Valentinos started his very own mobile app startup and developed it all by himself at the age of 18. Magazines such as Forbes say that he has the ‘mark of a true entrepreneur’.
He is a proud awardee of the 25Under25 title of the Internet Society organization. Valentinos has talked numerous times at the Greek Parliament, the European Parliament, South by SouthWest, London School of Economics and various entrepreneurship events all around the world.
Now, at the age of 20, Valentinos created the angel-invested FightHoax, in order to reduce the mass misinformation spread and empower news analysis and data journalism with Artificial Intelligence and Big Data.
MEET THE FOUNDER & CEO OF FIGHTHOAX.COM
1. How you came up with the business idea for FightHoax.com?
The US elections got the world shaken up. Hoaxes started to emerge from everywhere. Macedonian teenagers started their own fake news outlet and earned thousands from it. We hit all-time high records so I was really disturbed by all these hoaxes and fake facts.
People tend to believe anything nowadays.
So, one day I sat down and said to myself:
“Can I create something that analyses what you are reading and extracts the important points to the user?”
“Can I build an automated algorithm to answer if what you are reading is real or just false?”
At first, it seemed really-really impossible. Even humans can’t agree on what is false or true. But I realized that machines with no feelings can judge some aspects better than humans. For example, what if the website which is hosting the news article has a suspicious history and is known for posting fake news? Human tend to ignore hoaxes that agree with their own beliefs.
2. Tell us the first three things you’ve done to turn the idea into facts.
First, I locked myself in my house for more than 13 days, just to fix a bug. At first, I talked to more than 100 journalists, fact checkers, developers and academic teachers just to ask them questions about media literacy, fake news, propaganda and more.
Work, work, work.
3. Name one situation that made you want to quit.
As I had described before, one single bug made me go nuts and stay in the house for more than 13 consecutive days. It was crazy. I get obsessed with things like this!
4. Name one situation that made you want to go forward.
My girlfriend. I have hidden a comment in my code that’s just about her, to remind her the help she gave me.
5. What do you think are the most difficult challenges entrepreneurs have to face on greek market nowadays?
Misery. Misery is a lot worse than poverty and I can’t really stand it. Most of the people have given up on fighting for a better future, here in Greece. It is time to change that!
6. Investment matters. If you would invest in something else but your actual business. What would that be?
I would invest in people with great attitude and big goals in life. I am going for the long-term goals in my life.
7. What is FightHoax.com bringing to the mobile development market, that is different compared its competitors?
FactMata is a cross-checking algorithm that it can ONLY verify statistical/numerical facts. Static databases and community users manually score facts. Wikitribune is like Factmata but without the tech element. Community users and journalists manually verify news stories.
FightHoax is the only startup doing full News Analysis and can detect fake news articles with an accuracy of 89%. Any article, any fact. We provide a rounded perspective, not a fake. Imagine that in Google’s hands.
MEET THE MAN #BEHINDTHESUIT
1. Name one good habit that helps you deal with your active life.
Listening to music for hours. I have to spend a lot of hours on my own just to meditate and talk to myself. In this way, I keep myself focused and I “clean” the bad thoughts.
2. Name one bad habit you can’t quit.
I eat a lot of fast-food. On the other hand, I do love walking, swimming, skiing and playing tennis but I need to hit the gym, too.
3. If you could be anything else but an entrepreneur what would you be?
I would love to be an artist and a musician but just for myself. I love expressing myself, deeply.
4. You are the founder of FightHoax.com, what is the favourite movie of the man who founded it?
A beautiful mind. I really love movies inspired by real-life scenarios of genius people that wrote history.
5. Tell us your favourite book. What’s the best thing you learned from it?
The first book that I have ever read was a book about hacking called “XSS Attacks“. It completely changed my view of the Internet, back when I was just 15.
6. Name the most important value that you believe in.
In a company, your business partners come first. They have to be happy in order to feel happy on your own.
7. If you could compare your journey as an entrepreneur with a song what song would you choose?
8. Tell us the best experience you had while working to build FightHoax.com.
Working with a great team is the best part of being in business. I was lucky enough to find great partners to work with me and every meeting or beer is just priceless.
9. If you would give our readers one piece of advice from your entrepreneurial experience, what would that advice be?
Get ready to risk everything, stand on your own and become homesick. It is an interesting journey that many do not get through these obstacles.