The Born Entrepreneur
Venetia Kontogouris, LA’74
At the age of 12, Athens-born Venetia Kontogouris was already exhibiting the individuality of a convention-bucking entrepreneur. Flouting her family’s traditional expectations for women, she declared that she would forge her own career path.
Forge, she has. Today, Kontogouris is a veteran information-technology venture capitalist; the founder, most recently, of Venkon Group, LLC; a Northeastern trustee; and part of a tradition of alumni innovators and entrepreneurs.
Attending Northeastern in the early ’70s, she saw herself as an outlier, yet she found her niche by inventing her own co-ops and savoring the buffet of career options. Her astute observations on American culture taught her the value of being nimble—and open.
“Any human being with exposure to different cultures develops skills you cannot get by being accustomed to a single way of life,” she says.
After earning an MBA from the University of Chicago, Kontogouris rose through the ranks at IBM and Dun & Bradstreet. Executive positions in new-venture firms followed. At Trident Capital, she co-managed more than $1.7 billion in early-stage investments.
Like every born entrepreneur, Kontogouris seeks to be first to a new opportunity. She was exploring the IT industry in India well ahead of that country’s emergence as an economic giant. Today, she remains resolutely committed to advancing global partnerships.
In the midst of Greece’s financial crisis, Kontogouris and husband Zoran Djokic sharpened their focus on her native country. They established the Kontogouris-Djokic Scholarship at Northeastern with a gift of $1 million in 2012. Kontogouris hopes the entrepreneurial Greek students her family supports will return to Greece to build a stronger, more diversified economy.
“I believe in our youth,” she says, “because they look at the world very differently—and that’s an enormous opportunity for new enterprises to create jobs and new possibilities.”