CNN recently profiled Greek success stories helping get the country out of its economic and financial crisis. In addition to featuring Greek-based success stories, the story featured Manos Sifakis, CEO and founder of Customedialabs, an interactive media agency based in Philadelphia that has a Greece-based work force and a global client base that includes the likes of Exxon and Johnson & Johnson.
CNN called Manos Sifakis “another example of the Greek renaissance.”
The Larissa native started his multimedia marketing company Customedialabs as a part-time, one-man operation during compulsory Greek army service in 2000. He left Greece to study in the UK where he earned his degree in computer systems engineering, a degree that combines electrical engineering and software engineering, from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology.
Working for clients based around the world, Sifakis already had a network of customers by the time he finished his service, and launched his company.
Since then, Customedialabs has become an international agency with offices on two continents and high-profile international clients including Johnson & Johnson, ING and Exxon Mobile.
Sifakis is now based in Philadelphia, after following his American wife Maria whom he met at college back to the U.S. He runs the agency from Pennsylvania, although most of his 60 employees are based in the Greek city of Larissa, where he is originally from— ironically, not a center of computer technology but an agricultural center.
“Truthfully, if I didn’t have Greece, I wouldn’t be in business,” Sifakis says. And it’s not cost which keeps him tapping his homeland. “There are many places around the world with talented workforce that would be more cost-effective. The number one advantage is the loyalty. My most loyal talent is in Greece. I have people there who have been working for me for many years.”
He hopes to hire as many young Greeks as possible. “Greece can be successful if you find people who can inspire and lead the change,” Sifakis told CNN.
He also hopes to expand his mission to more businesspeople who are in a position to help Greece. He’s preparing to launch an initiative to encourage fellow American CEOs to invest in Greece in the way he has— by opening business outposts in the country and not only taking advantage of the existing unemployed but highly skilled workforce, but to encourage more Greeks to return to their homeland.
“I want to reverse the brain drain and make it a brain gain,” Sifakis said in a phone interview with The Pappas Post.