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Nodes & Links CTO: Why ideas have no value unless you can actually deliver them

Dr Christos Ellinas, Co-founding CTO, Nodes & Links, a developer of AI software to help teams that manage large engineering projects, suggests the way to startup success includes testing your ideas at every opportunity.

What were the key factors that contributed to your startup’s success, and how did you identify and capitalise on them?

Having access to our customer base and getting time in front of them to test (and retest) our hypothesis until we converged on a valuable problem. We were also very fortunate to have access to great networks of both mentors and ex-founders who helped us avoid common pitfalls.

How did you build and develop your team, and what key skills and expertise did you prioritise when hiring?

Intelligence is the single most important quality that we look for. We need people who are enthused and motivated by a challenge and are happy to operate in a fluid but professional environment.

Looking back, what were some of the biggest challenges you faced as a startup founder – especially those around funding – and how did you overcome them?

One was being able to translate a complicated problem/solution into a simple value proposition that made financial sense to a VC investor. VC investors are not looking for a good company or a great company. They are looking for a disruptive company, one that can return their entire fund. This means that the opportunity at hand (and the Total Accessible Market) must be big enough to sustain their investment in you.

What advice would you give to founders just starting out, and what qualities do you believe they need to succeed?

First, test your ideas with every opportunity you have. Do not treat your ideas like secrets – ideas have no value unless you can actually deliver them. Second, funding is global, especially after COVID-19. Reach out to investors across the world and don’t feel constrained because of the limited funding available in Cyprus. We raised our Series A from UK and USA investors exclusively via Zoom calls.

What change would you like to see to the Cyprus startup ecosystem that could increase the number of success stories?

Government schemes that can support and motivate tech startups. Schemes like that can include R&D Tax Credit systems, which incentivise the development of intellectual property in an agile way. Another mechanism is funding schemes akin to the UK’s Innovate umbrella, where funding is funnelled to innovative startups in a transparent and fast way so that startups can focus on development without being distracted by long and complicated processes.

What is it? A developer of AI software to help teams that manage large engineering projects deliver them faster, more sustainably, and at less cost.

Founded: 2019 | Headquarters: Cambridge, UK

Number of employees: 45

Funding secured: US$13 million in VC funding + €0.5 million in grant funding

This interview first appeared in the April issue of GOLD magazine. Click here to view it.

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