With the economic turmoil eating away at many businesses, it is a difficult time for entrepreneurs and small business owners all over Europe. Only the tough survive. Angelos Iacovides, media personality, entrepreneur and Managing Director of Scenario Group is one business owner who is experiencing the effects of the recession and managing to excel regardless. Former owner of MTV Cyprus, the Birmingham university graduate and media company owner gives an insightful look into his world...
The following interview was conducted by Michalis Michael on 25/11/2013 and took place at the Scenario Group premises in Nicosia, Cyprus.
Michalis Michael: Interviewer: How did you start out as an entrepreneur?
Angelos Iacovides: I have always wanted to do something with media. I started when I was fourteen years old with a radio show at CYBC after sending a proposal letter and then the head of acquisitions at CYBC invited me to go to her office. She was wondering what a fourteen year-old guy wanted from CYBC. I started out with a radio show on the First radio programme of CYBC that was in 1990 and then everything started from there. Why media? I don’t know. Since I was a little kid I wanted to present my own radio or TV show, I was doing things at home like a normal kid but I always wanted to do something in media.
M.M: What about your entrepreneurial activity. How did you start as an entrepreneur?
A.I: I started a bit differently. I just didn’t put let’s say 20000 euros down and say I’ll start making my own business. I started filming, editing and recording things for my school, filming what we were doing at school ceremonies, Christmas events, Easter events and end of the year events and I got some money from this. I bought my own camera. I was also doing video editing. When I was in the army I was presenting a radio show at the same time so I was getting money from CYBC. When I finished the army I went to the UK to study, I was working there creating websites. I made my first website in 1996 concerning the military service in Cyprus.
M.M: How easy or difficult was it for you to start as an entrepreneur?
A.I: What I was thinking is that I am doing a hobby and I am getting paid for it. I wasn’t really thinking that I want to make a company and employ people and all these things. What I wanted to do is what I like and start bringing money inside. I was underage and I couldn’t have my own company that time. Scenario Creative Services Ltd was registered under my mum, because I couldn’t register a company at the age of 13 or 14. So, that was the start of it, the start of everything that I am doing now.
I don’t really think it was difficult for me to start as an entrepreneur but when you work and you really like what you are doing, I think people can see it in your eyes and they really appreciate it and stay with you. I have clients doing their websites with me since 1996.
M.M: Were you aware of some potential risks involved in the business?
A.I: At the beginning I had no idea, because I studied Media, not Business, but I am doing everything related to business. So, there are many risks in the entrepreneurial world, as I can see them today with the economic crisis. Every day is a challenge. Every day you do things, every day you talk to people, you make proposals, sometimes you get some proposals, sometimes you don’t get any proposals. So, the difficulty is to convince people that your work is really good. Sometimes, I do advertise but sometimes I don’t. The best advertising is through word-of-mouth. What I can do is to be good at my work, and then work will pay me back.
M.M: What does it mean to be an entrepreneur?
A.I: I don’t really see myself as an entrepreneur. What I see is that I am doing what I really like, I am enjoying it and I have never said, “Hm.. If I were a doctor, or if I were a lawyer I would make more money”. At the end of the day if it is your own company and you want everyone to get paid first and then if there is any money left you get a salary as well. I can see that I am really connected to Scenario Group. Scenario is my “first baby” , it is 23 years old today, so I don’t see myself as an entrepreneur but I think myself as a guy who started doing things because he enjoys doing them, and money was just coming. What I am doing is just a passion or a hobby. I am always thinking of new things all day. I can spend a whole afternoon just browsing the internet and seeking for new ideas and new things to do.
M.M: What about innovation? How important is it to you?
A.I: When I started creating websites, I started doing them on AOL Press designing. There was not even Photoshop at that time in 1996, maybe there was Microsoft Paint! I started designing and programming websites, although I am not a programmer, I am a designer , but when you want to learn something you just learn it. In 1996 I was self-taught but then I went to the University in the UK and that time it was the start and booming era of the Internet so I got to know a lot of things. I was also appearing on the media, I was talking on TV and the radio about the Internet and saying that the Internet is a very good thing. You can do many things and also start your business. The Internet is not only for games. I started a business based on the Internet.
M.M: Meanwhile, you are the owner of so many businesses in the media and service sector. Can you provide me with an overview of what businesses you manage at the moment?
A.I: When you go online on scenariogroup.com you can get an overview of exactly what we are doing. The website has a simple design that provides people and businesses with the means to understand how we can help them with various sectors. The main business is the design and hosting of websites. From this I started designing and providing services to corporate entities. We do logos, corporate identities, envelopes and all these things. We also deal with social media and internet promotion for companies, We also deal with e-commerce, Customer Relation Management, design of corporate identity, we do marketing in Cyprus and media abroad, we are the representatives of the media in the Greek-Cypriot community of London, which are London Greek Radio, Parikiaki, Eleftheria newspaper. We used to do advertising and promotions for companies in London underground, on CNN, BBC websites, on London buses or London taxis. We do productions and voice-overs for radio ads and we also do coding and printing of plastic cards for various companies. We have Scenario media, which hosts skopies.net, a portal for Cypriot soldiers, we have music.net.cy which is a 16 year-old music portal and also weddingcy.com, a portal for people who want to get married. Scenario IT is something that was added a few months ago. It provides IT services and solutions such as telephony, security systems and data recovery to small and large businesses. We have Scenario Productions doing productions for MTV in Greece, Cyprus, CYBC, Sigma TV, and we also do various productions for other companies. Scenario events is another big service which provides catering services, renting of equipment for wedding ceremonies, christenings, birthday parties, corporate or social parties. We have Why not? which we started 7 years ago, with the booming of renovations and all these things that developers and contractors were doing, and everybody wanted to renovate their apartment or their office, shop etc. Joy Kids is a new thing that we started. It will be a kid TV show that will be aired soon. Melodia.tv is another music site dedicated to traditional Greek music.
For everything we launch we have a very good presence on social media, like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instragram. We have our own 20000 members or followers on each of these social media platforms.
M.M: How do you manage to cope with all these initiatives?
A.I: I have got a diary and I write everything on this as I have a lot going on every day. I normally work from 6 o’ clock in the morning up to 10 o’ clock at night. I present a radio show every day from 7pm-9pm on Klik fm. I used to present a radio show at Super fm for 12 years, now I am on Klik fm and I am enjoying what I am doing. Spending two hours on the radio is a non stressful 2 hour period for me.
M.M: What is the motivation behind having so many businesses in your portfolio?
A.I: I just want to make a one-stop shop so that people would come here and we help them with a lot of services. We’ve got very good cooperation with various businesses and I think the best thing is to do the best you can do to talk to people and understand their needs and provide them with the best price and best quality of services.
M.M: Which values govern your business activity?
A.I: We always tell the truth, we provide the best prices, we always try to help people and understand their needs and help them as best we can.
M.M: What was the proudest moment in your career?
A.I: Every time I am very proud of what I am doing. I have a very good cooperation with McDonalds and various other big companies. Nevertheless, I am very proud for every project I finish. I am proud almost every day. I am very proud of everything I have done up to now. If I could change anything? I wouldn’t really like to change anything.
M.M: What was the worst time in your career, if there was any?
A.I: Not being able to help someone who wanted our help. But in general, I don’t think there was a bad moment in my career. As a company, we try to meet the deadlines of our projects. We are happy.
M.M: Do you believe being an entrepreneur is something you are born with or you inherit the characteristics of a business man etc?
A.I: I am a Leo. So that comes with my personality. I just want to do new things, to inspire people. I just want to work with professional people in Cyprus and abroad. I just want to be happy with what I am doing. You cannot really study entrepreneurship. It comes with you. It comes with your knowledge and passion, it comes with your thinking, it comes with who you are.
M.M: Which factor or factors do you think determine the success of an entrepreneur?
A.I: Really loving what you are doing. Sooner or later it will become apparent if you don’t love what you are doing. People will see it that you are fake and they will stop using your services and everything that you provide for them.
M.M: Has entrepreneurship taught you anything in particular during your career?
A.I: Entrepreneurship taught me to be as truthful as possible and to be real.
M.M: What is the secret for becoming and remaining successful in today’s competitive environment?
A.I Someone needs to be proactive, read and think, and go to seminars and listen to people, not just do whatever is on your mind. It is important to try understand the business environment, read a lot of things, etc.
M.M: Has the economic crisis affected your business at all?
A.I: Of course. When the economic crisis started in the UK in 2008, it was one of the hardest periods for our group but with hard work we managed to put our company on the right track and we are doing quite well now.
M.M: What words of wisdom would you give to young people who aspire to become entrepreneurs?
A.I: Follow your dreams. I did. The difficult is easy, the impossible takes some time. The biggest success is my family and then comes everything else.