Halloween in Cyprus marked the beginning of Startup Grind’s local chapter event with Angelos Manglis, CEO of Atlantic Consulting, flying in from Greece to chat with a budding community of entrepreneurs and start up founders working from the Mediterranean Island.
The event took place at the wonderful UNESCO Theater at the University of Nicosia, which graciously provided the space and amazing atmosphere for the crowd to gather, grab a slice of pizza and listen to Angelos’s story.
As entrepreneurs and startups in Cyprus, Greece (and much of Southern Europe) grapple with extremely difficult economic circumstances, Angelos brought a message of hope and optimism through his own story of persistence and patience.
One phrase resonated above all others, “don’t be afraid to try new things.” As Angelos explained “if you hear something that you don’t know, don’t be afraid to follow it, because something which is new probably has a greater future than something old.”
In sharing his own 20-year entrepreneurial journey; that started from a makeshift office at the Atlantis Thessaloniki basketball gym (where the company coincidently gets it Atlantis name from), Angelos helped humanize the path towards success.
It was never about one big event or eureka moment that led to his company going from no money and zero clients to being the most respected technology and innovation consulting firm in the region, but more an effect of persistence and hard work. Success was a long, difficult “step-by-step process to growth and profitability.”
Angelos immediately won the crowd over by delivering a story that most young startups can relate to. The choices that many European entrepreneurs have ahead of them are indeed scary and Angelos’ ups and downs were comforting to the founders in attendance facing the same challenges ahead.
Some of the difficult choices that Angelos faced were shared with the group; from deciding to stay in Greece or move westward to pursue his dream, to dealing with cash flow issues and accepting money from his family and then girlfriend (now wife). Of course ultimately seeing partners, co-founders and employees leave the company. His story was a very personal account of his path towards success, while the entrepreneurial struggle highlighted from within his own experience was something everyone at the event could relate to.
Facing an uncertain future in a volatile region, Angelos stressed the importance for young entrepreneurs to always think strategically and strive to be investment ready for when the cycle turns upward.
In Angelos’s view ‘strategy to a startup is much more important than to an established business. When you are young and starting out with little and limited resources, thinking strategically makes all the difference.’
As the chat moved towards an end, the topic of relocation to tech hotbeds like Silicon Valley was discussed, for which Angelos’s message was once more personal rather than business focused. From a business sense, moving to capitals of innovation is the logical thing to do, but as Angelos so eloquently put it “we are after all human”, and the choices we need to make are not always about business but to a large degree personally influenced as well…so “be comfortable with your decisions” even if it mean staying local to build your business, because in today’s world big companies can happen anywhere with persistence and patience.‘