Tolis Aivalis is a trailblazer, transforming the education landscape with his disruptive vision and pioneering leadership. In his role as the CEO of Knowcrunch, he ensures the creation of comprehensive courses that empower individuals to find their career footing and make a mark in their chosen fields.
Since a young age, Tolis has demonstrated a visionary mindset, and he has always believed in being a leader, pioneer, and a change agent rather than being a mere follower. “My mantra is Lead, never follow,” Tolis says.
Making It the Core Business
More than a decade ago, when he was working in the field of digital marketing as a service in Silicon Valley, Tolis realized that one cannot sell marketing services to people who do not understand marketing. This realization led him to launch Knowcrunch.com. He started it as a side business.
Once he landed a successful exit for his digital marketing agency, he devoted all his time and efforts to the newly founded company. “Knowcrunch.com and training became my core business,” he says.
Currently, as the CEO of Knowcrunch.com, Tolis consistently thinks about how to create new courses that can solve problems that exist in the market and how they can serve their customers better. He also thinks about ways to inspire his team or future teams so that they can offer their effective support and assist him in achieving his goals.
Knowcrunch, founded in 2010, offers marketing and digital marketing training online as video-on-demand courses. Its focus is on helping people gain the knowledge that could be immediately leveraged to excel in their field of work. “This is why Knowcrunch is the best digital marketing education platform for students, executives, and entrepreneurs,” Tolis points out.
Under his exemplary leadership, Knowcrunch has garnered unparalleled acclaim for itself in the digital marketing training space, securing more than 14 prestigious awards for its comprehensive and cutting-edge educational programs. Tolis informs that every year, they get an average of 5 international awards, which underscores the high quality of their education programs.
“Our value proposition: our education is not a generic overview, but a step-by-step practical training made by C-level executives who are operating within the industry, not academics,” he adds. “Our graduates are plug-and-play executives.”
The company’s mission statement is: “learn, transform, thrive.” When students enroll in its courses, they acquire a comprehensive understanding of all the tools essential for success in their relevant markets. In addition, Knowcrunch also supports businesses by empowering their employees with the necessary soft skills. According to Tolis, they teach effective strategies that enable employees to drive successful implementation in the real world. His and his team’s focus is on how to generate results.
Knowcrunch is currently in the process of becoming a leading player in its original turf – in the U.S., where it was founded. Tolis says that they intend to penetrate the U.S. market and quickly become a leader in the best digital marketing education and training space in the country.
“We will do that by launching all of our award-winning courses in the U.S.,” he adds.
Generating Value for Others
Both as a person and a professional, Tolis understands the importance of value. So, he strives to focus on how to “generate value for others” and not on how to make money or scale a business that does not generate any value.
“I believe in value,” he says. “Value will bring customers, and value will generate revenue as well.”
He also stresses the importance of understanding the pain points of customers and channeling efforts into how to solve them. “This is something that governs my business model as well as my team’s work,” Tolis says.
He explains that they believe in generating value for their students, and they give them things that they need. After that, Tolis and his team follow up with them so that they can help them transform. They also provide students with the best opportunities throughout their journey to success, enabling them to excel and ultimately thrive.
The Professional Journey
Prior to Knowcrunch, Tolis worked in media publishing, advertising, gaming, and other industries. He launched a web design agency, which, according to him, marked the beginning of his career.
He points out that in a media publishing company, he served as a commercial director, while he worked as a digital marketer in advertising. In a gaming company, he held the position of CEO; and for Olympics, he worked as a digital director.
Tolis was not a first-time founder when he launched Knowcrunch. Before that, he had successfully launched two different digital marketing agencies. He also worked as an adjunct lecturer in 10 different universities, teaching digital marketing to students enrolled in Master’s degrees. This experience helped him when he was developing Knowcrunch’s educational programs.
“While these positions, I could see the value of hands-on education,” Tolis says.
His professional journey has taught him when to focus on taking the lead, being a pioneer, or when to wait and observe what is happening. He has also learned to disrupt an industry only when the market has matured.
Tolis explains that when people are young, they become pioneers. They tend to do everything just because they can, and they have the time and strength. They are also eager to explore – this is how they get to learn. Once they have passed that stage, their focus shifts, Tolis says, adding they begin to carefully choose where to divert their strength and time. He is now completely focused on shaping the future of students by providing them with the best educational programs through Knowcrunch.
Community of Biggest Advocates
For Tolis, it has not been difficult to thrive as a leader in the education industry. He disrupted the traditional education space by offering hands-on marketing and digital marketing education to people. He points out that he managed to become a market leader in two different countries – where the market was dominated by universities – within a year. “It was a big shock for me to see how easy it was to disrupt a well-established market – just because you offer great value,” Tolis says.
“My secret was that when I managed to become a market leader I did not stop to innovate and did not stop providing value to my students,” he adds. “My focus was and still is to follow up and help them thrive.” This way he has managed to create a community of graduates who are now his biggest advocates. Glowing testimonials provided by them encourage other students to enroll in Knowcrunch’s courses.
Over the years, Knowcrunch has won several awards in the best education and the best e-learning education categories. Tolis acknowledges the importance of these awards, but for him, they do not signify his excellence in the field. He considers his best recognition to be when he meets his graduates.
“They all love what we do, they all feel we helped them with their career, and they all want to be part of this and give back,” Tolis says “When your customers become your advocates, you get the best recognition as a leader.”
For leaders, the path to success is dotted with failures. It was no different for Tolis. He, too, experienced setbacks, but he never thought of taking a different path because of that. It is because he firmly believes that failures make one stronger.
“Every challenge you face could be your next big thing, but most of the time (99%), it is a big fat failure,” Tolis points out. “I learned to embrace that.” He considers his failures his strength and sees roadblocks as an opportunity to learn. He says that they teach one how to bypass them and how to invent ways to deal with pain and failure. One also learns valuable lessons because of that, according to him.
“Wise people are not the ones who do not fail. They are the ones who learn from their failures,” Tolis says.
Sharing to Keep Team Motivated
Sharing is the key to Tolis’s success as the leader of his team. It has helped create a culture of teamwork and collaboration, and it also keeps his team highly motivated. He shares with them the remuneration he gets as well as his power and fame.
Tolis points out that when he shares his remuneration, fame, and power, his team gets motivated to give their best because they feel that they are valued, appreciated, and truly belong to something bigger.
Currently, Tolis is completely dedicated to his work and is unable to maintain a work-life balance. He does not regret that, as for him, Knowcrunch is his priority. He is willing to bear the cost of a poor work-life balance as long as he loves what he does.
Message to Aspiring Leaders
In a message, Tolis encourages aspiring leaders to help create better versions of themselves.
“Help people become something big, inspire them to become better than you,” he says. “I believe leaders should do that, even if that means that you create your competition.”