Who are you?
I am a young entrepreneur motivated by taking the road less travelled. Currently, I am a third year student studying Information Management for Business at UCL. I am 23 years old from Cyprus and from a very early age I have been passionate about engineering, business and technology.
You are one of the Co-Founders of Heart Cyprus, what is it?
That’s right. My co-founders are Andria Lambrou and Armin Orododary. Heart Cyprus is a destination marketing brand for Cyprus. HeartCyprus.com portal is dynamic and exciting. It’s not just a basic tourism website where visitors just check out the latest venue offers and photos. At Heart Cyprus we partner with those involved in Cyprus tourism industry to showcase their venues or businesses by interactive HD virtual tour so that visitors will have feel and a 360 degree view of the place they want to visit. This also gives the opportunity to travelers from all around the world to know Cyprus better and get to walk through the villages and towns virtually till they come and experience it firsthand.
Why did you start Heart Cyprus?
Heart Cyprus was the product of youth frustration with regards to the way Cyprus was being portrayed at the height of the financial crisis, a photo sharing page that started back in 2009 gave the idea for a bigger, bolder brand to market Cyprus to the global traveler. Cyprus is the Island of Love, simply by loving this island and sharing the love with the world through social media and other new age communication mediums we want to showcase this God-given beauty laid the basis for the creation of Heart Cyprus.
There are always people wondering how they should find “the right” Co-Founder, so how did you find your Co-Founders and what is your advice?
Armin, my co-founder who back then has started the “I [heart] Cyprus” page contacted me on facebook. (Much like a blind date) sparked the desire for a mega brand for Cyprus. I asked my sister who has a Masters in Strategic management to join us and with combined forces and teamwork we have managed to bring Heart Cyprus to what it is today in such a short time.
What’s the business model behind Heart Cyprus?
We generate revenue from the listings on our website. We promote our customers to our community of 180,000 people on facebook. In addition, we are introducing Heart Cyprus Tours and branded products.
How did you manage to increase your Facebook presence?
Dedication, hard work and patience. Our page started as an open source project with over 50 photographers sharing their photos of Cyprus for free. The high quality of content , the likeable name of the page and the fact that we were the first page about Cyprus played a very important role to the increase of our Facebook presence.
Do you think Young Entrepreneurs should go to college or start working on their ideas without attending any University?
It depends. I believe entrepreneurship can’t be taught at College. I founded my first startup TheVillageXpress when I was 19 before attending college .My startup was the best University for me. It developed and nurtured my business skills but also, enabled me to feed my passion entrepreneurship. I was lucky enough for my startup to be an instant success! However I believe unsuccessful startups are the best r “Universities” for young entrepreneurs. Taking risks is the only way to really be successful. If you empower yourself to take educated risks, you may not get it right every time but you significantly reduce the chances of you getting it wrong. I believe that everyone should attend college at some point, not for the education but for the experience and the people you meet. Google founders met at Stanford University while doing their PhDs. Facebook and Microsoft were founded by entrepreneurs during their college years.
Where do you think the Tech Industry is headed?
Technology has changed and is changing our lives exponentially. Nowadays, resources are accessible and with the power of Social Networking websites like LinkedIn and upcoming web sites (Synups.com) you can find the best people to join your team Also on websites like PeoplePerHour.com you can find people to work with at low cost. Entrepreneurs can even startup businesses via Skype. This has lead to more technology and internet entrepreneurs. Since entrepreneur = innovation, Increase in entrepreneurs has a result in increase in innovation. Technology is evolving in all sectors. Visions like Google glasses or Iron Man suits become a reality. In my opinion, the technology industry is heading towards the innovation of medical equipment and applications. It’s a very challenging market, but it’s attractive since is a permanent one and can have a positive impact in our lives.
We know that you are working on a new startup, Social Airways, that is, in a sort way, related to what you are doing with Heart Cyprus. Can you tell us something about your idea?
Social Airways is a social flight search engine that connects people who are on the same flight, assisting travellers in finding a useful method of utilizing flight time constructively by exchanging knowledge with fellow travellers and providing alternative options that will be social and pleasant. Our social flying platform facilitates collaboration and provides travellers with social networking tools and features to make arrangements with other travellers:
1) To sit together during the flight
2) Meet for a coffee at the airport
3) Arrange a lesson during the flight
4) Exchange ideas, books, games and movie
5) Share a taxi home.
We see the future of travel and tourism about developing instant, personalised and bookable services. For airlines, destinations and tourism companies “what matters” is focused on how they can offer a more personal and customised travel experience with relevant information for their customers. Social networking, mobile and consumer technology are changing traveller behavior and expectations. The travel industry is being challenged to keep up with the latest advancements pressurising cost optimisation and travel performance enhancement while increasing the focus on how technology can better meet travellers’ needs. Heart Cyprus will assist in the promotion of Social Airways to its big community of frequent travellers.
Why are you motivated to build this startup?
Most people assign security to a ‘9 to 5’ style job which has lead to too many people, in my opinion, simply existing within that routine. The tragedy of this is well defined by Henry David Thoreau when he says “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”Those who have passion are driven. They don’t just float through life, riding the waves of everyday routine, they have purpose – they have something to live for. Passion generates an intensity that is immediately recognizable but all too rare. Given that we spend more time at work than we do at home, ensuring that what we do in the form of work can have a large impact on our happiness and, those who are driven by passion and have the courage to pursue their passion, inevitably are more fulfilled and free. Most people wake up in the morning, do a ‘9 to 5’ job, come home, sleep and do the same thing all over again the next day. Others wake up and go and change the world. Which do I choose? Build startups that will Change the world and I believe Social Airways will make a difference in the way we travel.
We interview Entrepreneurs from all over the world and they all have crazy visions and ideas about their future, where do you want to be in the next 10 years?
This might sounds cliche but its the truth: “The people who are crazy enough they think they can change the world , are the ones who do”. Entrepreneurs, we are all nuts and we all have these crazy visions. This is what drives us to the execution of our “crazy” ideas and therefore the accomplishment of our dreams. I want to accomplish all of my dreams in life and at the same time leave my mark.During the next 10 years, some of my goals are to drive innovation , create jobs, change people lives, make the world a better place to live, have a big family and be able to travel to space!
Do you think a 20 years old University Student should startup now or wait until he/she finishes University?
Go for it! Whatever you can do tomorrow, do it today – and whatever you can do today, do it now. As Richard Branson said “If something is what you really want to do, just do it.” Aged twenty seven Branson fell in love with Necker Island and so asked the owner how much it was to buy. He received the answer of £3,000,000 to which he boldly bargained for £150,000. The owner eventually offered it for £180,000 – great news but, the only problem was that Branson didn’t have the money. He still agreed – he took a huge risk but, through steely determination and kindness from family, he bought his own island. I believe any time is always a good time to startup something. Taking risks is the only way to really be successful. It is never the ‘right time’ to do take a change of direction in life when you analyze every crevice of your life that would be impacted if you did. The ‘right time’ therefore has to be created by you and the only way to enforce it is by taking a risk. Don’t waste any more time. Startup now and go get your own “Necker Islands”.