Leonidas Anastasopoulos founded his first business when he was only 18 years old. Since then, he tried other business areas, learned something from every one of them, and developed his entrepreneurial skills. He moved to Romania, got married to a Romanian woman, and is now the managing partner of real estate development company Alesonor, which develops a residential complex of passive houses near Bucharest.
“<<Why?>> is a very important question. And you’ll be surprised of how many times you’ll not really get an answer. They just tell you: <<This is how the world works>>. Well, it’s the people that don’t accept that this is how the world works that can make the world better.”
This is what Greek investor Leonidas Anastasopoulos strongly believes. He is a very curious man, never too busy for learning new things. However, he must be passionate about a thing to get involved in it. Otherwise, he gets bored. And when he gets bored, he moves on to something more interesting. No regrets, no looking back. However, when he is passionate about something, he is all in.
Leonidas is also very active, and has always been attracted by entrepreneurship. He founded his first business when he was only 18 years old. The company was active in the mobile telephony sector, and he founded it together with his brother. Later, he started a business related to stock brokerage. As he felt like he was not doing something productive, he left that business and moved on.
At some point, he decided to come to Romania. Although he had never been here before, the country was not all foreign to him. He had heard all sort of things about Romania from his father who visited the country in 1993 and was really amazed by it.
“At the moment when the business opportunity came, while discussing with some friends about the real estate market in Romania, somehow I felt like I want to see Romania, because I’d already been told about this country from my father 10-11 years before that. So I came, and I was pleasantly surprised. Somehow, in Greece we had the feeling that Romania was further behind, but when I came here, I found it to be very organized. There were things that I liked like people stopping at the zebra. It is a very small example but is something that we don’t do in Greece,” he recalls.
Once here, he started the real estate development company Alesonor in 2003, together with three other Greek entrepreneurs. The company’s first project was developed in 2005. After several other residential projects on the local market, the four investors decided to get involved in something new and started building a complex of luxury passive houses. The compound, called Amber Gardens, is located in Otopeni, near Bucharest.
Besides being a business opportunity, this project meant more for Leonidas Anastasopoulos: “I like challenges and new ideas, and learn how to make new things, and I also like architecture a lot - more as a hobby. Somehow, through this business, I am active in that area.”
Although it was a big challenge to develop a green luxury project in Romania, as people were saying that Romanians were not yet asking for passive houses, the Greek investor saw the opportunity and started learning more about the concept of passive houses. And as it turns out, Romanians are interested in this green project. 12 houses were already sold, and some of the first buyers already moved in the complex. The project is still ongoing, and it will have a total of 60 houses when completed. There will also be tennis and basketball courts, and playgrounds for children.
“I like to do something that I consider to be an improvement to other peoples’ lives. I like efficiency very much in everything that I am doing. For example these houses: they are energy efficient, comfortable and healthy. The main drive was to offer something that didn’t exist,” he says.
One can easily see how passionate he is about this project. He knows every little detail of a house and is very keen on explaining what a passive house is, how it works, and what its features are, to whoever wants to know more.
“The passive house concept means that the house consumes a very low amount of energy for heating and cooling. It’s called passive because theoretically you can stay in the house without using any external source. It wouldn’t be very comfortable because the average temperature that you would keep in the house would be 17-18 degrees Celsius, but imagine having this temperature all year around, no matter the season,” he says. In the summer, the temperature could be around 26 degrees Celsius.
He likes speaking about the different heating system of the house, how one can control the temperature inside just by using a smartphone, about the photovoltaic and solar panels used for the electricity and water, and about the device that always brings fresh air inside the house. He takes every aspect of a passive house and explains it with patience and enthusiasm.
His passion for gadgets is also easily noticeable: Leonidas wears a smartwatch and has an iPad on his desk. And that somehow explains the technology one can find in such a passive house.
Passion, curiosity and positivity. These are, as he says, the three words that describe Leonidas Anastasopoulos the best.
After getting involved in many things and businesses, Leonidas also learned that luck and timing are two factors that should be taken into consideration.
“I think I’ve learned many lessons. I would say that timing and luck are the two things that you can’t really control. Everything else, you can work hard and manage it,” he says.
“I think that accepting the fact that there is a correct time for everything, and there is a factor called luck, are quite important in order not to get disappointed if something doesn’t go well. Even if you feel that you’ve done everything that you could do, it could still go wrong.”
Leonidas enjoys living in Romania. He considers that things are going in a good direction, at a quite fast pace, and that Bucharest is evolving. For example, as he likes to go by bike at the office and at meetings, he can see that the bike infrastructure in Bucharest is developing.
“Things are far from perfect, but they are improving by the day,” he says.
When it comes to what he found difficult to get used to in Romania, that would be the large quantities of snow during winter. For a person who grew up in Athens, the long winters in Romania were a big change.
“Where I am coming from, there is snow for like five days. Everything stops, nothing works for five days, but then we have no more snow. Apparently you can’t do that for five months when you have snow,” he says amused.
Irina Popescu, [email protected]