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Ascanio CEO: Cyprus has the potential to grow into major global startup player

George Tziazas, Co-founding CEO of Ascanio, explains why it is important to have a clear vision and strategy when establishing a startup, while he also reveals why he believes Cyprus has great potential to grow into a major player in the global startup landscape.

What lessons have you learned while working in a startup ecosystem like that of Cyprus, and how have you stayed motivated and focused during challenging times?

Firstly, the importance of having a clear vision and strategy for your startup. Having a well-defined goal and roadmap makes it easier to stay focused and motivated during challenging times. It’s good to set achievable milestones and celebrate every small win along the way. Secondly, the power of networking and collaboration, since being part of a startup community gives you access to a diverse range of talents and resources. So, build strong relationships with other entrepreneurs, investors and industry experts. Thirdly, embrace failure and view it as a learning opportunity. Every setback has taught us something valuable and we always try to use these experiences to improve our strategy and decision-making. Finally, staying informed and adaptable is key, since the industry is constantly evolving.

How have you approached fundraising for your startup, and what challenges have you faced in securing investment?

Overall, our approach has been to build a solid MVP and validate it in the market, which helped us to build traction and attract the right investors. So, we have prioritised understanding customers and their needs and building a team that is passionate about the product and the problem we are solving. Securing investment is not easy, and there are challenges along the way. Most founders struggle with finding investors who share their vision. To overcome this, we have focused on building relationships with potential investors without seeking money, bringing them on as partners, working together, testing if we could work together, and establishing a rapport. Because of this, I can’t really say that we have faced challenges in raising money.

How have you adjusted your business strategy to account for the nascent nature of the local ecosystem, and what changes have you made to stay competitive?

A key change we made was to focus on building partnerships and collaborations with other local startups and businesses. Working together, we can leverage each other’s strengths and resources to create a more robust and competitive ecosystem. Another important change is to stay on top of the latest trends and technologies to continuously innovate our product and services. Staying ahead of the curve is key to being competitive in a rapidly evolving global market. Finally, we have adjusted our business strategy to account for the unique challenges of operating in a nascent ecosystem, such as limited access to capital and resources. We have focused on building lean and efficient operations and have prioritized revenue-generating activities to ensure sustainability and growth.

What advice would you give to other founders navigating this environment?

Simon Sinek said, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” If you can articulate your ‘why’ – your mission, values, and vision – and communicate it effectively, you will be more likely to attract customers, investors and employees who share your beliefs. But it’s not enough to just know your ‘why’. You also need to live it, breathe it and make it the foundation of every decision you make. Another piece of advice I would offer is to embrace collaboration. The startup ecosystem in Cyprus is relatively small but growing fast. By working with other founders, investors and mentors, you can gain valuable insights, connections and resources that will help you succeed.

How would you like to see the Cyprus startup ecosystem evolve over the next few years?

I believe Cyprus has great potential to grow into a major player in the global startup landscape. In the next few years, I would like to see more support and resources available for startups, such as access to funding and mentorship. Secondly, more collaboration and partnerships among startups, businesses and academic institutions. Finally, I would like to see innovation and entrepreneurship introduced at a younger age. We are on a good path and can create a thriving and sustainable ecosystem that attracts top talent and drives economic growth.

What is it?

A mixed-reality software development company focused on delivering safety, scalability & real-time data to high-risk and mission-critical training.

Founded: 2015

Headquarters: Nicosia, Cyprus

Number of employees: 10

Funding secured: €300,000

This article first appeared in the April edition of GOLD magazine. Click here to view it.

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