Dr Vasilis Theoharakis proves that tech start-up deals don’t always happen in Silicon Valley.
As director of the MBA, Vasilis hasn’t only built up an exceptional programme of experiential learning for students – he’s putting the relevant skills and theory into practice. A recent article by leading industry news site TechCrunch covered the sale of text-to-speech start-up Innoetics for whom Vasilis created the advisory board – he also managed part of the negotiation with buyer Samsung.
Innoetics’ product is ideally suited for application on intelligent interfaces, such as Samsung’s Bixby which works much like Siri on Apple products, or across other consumer electronic products and voice-powered services.
After starting his career in tech at IBM, Vasilis is now involved with a number of start-ups and does have links in Silicon Valley. He is a member of the management team at a prominent venture capitalist fund which provides seed money for the sector and passes his knowledge on to Sheffield’s MBA students who frequently interact with businesses and entrepreneurs through modules or the Career Accelerator Programme and Leadership Dinners. He said: “My experiences with companies like Innoetics ensure that I’m still at the sharp-end of business so our MBAs benefit from a realistic, up-to-date view of entrepreneurship and the start-up eco system.
“I make sure that our students put these learned skills into practice through the programme – it’s exciting to see their knowledge and abilities develop in this area via modules such as the New Venture Planning Challenge.”
This project-based core module, delivered in the second semester of the MBA, sees students work in groups to create a business plan and pitch it to a team of investors. Each team is mentored throughout by Vasilis, who guides them on selecting an entrepreneurial idea which leads into a comprehensive, fully-researched plan and presentation.
Vasilis concluded: “Entrepreneurship is one of the three key stands of our MBA programme – alongside leadership and consultancy. It’s a key skill, whether within an organisation or setting up on your own. I’m proud of what our MBAs go on to achieve and that my experience has contributed to their future.”