I am Zoe Koulouris Augustinos, and I moved to Columbus, OH at the beginning of 2020. I joined NAWBO during the summer to develop my network in my new city and meet other women business owners. In 2020 I enjoyed some virtual events, and my goal for 2021 is to become more involved in mentorship and advocacy efforts. I am actively exploring opportunities with round-tables and committees.
Upstate Interactive is a women-owned software consultancy that creates competitive advantages for our clients through blockchain and web-based software solutions. Our goal is to make software engineering projects simple for our clients by translating business needs into user requirements, providing a team of talented and well-trained engineers, and taking an agile and empirical approach to project management.
Our vision is to build a new world of software that enables freedom and trust.
Before founding Upstate Interactive, I worked with tech companies of various sizes in marketing-related roles. I was inspired to pursue software development classes to strengthen my communication with sales and engineering teams on product requirements and timelines.
While studying software engineering, I met my three business partners Kseniya Lifanova, Doug Crescenzi, and Peter Smith. Our team formed around our shared passions related to technology and giving back to the community. We worked together on a web application informally for a startup called Euphony, and the idea of Upstate Interactive was born. My partners, colleagues, and clients continue to inspire me to grow as a leader every day.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to NAWBO leadership and organizers. The members that I have connected with so far have been very welcoming and helpful.
Find your area of expertise and focus on it! A strategy is just as much about what you don’t do as it is about what you do.
Whenever possible, try to work on your business rather than in it.
Set some healthy boundaries between work and personal time. I have been working remotely for over four years. It can be tough to break away from the computer, but I notice an improvement in overall productivity when I do.
Lately, there are many reasons not to trust software applications. A few examples include security breaches, lack of reliable data, and corporate monopolies controlling our online identity. There are also many reasons why we should be thankful for software innovations, especially during a pandemic.
Blockchain technology allows us to build new types of applications that enable trust and make it nearly impossible to misrepresent data. My company is committed to building decentralized applications using blockchain technology and working with partners who want to help this technology mature and become more widely accessible. We believe a shift towards peer-to-peer models will redefine how we manage finance, logistics, and healthcare, among many other fields. The possibilities are endless!
I have been making time for hobbies at home that energize me before or after work. I enjoy fitness activities like yoga and pilates. I also enjoy cooking, guitar, reading, and spending time with my husband.
I have been trying to find a few Covid-friendly activities that support local businesses. My husband and I joined the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. We also have a ski membership at Snow Trails. When we moved from New York to Ohio, I didn’t think I would continue learning how to ski, but I have been enjoying lessons there on the weekends.
I bought the book Traction by Gino Wickman last summer and shared it with my leadership team. The book inspired us to spend more time on our business.
There’s not one book I give most often since they tend to be pretty personalized. I recently gifted a cookbook called Essential Ottolenghi by Yottam Ottolenghi, a book of poetry called The Prophet by Khalil Jibran, and The Internet of Money by Andreas M. Antonopoulos.
I am waiting for my sister to publish her first novel. I know it will be influential to me and anyone else who reads it! In the meanwhile, I’ve been enjoying Bien, Philosophical Poetry by my business partner Peter.
Zoe Koulouris Augustinos
Partner & Cofounder, Upstate Interactive