Success stories behind tech's top founders: Empact Ventures

Harry Gooding, Director, Hays Enterprise Technology Practice - UK and Ireland

We recently launched a brand-new technology series, exploring the career stories behind some of the world’s most exciting tech founders. Each month, I will host a live event, speaking to different tech founders and disruptors to find out how they: got to where they are today, arrived at their business concept, and secured investment to build their business.
 

Empowering startups and scale-ups that strive to make a positive impact

In the latest event on Tuesday 7th December, I sat down with Kosta Mavroulakis, the Founder and CEO of Empact Ventures.
 
Kosta works closely with companies that hold a strong social purpose, connecting them with the right people to encourage their growth and exposure. Empact Ventures and Hays Technology also power the Super Connect for Good competition, on which you can find out more about here.
 
You can watch our conversation in full below:
 
 
 
Or, if you’re interested in a particular element of the discussion, you can skip to find the answers to the following questions by using these timestamps:
 
Could you explain what you do in your job today? 06:12
At Empact Ventures, Kosta creates and co-creates initiatives to bring together scale-ups and startups with bigger enterprises.
 
When you began Empact Ventures, did you set out to connect big enterprises and startups? Was this a problem you recognised? 08:14
Having been elected president of the Entrepeneurs Society while at Warwick University, Kosta found his passion in helping young people in creating a business.
 
When you first started working with people with new business ideas, was there anything in particular that struck you about entrepeneurship? 10:39
An early impression of entrepeneurs was seeing their motivation. Anyone can be an entrepeneur, but attitude is key.
 
Do you see entrepeneurs in big enterprises? What characteristics do you find in the big businesses you work with? 11:51
There are different types of people in every business. He and Hays Technology have been working on "tech for good" and notices that, even if some people aren't entrepeneurs, still want to be on that journey.
 
The solutions you co-create are specific to the problem you're solving. Is there such a thing in your world as a typical problem? 16:33
Kosta explains that sometimes bigger companies want exposure and to be positioned as a thought leaders - at other times, their focus is on business development. Smaller companies often face specific challenges that aren't so easy to typify.
 
You are in a unique position in terms of being so well-networked. Is that a critical part of what you do? And how do you cultivate and grow this network? 23:25
If you help somebody at the start of their journey, you will make a great impression for the future. Kosta mentions how people he's worked with have gone on to Silicon Valley, and their desire to get involved in mentorship. Kosta stresses the importance in being transparent in what you need and how you can help - in particular, the latter should be a priority when networking in order to build trust.
 
You are also a founder yourself. What is it like founding a company from scratch? 29:51
Having started his first company at 17, he realised how lonely it was and decided that he wouldn't start another business by himself until he was absolutely ready. It's important to keep learning - you never stop.
 
When you look back on your time as a founder, what have been the key moments that taught you something? 33:26
One big takeaway has been the realisation that the public sector will track and measure their impact. He discusses this, as well as how the importance of tracking has affected the way in which Empact Ventures introduces enterprises.
 
Generally, the public sector are better at setting out KPIs before the launch, while in the private sector they are presumably driven by profit. What are your thoughts on that? 38:08
Empact Ventures have partnered with corporates that are interested in KPIs and measurements - these are the companies that Kosta loves because they want to learn and then lead.
 
Would you agree that leadership is a critical factor in a small business' success, or is it slightly overhyped? 40:37
Kosta advises an odd number of founders in a startup - that way a decision will always be made!
 
From your point of view as a leader, are there any top tips you've garnered over the years? 42:25
Kosta goes into detail on the importance of having a vision and why it matters. Leaders must understand the context of their work and which tone of voice will resonate with their audience. In addition, he discusses how, after all these years, listening to others is key.
 
Do you have any advice on keeping a decent work/life balance? 48:02
Kosta explains that he's not a "9-5er", but he recognises that he must make commitments to others and himself. He stresses the importance of ensuring harmony between his priorities and what matters to those around him.
 
What is one of your favourite success stories from the Super Connect For Good competitions? 50:28
Kosta singles out IGS, a vertical farming agritech company. Having been recognised in 2020, they returned this year to great success.
 
Have you seen any trends in the way that "tech for good" has changed since the pandemic? 53:25
A major trend that Kosta highlights is how companies are seeking "profit with purpose" as they help others. Along with, of course, the bottom line, social purpose has become a more common theme.
 
Any tips for fundraising? And what about when looking for overseas investments? 55:35
While there are rare occasions that companies send a generic pitch deck to dozens of providers and are successful, Kosta advises a targeted approach. He suggests looking for providers that have previously invested in similar businesses.
 

Watch more interviews with Tech Founders, including winners from the Super Connect for Good series, here.

 

Author

Harry Gooding
Director, Hays National Technology - UK&I

Harry Gooding is part of Hays Technology, working across our Enterprise Technology Practice and supporting new initiatives around skills development. After beginning his career in recruitment, he then worked in VC backed start-ups and scale-ups for six years across two different portfolios before joining Hays.

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