“And that’s how I became my own partner for the practical phase”
He founded a company at age 20 – while still pursuing the dual studies at the IUBH. This is how Christos Papadopoulos started his own business.
Christos Papadopoulos always wanted to be self-employed: At age 16, he repaired computers for his neighbours, and at 18 he registered a small business for text and video productions. For his university-entrance qualification he wanted to develop his own IT service company, but over time he found more pleasure in the areas of online marketing and web design.
Ultimately he decided to do a degree first: So he enroled in the dual Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing Management at IUBH in Düsseldorf. “At first I wanted to complete my dual studies with another company, before I took the step to becoming self-employed”, recalls Papadopoulos. “But then I decided to start my own business during my studies.”
Company founding with the support of the IUBH and family
He was supported from the very beginning by Sabine Walther-Eising, head of the IUBH Düsseldorf location, and student advisers. “Everyone helped me a lot when it came to ensuring my self-employment and studies progressed,” says Papadopoulos. Despite initial scepticism, many friends and family members were at his side, so Christos quit the practical phase at a different company and founded his advertising agency AWEOS at age 20. “And that’s how I became my own partner for the practical phase”
AWEOS is a full-service advertising agency in Solingen. It offers companies the full package in terms of marketing, including delivery of advertisements, web design, search engine optimisation, social media marketing, video productions, design and printing of print media and much more. “We stand out especially because of our technical expertise. We’re real experts in WordPress-based website development”, says Papadopoulos proudly.
Learning from mistakes
Initially, the double burden of studies and self-employment led to lower grades. But Christos got things under control and organised himself better: He used the time during the lecture period more effectively, so he needed to study less for his exams and could use the time saved for his advertising agency.
“I started my self-employment with a pretty naive picture, so there were of course some challenges at the beginning. For example, I didn’t budget the initial revenue right and then had to bridge a few difficult months. But that never happened again”, he recalls. He is especially thankful to his mentor Dirk Rüttgers, a financial broker from Solingen, with whom he initially shared an office. “He showed me how to handle money and how best to manage the company’s cash flow.”
Further development and growth for the future
Currently, AWEOS has 18 employees, of which five are dual-studies students at IUBH Düsseldorf. “The weekly change is particularly positive, which means our students are never absent from the business for too long. Since I’ve been through the programme myself, I also know what to expect. I can help them better understand and apply the material from the lectures”, says Christos about the benefits. “I use what I learned in my studies every day.”
And what is the young entrepreneur planning for the future? First he wants to further optimise internal processes. To this end, the company is currently developing its own learning platform for employee training and a web application that simplifies many of the workflows. Over the next few years, the team will continue to grow and so will the portfolio of services.
“If you want to start your own business, I recommend really looking carefully at your plans first. Is there a need for what I want to offer? How strong is the competition? The courses at the IHK can be very instructive here. It’s something I unfortunately didn’t do, but I would recommend it.