In today's interview, we have with us Tony Kyriakides.Tony is a young man living in the Netherlands, sharing with us his experiences and how he managed to go from school in Cyprus, where he went without books, to collaborating with Formula 1. It's an exceptional interview that has a lot to offer us. We thank Tony very much for his contribution to our page and wish him every success in the future. Happy reading!
1. What was your relationship with education and school? How were you as a student?
When I was a student, I disliked school. The only subjects that interested me were Gymnastics, Art, and Computer Science. I didn't try to hide my dislike for the subjects that I found uninteresting to the point where I wouldn't even bring books to school. My bag was almost always empty in high school. I believe that the education system in our schools is wrong, but that's a topic for another discussion. When I went to study and entered a store (ABC Book Store) to buy the books I needed for my studies, I found so many books on various topics that interested me. In Cyprus, I never found a bookstore with such a large catalog of books. From that day on, I read as much as possible. When a few days go by without me opening a book, I feel like I'm setting the wrong priorities. I wish I had developed this love when I was younger.
2. What was your first encounter with entrepreneurship and how did it come about?
I remember from high school I was trying to sell things online. I didn't manage to sell anything. Then I found an article explaining how some people make money with vending machines and I tried to save money to buy one. Until I managed to do it, I had tried other things. One thing was certain. I would never build someone else's dream. My first serious attempt to do something on my own was "Smashing Parties", which was a weekly party at "Napa Bungee" in Ayia Napa.
3. We know you worked "night shifts". How difficult was that and how did you manage it?
For years I planned to open my own club, and I started working at Black n White first to gain experience. After a year, I started working in more clubs. I worked as a photographer, as a host (club doors), and also did artist management. It was exhausting. I had one life during the day and a different one at night. Sleep was scarce and the nightlife was generally unhealthy. I have met a lot of people working in clubs and kept in touch with many of them. It's a toxic life that traps you. I know people who still work in Ayia Napa, and every summer they tell me, "This is my last season." It was an interesting part of my life, but I'm glad I left it behind.
4. What is your relationship with photography?
My father and mother are award-winning photographers and cinematographers. Recently, my brother also started his endeavor to pursue a career in filmmaking. One day, I convinced my father to give me a camera and teach me the basics. My plan was to learn enough to offer photography as a service in clubs. Knowing how to take photos is a skill that will help you for the rest of your life. It's a way of expression.
5. How did you decide to go to the Netherlands to study? What did you want to study and why in the Netherlands?
I didn't plan to go for studies, but when I realized I didn't want to continue working in clubs, I started looking for universities abroad. My aunt who lives in the Netherlands sent me information about a relatively new study program in The Hague, Netherlands. The study was called "International Media and Entertainment Management", with one of the main courses being Event Management. Without hesitation, I enrolled, and in September 2015, I started studying at Inholland University of Applied Sciences in The Hague.
A year later, my brother also came for studies, and we rented a house in the center of The Hague. In that house, we experienced a lot! The best conversations, new ideas, hosting people who hadn't found accommodation yet, and often hosting house parties. I have very fond memories of the time we spent there. After four years in The Hague, we decided to move to Amsterdam with my girlfriend and my childhood friend. Amsterdam is a city with a rich culture and supports entrepreneurship. In my opinion, it's the most beautiful city in Europe.
6. Tell us a few words about your companies.
During my first year of study, I searched for venues that would meet my criteria for a new event I wanted to organize in The Hague. It took me quite some time, so I thought about creating an online platform that would have all the landscapes one could organize an event in. So I started Venuepark. I decided to stop Venuepark after two years because I chose to collaborate with people from my university whom I had known for quite some time. We had different priorities.
Nevron (2018 - Present)
After Venuepark, I did an internship at a company in Amsterdam (BrandMKRS) as a Loyalty Manager. There I met Nouh, who was a programmer. I had been programming since I was 14, and when I told him, he asked me if I could help him with a problem he had. I solved it, and when the owner of the company found out, he asked me if I could build them an online platform to support the customer service team. To get paid, I had to write a company, so I started Nevron. Since 2018, we have worked with the biggest festivals in the Netherlands such as Lowlands and Down The Rabbit Hole, we build platforms used in the Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix, we create new innovations in the field of Digital Out Of Home Marketing for JCDecaux, and much more!
IMITC (2023 - Present)
Since the beginning of 2023, I became a partner and co-owner of the IMITC platform (Incident Management In The Cloud). IMITC is used by the Dutch government to record and manage all incidents on roads and installations. My goal with IMITC is to expand to America and the rest of Europe.
There are other businesses and projects, but I can't give details yet.
7. How did you manage to network?
I have sent messages to entrepreneurs on Instagram, LinkedIn, and many emails. I attended various events I found online, without knowing anyone. When I see an interesting article, I send them an email. I talk to people on the street, when I enter a business in the city, I talk to the staff and the owners. I ask them how they feel, how business is going, their opinion on their products, how long they have been open, etc. I like talking to people because there is always something you can learn from anyone. We are organizing the first Networking Event in Amsterdam in June, and I plan to organize it monthly in special venues.
"Not Networking = Not Working"
8. Do you believe there is a future in Cyprus for young entrepreneurs? Do you think that going abroad helped you to progress and evolve?
There is a future. Cyprus is a country that attracts the interest of foreign businesses due to its low taxation. Through the internet, we can sell products and services worldwide. I believe that in the tourism sector, a young entrepreneur can bring new ideas and create healthy businesses.
Going abroad is important in general. Everyone should travel abroad and experience new cultures. I consider it important for a person to leave Cyprus for at least a year and live somewhere else. Somewhere outside Cyprus and Greece. To make new friendships, to learn the good and bad of another country, to realize and compare them with your own place.
If you live elsewhere for a while, you will learn to appreciate our island, but you will also realize our mistakes. When something works well in another country, think if you can do the same in Cyprus and build a business around it. If someone wants to create a serious business, it helps to be in places where these businesses gather. London, Paris, Berlin, Stockholm, and Amsterdam, and various others.
9. For which project are you most proud that was achieved?
The project we did for Hirs Advies and Crafture. We built the Mobility Dashboard used in the Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix. The purpose of the Dutch Grand Prix is for people attending the race to travel with 100% sustainable means. They asked us to create an online platform that would show in real-time how people move to get to the circuit. Together with George Michaelides and Peter Georgiou, we worked every day until late to finish the project on time. We used data from trains, buses, car parking spaces, bicycle parking spaces, data from cameras on bike paths, data from cameras at train stations, and many more. This year we reached 98%. Our collaboration will continue at least until 2025.
10. What was the most beautiful and the most difficult thing you experienced as a professional?
The most beautiful thing is to realize that when you have the right people around you, you can "conquer the world." The most difficult thing I experienced was when our clients owed large amounts and I didn't know if I could pay my team.
11. What are your hobbies and what do you enjoy doing in your free time?
In terms of sports: Wakesurfing and Padel. When I'm at home: I like to read books, articles, or listen to podcasts.
12. What are Tony Kyriakidis' goals for the future?
My immediate goal is for the businesses not to depend on me and to be able to operate autonomously. It will require new people, new partners, and new systems.
Then we'll see.