“That I am here I owe to all the people from Kofola, to my colleagues and the team which pushes Kofola forward along with me. I believe that they will be happy. Thank you, Kofola!,” expressed his direct impressions the winner, Jannis Samaras.
“I believe that Jannis Samaras of Kofola and his entrepreneur story will also appeal to the jury in the world final in Monte Carlo and that he, along with Kofola, will successfully represent entrepreneurs from the Czech Republic,” said Magdalena Souček, the main partner of Ernst & Young in the Czech Republic, adding: “With this contest, we want not only reward successful entrepreneurs, but also support the development of entrepreneurship in our country. Among the nominated, there are both those who started twenty years ago in a car garage, and those who managed to follow traditions and who manage family businesses established a hundred years ago. They have built companies which managed to stand the ground against difficult competitors, but also unique companies which have no competition at all. There are among them both experienced matadors admired by us and well as novices whom we support.”
Jannis Samaras, Kofola S.A.
Jannis Samaras was born in Czechoslovakia, in a Greek family with the spirit of the trade. He regards his father, Kostas, his major model of the entrepreneur. In 1990, he along with three other partners, René Sommer, Tomáš Jendřejk and René Musila, opened business operations and, as he happily emphasises, perfectly fit in.
Kofola is at present one of the most significant producers of beverages in the Central Europe and it employs almost 2,000 people in its seven production plants in four markets. The product portfolio of the company includes a number of Jupi fruit beverages, syrups and concentrates, Top Topic and Vinea beverages, Jupik favoured by children, Rajec spring water or the authentic RC Cola. Last year, Semtex and Erektus power drinks were added when Kofola bought the Pinelli company. Hoop Polska is active in the Polish market, which belongs to the Kofola group. Beverages such as Hoop Cola, Paola and Jarmark Polski syrups or Arctic water are produced here.
In 2008, with expansion into a highly competitive Polish market, the Kofola group made another basic step, acquiring a new investor, Enterprise Investors. However, the majority share of the company remains with the Czech owners. Jannis Samaras sees the future mostly in wise and well thought out innovativeness and acquisitions. What is his recipe for success? Kofola maintains its advantage over the competition, according to him, mostly due to creative marketing and product innovations. He regards important characteristics of the entrepreneur in assuming responsibility, the will to do everything in one’s own individual way, as well as contributing one’s effort into the work to be done. That little free time that he has is mostly reserved for the family. And his personal motto? It is no surprise to anybody that is is the well-known Kofola’s slogan: “When you love it, there are no problems.”
The Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the year 2011 contest is open to any entrepreneur-owner with at least 25% of the initial capital of the company or a co-owner of a registered partnership who has decisive power over its functioning and who has been active in its management. The given company has to be in existence for at least 2 years.
About the Entrepreneur of the Year contest
The Entrepreneur of the Year contest, in which the most successful pioneers in entrepreneurship are selected, was founded by the Ernst & Young company in 1986 in the United States of America. During its existence, it has spread in a number of countries worldwide and now is considered to be the only contest of this type in the world, regularly held in almost 50 countries in six continents. Its objective is to present to the public excellent personal examples in entrepreneurship which may be the model for the young, starting entrepreneurs. The Entrepreneur of the Year contest is international, therefore the criteria according to which individual participants are assessed are comparable in the participating countries.