Meet Demos Demetriou – Co-founder of blazon. Its mission is to Help Startups Grow. Demos has built many startups over the years, some have failed and others have succeeded. During this journey, his experiences have enabled me to build a company with his Co-founder Nargis Jafferali that provides exceptional service to founders who are building their startup and providing them with support in many areas including Marketing, App Development, Website Design and Investment.
It doesn’t stop there, their combined experience covers over 30 years in business which they draw upon to help advise, motivate and ultimately help a founding team grow their startup. Demos has always supported startups and believes that everyone should experience being a founder.
“The experience will teach you things about yourself and others that you could never imagine. The journey can be lonely and often the highs and lows can be a rollercoaster ride. It’s why startups trust us to work with them to help them overcome all of these challenges and build a successful venture.”
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Demos Demetriou: My name is Demos Demetriou and I’m the Co-founder of blazon. I’ve built many startups over my business career, some have failed and some have succeeded but the failures have taught me a lot about myself and also been a catalyst for new ventures.
I’m a true advocate for startups and believe that everyone should start at least one business in their life because the challenges, highs and lows can push you as an individual to adapt and do things you never thought were possible. Our most recent venture blazon was born out of the frustration with a previous startup of not being able to find a suitable social media agency that could work within the budgets and constantly changing world of a startup. Our initial focus was helping startups with their marketing but we have since developed a service that encompasses app development, web design and investment. Ultimately all of the services we provide are aimed at helping any startup we work with to grow, so that we can also grow with them.
2020 and 2021 threw a lot of curve balls into business on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past couple years, how can businesses thrive in 2022? What lessons have you learned?
Demos Demetriou: Businesses need to plan for all eventualities more than ever and this has been magnified in the last couple of years. They also need to be nimble and be early adopters of technology that will help their businesses. We were fortunate enough to be a remote team one year before the pandemic hit and so we were already using all the tools available to streamline our entire operation. The pandemic showed us how quickly things can change and although a business can’t foresee every problem outside of its control it should certainly think outside the box and paint that worst-case scenario. This type of thinking can often generate new ideas that will allow a business to thrive.
The pandemic seems to keep on disrupting the economy, what should businesses focus on in 2022? What advice would you share?
Demos Demetriou: If it’s not the pandemic it will be something else. At the time of this interview, Russia has invaded Ukraine and it’s being felt worldwide. There’s no doubt it will affect some businesses more than others. Businesses have to innovate and work with a team that is all pushing in the same direction, and is capable of reacting well to the changes that are thrust upon them. I believe that the right team can find a solution to any business problem. There will always be disruptions but ensuring you and your team are putting your customers, product/service first then no matter what the disruption you will have a following.
How has the pandemic changed your industry and how have you adapted?
Demos Demetriou: We work with startups so the pandemic forced them to be smarter with their marketing and think outside the box to get their brand noticed with so much online activity. To some startups the pandemic caused them to fail but others have thrived. We have been fortunate to be on the right side of the pandemic and the move to more virtual calls allowed us to hire our team quicker and with all the tools we use are able to have them located all over the UK.
Working with a remote team scattered over the UK means we are always looking to do things better that our team will benefit from. From fun team meetings and flexible working to investing in the best systems to ensure our team can enjoy their work and work to their full potential.
What advice do you wish you received when the pandemic started and what do you intend on improving in 2022?
Demos Demetriou: I actually received some very good advice when it all started from an experienced businessman. He suggested not spending too much time focusing on the pandemic because it’s out of our control and it could last a lot longer than many people think (how right he was!). He advised me to focus on the business, the team and our clients because that is the thing that ultimately we can control.
We helped the startups we were working with at the time as much as we possibly could, going over and above during such a difficult time. It meant we could do more to support their online exposure and their overall growth – and for us, it meant we could create a good reputation, expand our client base and improve our service offering. In essence, having a more concentrated focus on the business at a time when there were so much confusion and anxiety in the world, meant that we’ve been to build a better brand and have good early traction.
We will continue to go over and above for all of the startup teams and founders we work with for 2022 and beyond, and continue to build on this foundation.
Online business surged higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for 2022?
Demos Demetriou: I expect most of these things will continue growing for some time yet because they are a huge improvement on the previous way of working. Whatever sector or industry you’re working in, there has been a shift to an online model.
It’s been brewing for some time, in certain areas, but the pandemic just fast-tracked this growth even more. It’s just opened a wealth more opportunity to the way people can work, and the way in which they can deliver their business. The world has opened up even further, and offered more flexibility, more options, and ultimately made a lot more processes far more streamlined. Remote working may change slightly as more offices use a hybrid model but it really depends on their business sector. For many, having the choice in how they work is a game-changer. If anything, having a forced work-from-home model for this long has shown companies that the remote-working model does work and employees can be productive.
Even if companies choose a hybrid model, it’s a step in the right direction to offering more flexible working options. The virtual model is not going anywhere, and I predict that it will only get more advanced and more improved as time goes on.
How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen?
Demos Demetriou: At least 12! It’s far more than I would like but I do try my best all through the day to get away from it to recharge a little. The issue is that so much of my own day relies on being in front of a screen, even when I’m not working. Downtime, communication, even watching Netflix, it all comes back to a screen, and it can sometimes be quite exhausting. It’s a work in progress for sure, but I am trying to be more and more disciplined about taking breaks, getting outside, and generally reducing my screen-time as much as possible. However, for a busy founder, it really is a challenge.
The majority of executives use stories to persuade and communicate in the workplace. Can you share with our readers examples of how you implement that in your business to communicate effectively with your team?
Demos Demetriou: We regularly use stories of startups that we have worked with or have spoken to and share their journeys with our team.
It’s a good way for them to understand what is going on in the industry and the particular startup we’re working with and always sparks a discussion that comes back to how we can improve our own business in all areas. I’ve always favoured a transparent approach to business throughout my life, and believe that being honest and open with your team is paramount in running a successful company. We always talk about developments in the business, good or bad, and it’s these open discussions that help build trust and unite everyone. Top-down management has never appealed to me, so we always encourage a collaborative style within the team and remind everyone that their input is extremely valuable. There’s no such thing as a bad idea, absolutely not!
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Demos Demetriou: Business today is more competitive than it has ever been, although there are also more opportunities than ever. It means that standing out from your competitors and growing quickly to become established is the biggest challenge.
There is so much noise online and the rise of social media has meant that the world has become a much smaller place. Anyone can post anything. And in a second, your insights can travel the globe and cause a reaction to someone miles away from you. That speed and that simplicity means that to make an impression is really hard. There are also more startups today than ever before, and this surge in entrepreneurship is great for innovation but terrible for competition. It just makes the arena so much tighter and harder to succeed.
However, I’ve always believed that competition is no bad thing, and it’s a healthy indication that there’s potential in your sector. Yes it’s tougher now to get your individual business off the ground and succeed against the others, but there’s never been a better time to do it.
In 2022, what are you most interested in learning about? Crypto, NFTs, online marketing, or any other skill sets? Please share your motivations.
Demos Demetriou: All of the above! I have a curious mind and like to learn as much as possible to see how that can be incorporated into our business and have a better understanding of the startups that we work with and how these new skills can help them too. My downtime (if there ever is such a thing!) usually consists of keeping up with business news, tech developments and things going on in startup land.
It’s good to keep your eyes and ears open to what’s going on around you and I find it sparks a huge amount of creativity within me and my team. If there is a way we can adopt something new into what we’re doing, then it’s a massive competitive advantage, and the same goes for our clients too. We may even be able to get ahead of the game and have a head-start. Society and technology is moving at such speed, that I love to find out what’s happening next and how others are reacting to change.
A record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September in 2021, accelerating a trend that has become known as the Great Resignation. 47% of people plan to leave their job during 2022. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. Do you think leaders see the data and think “that’s not me – I’m not that boss they don’t want to work for? What changes do you think need to happen?
Demos Demetriou: There could be many bosses who are not even aware of the culture which is why they may say that. Company culture should be across the whole team from bottom to top. No matter how large a business becomes if you are listening to your team you will be able to create the best environment for them to be heard and look forward to working with your company.
I think there has to be more transparency within businesses too, your team need to know the good, bad and ugly in the business because they will understand what the business is going through and will always help to find the solutions and ultimately feel part of the team. I’ve always made it my priority to regularly check in with every member of my team, and ensure that everyone is happy. It’s really important as a manager (at any level) to foster a working environment where everyone feels comfortable enough to voice concerns, or be open about issues, or share feedback (good or bad) – and I’ve found over the years that having an open, comfortable line of communication really works.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Demos Demetriou: I wouldn’t! I would stick to being honest, transparent and work hard with integrity. I think those qualities when put together with the right people can create a superpower.
What does “success” in 2022 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Demos Demetriou: Ensuring that our team love working in their roles and continue to grow with us. That will then show in the work we do with the startups we work with and those results will push those startups to greater heights. We know how hard it is to build a business in this climate so if we can help as many of those startups as possible then that is success for all of us.
Jerome Knyszewski, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Demos Demetriou for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Demos Demetriou or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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