Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou

Founder of Easy Jet

Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who prefers to go by his first name, is a Greek-Cypriot born British entrepreneur and is best known for setting up easyJet, a low-cost airline.

He was educated in Athens and in 1984 continued his education at the London School of Economics. He also graduated from the Cass Business School at City University with an MSc in Shipping, Trade and Finance.

As a serial entrepreneur, he has established more than 17 ventures, the first of which was Stelmar Shipping at the age of 25.

He floated Stelmar Shipping on the NYSE in 2001 and in 2005 it was sold to the OSG Shipping Group for approximately $1.3 Billion.

He is best known for creating easyJet PLC when he was 28. He is often credited as the pioneer who changed the European aviation scene for the benefit of millions of consumers. easyJet PLC was partially floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2000 but he remains the largest single shareholder.

Nowadays, acting through his private investment vehicle, the easyGroup, which owns the easy brand and licenses it to the various easy branded ventures, including the airline, he sees himself more as the manager of the brand and less as a manager of one of the companies. He continues to extend the brand, with mixed success, by creating new easy branded ventures, currently in the travel industry these include: easyCar, easyCruise, easyBus, easyHotel

The businesses outside the travel industry cover areas as diverse as Internet cafés, online price comparison, personal finance, cinema, male toiletries, online recruitment, pizza delivery, music downloads, mobile telephony, and wrist watches!

In November 2006 he received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for services to entrepreneurship.

On the "giving something back" side, he is interested in education for under-privileged students and sustainable development. In 1992 he founded CYMEPA, the Cyprus Marine Environment Protection Association. This is a non-profit making association of ship owners and Cyprus-based business people who believe in sustainable development.

Stelios recently endowed this association with a further gift worth more than $600,000. In 2005 he made a pledge to both his alma mater, the London School of Economics and the City of London Cass Business School, worth £3m for the funding of 100 scholarships over 10 years in each establishment. The students will be known as the Stelios Scholars. In 2006 he established the Disabled Entrepreneur of the Year Award with the disability charity Leonard Cheshire, with £50,000 going to the winner.

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