality of their services and the user experience.

The aim for the company is to become the market leader, and to get there they set measurable KPIs for each month, quarter and year, evaluating those objectives on an ongoing basis. Gevorg believes that if they succeed in meeting these incremental goals, the business will continue to grow and they will eventually reach their long-term targets.

Identity

The rebranding to ‘Family Network’ in 2017 was a key moment for the company. The new name reflected the corporate DNA its CEO had spent years nurturing. It defined the company to an external audience, including potential new customers, and reinforced that identity among staff.

“Our HR department is called ‘People and Culture’ and each employee is treated like a member of our family. We work better together, united, not fearing mistakes, but welcoming openness and requests for assistance and guidance whenever needed – no matter the role or position within the company,” Gevorg explains.

A commitment to the health and wellbeing of staff and the provision of training and development opportunities only serve to strengthen this internal philosophy and corporate value system. Indeed, Gevorg acknowledges that his employees are the lifeblood of the company and accepts that without the quality of his team, growth would have been much more limited.

A promising future

The company now sits in the top five internet and telecommunication service providers in Armenia, with aspirations to become the number one by 2025.

To get there, it plans to launch a new company website and mobile app – both supported by the EBRD – construct a new office, and build its own network channels with fibre-optic connectivity.

It is clear that FNET has the vision, resources, and confidence at the top to realise that ambition.

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