Early in her career, Christina Hagopian (A’97) landed smack in the middle of the dot-com bubble burst. It didn’t, however, slow down the gutsy Carnegie Mellon University graduate one bit.
Drawing on her CMU background, the communication design alumna knew just what to do — start her own company. Ten years later, New York City-based Hagopian Ink is going strong.
Hagopian Ink “solves both print and interactive problems through design,” specializing in logo development, branding, and e-marketing. While a small operation, the company insures a “360 degree solution” through its strategic partnerships. Its continually growing client list includes numerous Fortune 500 companies and beverage giant PepsiCo, a long-term customer.
Entrepreneurial spirit was behind Hagopian Ink and is also behind CMU’s innovation ecosystem, Greenlighting Startups, a consortium of campus incubators that provide key resources for success.
Hagopian utilizes her strong network of CMU design alumni to grow her success, including recent project partner (Hafeez Raji, A’97), a new design assistant (Victoria Adams, A’12), and this story’s head-shot photographer (Sharona Jacobs, A’97).
“We’re all in the same circle now,” notes Hagopian, a Washington D.C. native. “It’s a very tight community of extremely talented people.”
“Everybody in my class raised the bar both academically and creatively. I’ve learned that the more you surround yourself with successful, talented, bright go-getters — all those things that CMU students are — the better you are.”
Hagopian was inspired early by a high school art teacher, who during junior year recommended CMU’s pre-college summer program. After a positive summer experience, Hagopian set her sights on CMU for college.
“I really wanted a top level university where I would get an extremely well-rounded education and also be a great designer,” she said. “Carnegie Mellon was the perfect fit.”
CMU’s renowned design program was recently voted #4 in a Business Insider survey ranking the ‘most valuable.’ It came as no surprise to Hagopian.
“The great thing about the CMU design education is that while you do have hands-on computer experience, the belief is, they’re not there to teach you to master the software because the technology will evolve,” she explained. “They teach you how to think and problem-solve beyond your tools.”
“That was really key because out in the real world, the industry is ever-changing,” she added. “And if you don’t change with it, you’re done.”
Hagopian’s advice to budding student entrepreneurs?
“Have the confidence to know that there will be pitfalls — but what you don’t know you can figure out. There’s an empowerment in that,” as well as knowing the Carnegie Mellon education you had will prepare you for the real world experience.