Dimitris Tsigos – Placing Faith in Youth
EntrepreneurCountry was delighted to welcome Dimitris Tsigos to London in early December, with Dan Ginger speaking to the Greek entrepreneur and mentor about the role of young people in modern innovation, the state of Greek entrepreneurship, and the role of government in stimulating the economy.
Dimitris established the first student web-development start-up in Greece in September 2000, quickly expanding internationally with 12 spin-out start-ups. The web development company seeded over €4.5million in spin-out businesses between 2003 and 2011, with 2 of these now valued higher than the original company, Virtual Trip Ltd. In 2011, Dimitris founded Start-Up Ventures, a triple-pronged seed fund, incubator and business angel aimed at sharing the experiences of Virtual Trip Ltd. with high growth and innovative businesses – capitalising on the creativity and drive of entrepreneurs. Dimitris holds a further role in the promotion and development of young businesses, as President of the YES for Europe Confederation of Young Entrepreneurs. The enthusiasm and passion shown by Dimitris came across significantly in the interview, where he displayed a great optimism for the future of Greek and European entrepreneurship.
Following an introduction to his numerous ventures, projects and passions, Dimitris underlined the role he considers young people to be able to play in the new economy. Not only do "young, creative people have now the capability...(to innovate)...with much lower capital requirements than 15 years ago", but he has great faith that they will successfully do so – "they take advantage of the unprecedented opportunities of the globalised market". Dimitris spoke of his trust in young people and in his employees – setting a precedent by giving equity stakes in his spin-out companies, providing "a good way for commitment and...a multiplying factor". Entrepreneurship, Dimitris claimed, "is a mentality, it is a way of life. So I think it is very important for corporations also to give the right structure that can really ignite the entrepreneurial instincts of companies". Significantly, he said, "So its as much about entrepreneurship as interpreneurship." Dimitris clearly has a deep respect for and understanding of the entrepreneurial drive, and the need to foster and encourage the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Dimitris then spoke of the role of governments in facilitating entrepreneurship and building on the multiple talents of entrepreneurs. He made a key point about grants funding inefficiency, stating that "I am coming from a country that was destroyed by the grants mentality because you cannot subsidise a sector...to a point where they haven't had success but they lost 20 years of opportunity to transform". Dimitris instead thought that "Of course there must be public money into the system, but through sophisticated instruments to increase risk taking and increase productivity, rather than subsidising an unsustainable business". Governments across Europe should also attempt to overcome the fragmentation of the continent for which "the impact in economic but also political and societal levels will be tremendous and unprecedented", Dimitris feels. "We need a business language in Europe because the cost of the language barrier is huge". Dimitris feels strongly about the need for cooperation and ensuring that "entrepreneurs from Lisbon can do business in Tallinn. And from Dublin to Cyprus". In short, he thinks that unity and efficiency are essential for European entrepreneurship.
Significantly, Dimitris commented on the driving factors for entrepreneurs, and what a successful entrepreneur exhibits. Tellingly, Dimitris earmarked one key element as "happiness" – "being useful and contributing something is probably the only way that can make you happy". He remarked, "there are many successful people...I am not sure that all of them are particularly happy with themselves. While successful entrepreneurs, all of them are very happy with themselves – that's a very interesting differentiator". Entrepreneurs require the drive and inventiveness that spurs them on, but at their core is the opportunity and vision to improve something in society or business.
Dimitris is a successful and optimistic entrepreneur, who is committed to developing Greek and European entrepreneurship – helping the next generation of innovators to be useful, and hence happy. "There have been hundreds if not thousands of young, creative, dynamic people trying to raise a new economic model – and I'm very optimistic for this".