Business gurus have long been advising entrepreneurs to “think globally, act locally.” Iacovos Zachariades took the familiar adage to heart – but an unfamiliar path to success.
When he immigrated to the United States from Cyprus at age 22, Zachariades (M.S., ’95, curriculum and instructional technology) seemed an unlikely candidate to establish Global Reach Internet Productions, an Ames-based web development company.
After receiving his elementary teaching certificate in Cyprus, Zachariades moved to Iowa and spent a year earning the remainder of his bachelor’s degree from Luther College. While there, he decided to take two computer science courses.
As it turned out, the seemingly innocuous decision changed his life. Zachariades discovered an affinity for computers that led him to Iowa State’s curriculum and instructional technology program. He founded Global Reach the same year he graduated with his master’s degree.
In 2000, he committed to Global Reach full time – just before the dot-com bubble burst. Without any collateral, he was unable to secure a loan and racked up $144,000 in credit card debt.
“It was nerve-racking, yes, but I just had to be patient and wait for the [industry] to come around,” Zacharides said. “Eventually it worked out; things starting turning around.”
They turned around to the tune of more than 750 clients and offices in China, South Korea, and Cyprus. But while Global Reach has lived up to its name, its portfolio reveals that the majority of those clients are based in Iowa.
Zachariades, meanwhile, has given back to the community that’s given him its business. In 2009, Global Reach donated more than $40,000 in cash, products, and services to organizations. For its 15th anniversary, the company celebrated by building websites for 15 Ames businesses at no charge.
“It’s worth it to help these organizations,” Zachariades said. “It does the community good, and I like to support it.”
Story by Scott Schrage, Photo by Kara Cipolloni