Yorgos Kleivokiotis is the director and co-founder of KooraBazar.com, a website that sells football merchandise. Hailing from Athens in Greece, the 36-year-old moved to Dubai seven years ago and launched his own business last June.
Describe your financial journey so far.
I arrived in the UAE after completing an MBA degree at Insead business school in France. Luckily, I did not have any loans to repay but neither did I have much savings. I worked for a few years as a strategy manager at a government real estate developer. After losing that job during the financial crisis in 2009, I worked as a strategy director for a marketing communications agency for three-and-a-half years. Throughout this period my job responsibilities and my salary increased, allowing me to save some money. After six years in Dubai working for others, with my partner and the help of several investors, we launched KooraBazar.com, the region’s largest online retailer dedicated to football products. We sell team merchandise and football training gear online to fans around the world.
Why did you decide to set up your own business?
Since my university years I wanted to have a shot at running my own business. I thought I had a good opportunity with KooraBazar.com and it was the right time for me from a maturity, experience and financial perspective.
Are you a spender or saver?
When I was younger I did not save much, but since I came to Dubai I have been saving a lot.
That is the only reason I was able to accumulate enough funds to invest in and start KooraBazar.com. We have investors but I don’t think they would have invested themselves if we had not invested our own money first.
Is money important to you?
Money is important to me to the extent that it allows me to pay for education, security, comfort and healthcare for myself and my loved ones. After these basic needs are covered, then money becomes a lot less important. In the past I have been in situations where I had very little money and I know how that limits your options. I like to have as many options available as possible.
If you win Dh1 million, what would you do with it?
I hardly ever participate in draws or games of luck, so it would be very unlikely that I would win such an amount. However, if I did win Dh1m, I think I would first give 15 per cent of it to charity, either to people I know that really need money or to charity organisations. Of the rest, most would be invested in my company. And then of course I would keep some for a rainy day and to buy a few gifts.
What has been your biggest financial lesson?
The financial crisis has taught me two things. First, there is no real safe investment, be it property, gold or anything else. Second, you need to wait for the right time and to invest for the long term. For example, property prices back home in Greece are now very low because of the financial crisis. I think it is a good time to invest there. It was a very good time to invest in property in Dubai in 2009 and 2010.
What do you enjoy spending money on?
Education and travel. These are the two areas where I think the money spent gets invested back. I like buying books and attending training programmes that give me knowledge and new skills. I like to spend on travel because it opens up my mind to new things. If I had the time I would travel to Brazil in June for the World Cup.