Rajczyk on discovering life’s new meaning

Since then, he has invested in restaurants and bars in Limassol, in the restoration of landmark buildings in the city’s old town, and in a few tech companies. He also sits on the board of Apollon FC, where he was recently made General Manager of the club’s academies. Here, we pull together the threads connecting football and entrepreneurship, building wealth, and the hidden advantages of slowing down.

“Getting passed over for a promotion was the best thing that happened to me,” recalls Moshe Hiko Rajczyk in his quiet office, the windows of which are, fortunately, thick enough to block the cacophony of the 2.00pm Limassol rush hour.

As I look around the office, I can see that this is a man who has clearly had a lot more than business on his mind. There are portraits of the Dalai Lama and Martin Luther King wearing colourful, patterned shirts, accessories and hats. A misguided attempt to bridge past and present? In one corner hang the red jerseys of Southampton FC and Liverpool FC, while books translated into Hebrew are meticulously arranged atop every piece of furniture. Through the prism of an hour-long conversation, I conclude that Rajczyk is a mesmerising blend of discipline, vigour, geniality and business acuity.

For his first entrepreneurial attempt, he co-founded IbexNetwork, an affiliated network company targeting the gambling industry. It didn’t take long for him to discover that adapting to the unique demands of entrepreneurship was akin to breaking your fall with your hands; it was all about instinctively reacting to a world that moved as if there was no tomorrow. As the company grew into the new kid on the block that everybody was talking about. Rajczyk felt that he was king of the world and nothing he did could go wrong. But, as most successful entrepreneurs will admit, a fall from grace is par for the course. After going strong for a few years, the company shrunk to a core of a few key people and he stepped down, with failure ringing in his ears. “My first failure was a very humbling but important experience since, without it, I wouldn’t be here today,” he says.

That initial failure didn’t keep him down for long and, in 2016, he founded Yomora Media. In the nascent throes of the startup, with funds constrained, he set up shop in the bustling confines of WeWork’s communal offices in Tel Aviv. Every day, he entered the sprawling space, indulged in a morning coffee, and succumbed to the obligatory 40 minutes of fatigue-inducing small talk. The relentless cadence of the tech world and his youthfulness thwarted any efforts to meticulously orchestrate and capture time’s elusive flow. Nonetheless, like a lot of entrepreneurs in Israel – indeed, all around the world – Rajczyk began to entertain the idea of moving the startup in search of greener pastures. He doesn’t mince his words about the reason why he chose Cyprus: it was all about the tax regime. In 2018, he made the move – which was never meant to be permanent. In this, he is not alone: “It’s a funny thing,” he says, “When I ask other Israelis who moved to Cyprus how much longer they plan to stay, they all say that they’ve stopped counting! They’re not interested in leaving anymore.”

During the first year of his relocation to the unfamiliar island of Cyprus, he grappled with the arduous task of acclimatising and, devoid of local connections, found himself confined to the insular enclaves of fellow Israelis. However, daily routines like escorting his daughter to kindergarten, where he engaged with other parents, and his proclivity for genuine human encounters, ignited sparks of camaraderie. Meanwhile, he began to fear that the languid rhythms of Cypriot life and business (perfectly encapsulated by the local phrase “siga-siga” – slowly, slowly) that stood in stark juxtaposition with the hustling ethos of Tel Aviv might corrode his drive. Yet, quite unexpectedly, the island’s unhurried pace bestowed a newfound clarity upon him. No longer captive in the frenzy of running and reacting, he was able to tread a more deliberate path, taking calculated strides toward his goals. After three years, Rajczyk finally felt embraced. “Now,” he says “most of my friends are Cypriots. Every day, I wake up with a smile on my face; there’s no reason for me to move away.” During this time, Yomora Media has grown to employ some 100 people across three countries – Cyprus, Germany and Bulgaria – serving a varied portfolio of clients that includes the Forex industry (another reason for moving the company to Limassol, which is still a hotbed of Forex activity), the wider financial services industry and regulated gambling companies.

“So, what do you need to successfully build wealth as an entrepreneur?” I ask.

Rajczyk takes a moment to collect his thoughts. “I am not a skilled coder,” he says, “but I am lucky to be able to network well. It is very easy for me to connect with people. Everywhere I go, I will find people and we will have a good time – that’s what everyone wants at the end of the day – to have a good time, smile and share an interesting story.” Of course, creating social connections isn’t enough to build a profitable business and he explains that the key lies in discerning how diverse individuals can interconnect so as to direct their talents toward the realisation of shared goals. And not everyone can see the big picture. “To see how the pieces fit, you need to know yourself. What is your edge? What can’t you do?” he says. As someone who has walked both paths, Rajczyk knows that the dynamic uncertainty of entrepreneurship was able to reveal more facets of his character than the cushioned confines of a corporate job. And he doesn’t just talk the talk: At those initial stages of the agency, he was forced to stretch himself by embracing that multifaceted role of a true entrepreneur. However, he insists that measuring success through wealth has never been his end goal.

Empowered by the flourishing success of Yomora, he hired a capable management team and, by embracing the attitudes woven into the business fabric of Cyprus, he finally found himself free to branch out into new ventures. Further expanding his entrepreneurial tapestry, he unveiled Karmela, an alluring Mediterranean cuisine restaurant near the historic centre of Limassol and, overlooking the old town, the Coa Rooftop Bar. For Rajczyk, launching bars and restaurants is not about making money but sharing the spirited energy of people having a great time. Together with one of the friends he made in Cyprus, fellow entrepreneur Stylianos Lambrou, he embarked on another ambitious project: the restoration of landmark buildings in the old quarter of Limassol. “Stylianos likes to call it ‘meaningful real estate’”, he says in a whimsical blend of seriousness and levity. “It’s not about making the best return per square meter but about being very respectful to the city, in a way that we can be proud of.” Guided by Lambrou, he also found himself drawn into the orbit of the TechIsland Association – a non-profit embodying the collective voice of prominent Cyprus-based tech companies. The mandate of the association, in which Rajczyk now serves as a Board member, is to collaborate with the Government on transforming the local tech sector into a formidable pillar of economic activity. It is hardly a coincidence that, since the association launched in 2021, the industry has grown from 3% to 10% in terms of its GDP contribution. And, in Rajczyk’s view, the sector is far from reaching critical mass.

As a boy, like many others all over the world, Rajczyk dreamed of growing up to play the beautiful game at the top level, but the cruel reality of his sporting limitations meant that his fantasy of celebrating a 90-minute winner with a knee slide towards the corner flag was doomed to remain just that. “I do play twice a week but it’s a misery to watch me,” he jokes. But his enduring love of the sport, coupled with a few more empty spaces on his calendar, led him to explore different ways of becoming involved. In 2020, after meeting with the top management and the Chairman of Apollon FC, one of the two biggest clubs in Limassol, Rajczyk bought some shares and was given a seat on the Board. As he starts to speak about the team, vividly recalling its trials and tribulations during his first season there – a testament to the pandemic’s grip on everything at the time – a radiant glow animates his face, as if he has been a fan his whole life, which bodes well with Apollon’s supporters, since in Cyprus, football is a family affair – you inherit your team, like a house (or a debt). His affiliation with the club has generated two unforeseen consequences: a deepening of his connection to the city and its people through a shared love of the team. “People approach me at the most random moments to talk about the team. It is all very civil, of course,” he says with a smile. The second unexpected development? A few weeks ago, the club announced that Rajczyk would take over as General Manager of the Apollon FC Academies.

His involvement in football has also led to other, deeper revelations. In the 90 minutes of a game, the importance every player to the outcome is easy to see, as is the way that one wrong decision can hold the entire team back. In the work environment, though, where performance is distributed across weeks and months, it is a real challenge to discern when an employee has lost confidence or is grappling with personal struggles. “I think I lost sight of that in my business,” Rajczyk says, “and now I see things in a completely different light. I’d say that I’ve learned much more about business from football than vice versa!”

In the five years since he moved to Cyprus, Rajczyk has undergone a profound metamorphosis. The slower pace of life, the warmth of new friendships and the unfolding chapters of new ventures have revealed a hidden purpose in life and a new philosophy: true riches are not found in materialistic pursuits but in the meaningful connections forged along life’s winding path. Missing out on that promotion was only the beginning.