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New member in the VF family: Fivos

George KarabelasJune 23, 2021

Tell us about your background

Prior to joining VentureFriends, I was working in Investment Banking at Credit Suisse in London for more than 3 years. I was exposed to a variety of projects within the global Transport, Infrastructure & Energy sector and had the opportunity to work with some great people. In Investment Banking the environment is fast-paced and the learning curve steep, especially in the first few years. With hard work and determination, I think and hope I made the most out of it! I gained the team’s trust and had the opportunity to be involved in several big-scale M&A and financing transactions. I am really grateful for this experience. Before joining Credit Suisse, I did a 6-month internship with MSEA Capital, an investment fund based in Tel Aviv and Cyprus (I split my time between the two), and prior to that, I was working in a shipping company based in Athens. The latter experience provided me with the opportunity to travel around the world to places like Mexico, Romania, and Croatia. A very different experience when compared with my current role, but still a very interesting one with a lot of learnings. In terms of studies, I hold an MEng in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens and an MSc in Finance degree from Cass Business School.

What are the 3 things that fascinate you most about the industry?

  • The opportunity to meet and discuss with extremely smart and driven founders and investors. Reviewing innovative ideas and exchanging views around new business models on a daily basis, makes the learning experience truly unique.
  • The forward-looking nature of the business. We invest in ideas and early-stage companies aiming to eventually create a positive impact in our society and this can simply be by making our everyday lives just a little bit easier.
  • Being close and supporting a startup from the very early days through its different growth stages must be a very fulfilling experience with a lot of important learnings down the road.

Why did you decide to return to Greece?

At this stage of my life, this was clearly a career-driven decision. Greece is home, and after almost 6 years of being abroad, I am really happy to return. The key for me though is that Greece is starting to offer competitive opportunities with outward-looking companies looking to expand their footprint on a more European and International scale. Having said that, the opportunity to join the amazing VentureFriends team is what ultimately drove my decision. Being close to my family, enjoying the sun, food, sea, and the broader quality of life Greece has to offer, are all aspects that I had of course missed and feel privileged I can enjoy again now!

What are the main reasons which made you want to join VentureFriends?

The quality of the team both on a professional and personal level. Our partners Apostolos and George are both experienced investors with a strong combination of entrepreneurial and financial backgrounds. They already count a number of successful exits and have been critical to the development of the Greek startup ecosystem. I certainly look up to them and have a lot to learn working with them! They have been on the other side and consequently like to be hands-on investors, always with a founder-friendly approach (hence the name VentureFriends ;) ), which completes nicely VF’s value proposition.

How will you be supporting VentureFriends?

I would like to believe that my background in finance and engineering has provided me with a variety of skills, which I can leverage in my current job. Other than the financial and analytical skills, the international experience working in a top tier Bank in London has both formed me and allowed me to shape close relationships with high caliber like-minded individuals. This has already proven helpful in allowing me to start building my network, which is my initial focus now that I joined the Venture Capital world. Through my diversified past experience, what I really learned is to adapt fast and to try to truly excel in whatever I do. I trust that I will do the same here!

What space excites you the most?

The space that excites me the most would be FinTech. I feel close to this space having worked couple of years in banking and through my broader financial experience. Being on the inside and seeing it being transformed with innovative ideas in the many different domains such as banking, payments, and insurance now is a captivating experience. Of course, it is also a very hot sector that definitely still has a lot of growth potential.

What do you like to do in your free time?

This would definitely be sports and traveling. Maybe the combination of the two is the ideal scenario for me. For example, with my friends we travel every year abroad for our mountain skiing trip. Being Greek I also love the sea and I think there not many summer sports I have not tried yet. I like a lot windsurfing, but lately I find wakesurfing a bit more playful. Hopefully, travel will properly resume soon, and I must say I cannot wait for my next trip!

Where would you like to travel next?

There are so many places I want to go. For example, my last trip was in Asia and more specifically in Hong Kong and Taiwan. It was my first time in Asia, and I had a truly amazing time. Now I think the next one could be in Latin America, maybe Mexico or Chile? I like a lot the LatAm culture and way of life. This could also be a nice opportunity to meet the Belvo team (VF investment with operations in Mexico) and get connected with the broader startup ecosystem there which is currently thriving.

Which is your favorite island and why?

This would be the island of Sifnos in Greece. I go there every year and it is usually the last stop of my summer holidays before returning back to work. It is a great opportunity to relax and recharge my batteries. The island is beautiful, and the food is great. More importantly, it has an amazing vibe! Sifnos has been the yearly meeting point with my extended group of friends (some of them have origins from there), and I can’t wait to go there again this year!

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