Mourning the loss of Professor and personal mentor Christos Nikolaou

It’s with great sadness that I received the news of the sudden loss of Professor Christos Nikolaou, following an urgent surgical procedure that he undertook on Wednesday.
 
Words fail me in describing how well respected Christos was, both as a scientist and as an educator.
 
As one of the leading scientists in his field internationally, his arrival to the University of Crete, following his tenure at Harvard and the IBM research labs, led credence to the University and the then young Computer Science department.
 
During his tenure as a Professor and Rector of the University he was a force for change that brought forth great progress despite the hostility of the complacent status quo that culminated in a  badly orchestrated attack by the yellow press.
 
I personally, as well as StartTech and our whole entrepreneurial ecosystem, beginning with Virtual Trip, owe a lot to Christos.
 
Not only because he stood beside us in the most difficult times of the company, by assuming the role of Non Executive Chairman and lending us his support and his reputation when everything seemed to go south and our “friends” had deserted us, but also because he was there in our first, difficult, steps, supporting us with his advice, his contacts, his research collaboration and his encouragement whenever we were on the verge of giving up.
 
My earliest memory of him as a mentor, one that made a great impression on me and informed my future endeavors, was during the first year of the University, when he welcomed us freshmen on behalf of the Computer Science department. Istead of giving us the usual pep talk about our future degree preparing us for a well paid job or for a career in research, Christos simply told us that Forthnet (a tech company and big private sector success), was founded by people from our university, and wished us to “go on and create our own Forthnets”.
 
Those words must have sounded alien to most of my classmates at the time. After all it was long before the crisis, when most students still shared the “Greek dream” of a cosy public sector job. Today though, seeing the modern Greek startup scene, I cannot help but admire how prescient he was, and how ahead of its time was his advice.
 
I could go on an on about what kind of person Christos Nikolaou was. He was first my teacher and mentor, and then, after several years, a very good friend and business partner.
 
Life is short, and time can be unfair.
 
Christos Nikolaou left too early.
 
Even so, he managed to achieve a great many and important things, and to serve as an inspiration for the people around him. He was, indeed, a rare person.
 
For me, he will always be a role model and an example. I hope that our future proves us worthy of the trust that he embraced us with in our most difficult moments.
 
Goodbye dear friend,
 
Dimitris Tsingos
CEO – Vtrip Group