When the Greeks see the Freddoccino ad featuring the redheaded girl in the polka-dot swimsuit and the red shoes enjoying a Freddoccino, they automatically think of the iced coffee-based drink that was first released in Greece in 2002. However, few people know that the inventor of this drink is Greek entrepreneur, Kostis Zompanakis.
Kostis Zompanakis is the son of influential Greek banker, Minoas Zompanakis. Although his roots are from Crete, Zompanakis was born in Rome and for many years lived in London and in the U.S. Unlike his father, he wasn’t interested in economics. He graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor in Political Science and a masters in International Relations. After his graduation he worked for six months in Barclays banking company and then had a successful career as a journalist in the economic magazine Economist. His dream career however, was to work in the food and beverage industry.
His greatest success in this sector was the discovery of the iced coffee-based drink Freddoccino and his collaboration with the Swiss multinational food and beverage company Nestlé.
His involvement with the food industry began in England, where he was the distributor of the Italian coffee brand Segafredo. After a while he realized that the espresso coffee was extremely popular in England and in the ’90s he founded the coffee and food trade company, MAKAN, in order to promote the espresso coffee in Greece and in other countries.
After several years of a successful career in the coffee trade market and influenced by the American trend of iced beverages known as frappe products, he decided to create a new drink. With the help of his friend and future business partner, Stelios Xenakis, who was very well aware of the American trends and taste, they created two recipes of an iced drink, based on the American model but simultaneously adapting to the Greek culture. By blending coffee powder, sugar and cocoa powder in a slush machine, they created the refreshing beverage Freddoccino, originally released in two flavors, coffee and mocha and gradually promoted it to the market.
The success of Freddoccino in the Greek market was such that 30 percent of the company’s earnings were earned because of it. Moreover, the multinational company Nestlé, which was interested in entering the food market with a new successful product, became interested in Freddoccino. Zompanakis didn’t miss the opportunity to further promote his product and by signing a successful business deal. In 2008 he sold his company and the Freddoccino patent to Nestlé.
Zompanakis then became a successful businessman in Crete. With a strong interested in basketball and sports, he added to his many endeavors by becoming a major shareholder of the basketball team of Rethymnon, Crete. As for the future, one of the entrepreneur’s goals is to promote and export Cretan food products to the rest of Greece and to foreign markets.