Meet Stelios Leftheris, Managing Partner, VESTIGOS, a member of our Access to Experts initiative.
A member of the Access to Experts initiative, Stelios answers the Hub's Q&A so you can get to know him better.
Stelios is an IT, Information Security, and Risk Manager with over 19 years of extensive experience in IT operations and management, Risk Assessment, Governance, Infrastructure Security, Application Security, 3rd Party Security and Threat Management in very complex environments.
He currently runs the VESTIGOS group of companies that are mentoring, advising and guiding investors/family offices, SMEs and tech start-ups on business & technology strategy and funding in preparation for scaling up/growth and market networking.
Can you summarize your role in one sentence?
I use my background in tech and entrepreneurship to support startups make the right decisions and prepare for growth.
What are two truths and one myth about your field?
- You need to prepare to fail and fail again, and learn in the process.
- A brilliant team/CEO with an average idea makes wonders but not the other way around.
Founders believing that money grows on trees and that everyone gets funded quickly, and that their startup will be bought by Google/Amazon, etc.
Who would benefit the most from your expertise?
Given my background in healthtech, IoT, tech infrastructure, and fintech, I am well-positioned to help tech-focused entrepreneurs translate their tech ideas into feasible business products, as well as helping investors interested in investing in tech startups understand the complex concepts being developed.
Tell us about your experience working with a startup/entrepreneur.
We had startups returning to us months after our initial discussions once they understood that mentorship is a valuable addition to their business journey, and that we can add value. Results we usually see include them having a better understanding of their capabilities, better strategic planning for growth, and producing more focused products. A startup focusing on cashier-less tech that we pitch-assessed managed to raise over $70m in two very short consecutive rounds, and went on to become a leader in its field.
What is a common challenge you've noticed entrepreneurs face, and why is it important for entrepreneurs to seek mentorship on this topic?
We have worked several times with startups whose CEO’s had just left the corporate world and realized that running singlehandedly a company is very different. It takes time to understand that:
- Prioritizing and focus is king;
- Persuade yourself first before persuading others;
- You can’t do everything in one go;
- Talk simply!
What’s the best professional advice you’ve ever received? What about one piece of advice you would share with your younger self?
Read your emails twice and do not reply in anger!
Also, I have lost years during my career development being too technical and not realizing I was not understood by others. Be open to this realization - you will not be able to execute everything in parallel unless you have a team that you trust and can communicate with. This goes without saying, but having a budget before diving headfirst into a project also helps.
Lastly, learn to prioritize!
Stelios is part of our Access to Experts initiative, providing mentorship and support to prospective and existing entrepreneurs looking to grow in Abu Dhabi. Connect with him and other industry thought leaders here.