In this series, The Recursive explores the educational hotspots for entrepreneurs in SEE. We trace the roots of some of the best-known startup founders, investors, and entrepreneurs from the ecosystem back to the educational institutions that nurtured and developed the knowledge and skills of the leaders who create innovative solutions regionally and globally.
With more than 100-year-old history, the Athens University of Economics and Business (AUEB) has always been recognized for its research capacity thanks to which many alumni have developed into industry leaders, entrepreneurs, and managers. It comprises three schools (School of Business, School of Economics, and School of Informatics) and 8 academic departments in the fields of economics, management, and technology. The university also has created a separate Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation which serves as the central hub that transforms academic research into functioning businesses.
Take a look at our selection of 5 ecosystem builders and serial entrepreneurs that started their journey at AUEB.
Name: Aris Konstantinidis
Position: Business Operations Manager
Market specialty: AI, Business Operations, Entrepreneurship
Degree at AUEB: Bachelor’s Degree Business Administration and Management
The story in a nutshell: Aris Konstantinidis is one of the founding members of the Biz Ops teams of OpenAI, the research and deployment company that aims to make AI available for general-purpose use. Since he joined the company in 2019, he has been responsible for organizational planning and leading cross-functional company-wide initiatives. Prior to becoming part of OpenAI, he has been involved with building his NGO startup for volunteerism Ethalon. He has been running Ethalon for the past 9 years with the mission to make it the hub for volunteering in Greece.
Konstantinidis is also one of the creators of the Young Entrepreneurs Teaching Initiative (Y.E.T.I) project that encourages young people to explore entrepreneurship and self-employment as a possible career path. He has been an Ambassador for Sandbox, a global community that aims to test the borders of what is possible, and an Ambassador for One Young World which has been referred to as the “Young Davos”.
Name: Aris Zikopoulos
Company: Hack The Box
Position: Co-Founder & Chief Commercial Officer
Market specialty: Information Security, Product Management, Cloud Computing, Data
Degree at AUEB: MBA
The story in a nutshell: Aris Zikopoulos is part of the founding team of Hack the Box, the online cybersecurity training platform that aims to replace cyber security certifications with gamification. Together with Haris Pylarinos and James Hooker, Zikopoulos managed to scale Hack the Box and closed a $10.6M Series A just 4 years after its launch. For its 4 years of existence, the platform has gained more than 500 000 members with various levels of cybersecurity expertise, and around 800 public and private organizations including Fortune 500 companies.
In addition to managing planning, business development and execution of sales, product, and marketing, he is also a skilled engineering and infrastructure specialist and holds multiple certifications from CISCO.
Position: Co-founder & COO
Market specialty: Financial Analysis and Investments, Marketing, Communication
Degree at AUEB: Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Finance
Vasiliki (Ilia) Tzortzopoulou is the co-founder of Morphoses, an online platform that provides learners and parents with engaging soft-skill classes. Her mission is to influence the education market and democratize the way people acquire soft skills. She is also the Manager of Entrepreneur Selection and Growth at Endeavor Greece where she is responsible for the selection and servicing of Endeavor Entrepreneurs, manages the Endeavor network, and leads the Smart City Vertical.
Before joining Endeavor, she worked for a start-up in Switzerland, called Plastics Unbound, where she served as the Finance coordinator. She was there from the initial stages of the company, through 3 rounds of financing, and helped for the successful expansion into several markets.
Name: George Dimopoulos
Position: Partner and Co-Founder
Market specialty: Investment Banking, Financial Modeling, Corporate Finance, Marketing
Degree at AUEB: Masters in Accounting and Finance
George Dimopoulos is one of the two co-founders of the Greek early-stage VC VentureFriends, together with Apostolos Apostolakis. He has been an angel investor for the last 5 years focusing primarily on tech companies, among which the mobility startup Beat. He has years-long experience in accounting and finance, and international economics as he has previously worked for Bank of America and Merrill Lynch in London.
Name: Yiannis Kanellopoulos
Position: Founder and CEO
Market specialty: Software Development, Entrepreneurship, Machine Learning, AI
Degree at AUEB: BSc in Information Technology
Yiannis Kanellopoulos is the founder of the tech company Code4Thought which aims to make technology used in software systems of AI models more transparent and human-centric. His mission is to ensure that algorithmic systems are fair and accountable and that organizations use technologies in a sustainable and responsible way from a human and technical point of view.
Kanellopoulos has over 17 years of experience as a PhD researcher, management consultant, and a practice leader for the international Software Improvement Group in Greece. He is an active member of the local innovation and startup community and serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors at the Orange Grove incubator.