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What's the startup ecosystem like in Greece?

What's the startup ecosystem like in Greece?

Fortunately or not, the startup ecosystem development in Greece has a name and it’s Jeremie.  No, Jeremie isn’t the Greek Mark Zuckerberg; it’s the name of the financial instrument of the European Commission together with the European Investment Fund, which since 2012 has been providing funds to startups in this country.  This instrument is responsible for the current state of the Greek startup ecosystem. 

Current situation and future prospects for Greek startups

The Greek startup ecosystem may be small, but it’s continuously been growing since 2012 with the arrival of the Jeremie funds.  Since then there have been a few startups that year after year have found success (YouScan, E-foof.gre, Tracelplanet24, AirTickets.gr) and many others which appear to positioning themselves for promising futures (Forky, Nannuka, Goodvid.io, Pockee, Wappier) in the middle of a critical economic situation that never seems to get resolved.

The problem now is that Jeremie lines of financing have come to an end, without any renewal provisions and the absence of private investments.

As in everything, there’s always a silver lining and it’s that Jeremie has acted as a catapult for the creation and evolution of new companies, entrepreneurs and executives with extensive experience in managing startups.

Adaptability and risk-taking culture

If there is something exceptionally good that has been brought about by the difficult political and economic situation in Greece it’s that is has created a legion of entrepreneurs whose greatest virtue in adaptability.  They are used to coping with new situations, looking for alternatives and finding solutions to any obstacles.  What’s more, they’ve gotten good at taking risks at every step of the way.

Global birth, international funding

Why have Greek startups done so well internationally?  It’s easy, economic and financial situations have forced them to start up with a global mindset and from the first moments they aim for international markets, since their internal markets aren’t suitable for finding funding or are they very receptive to absorbing technology products and services.  It’s common for Greek startups to register and establish themselves outside of Greece (such as in the UK or USA) and, although they maintain a base in Greece, their founders and business managers stay abroad.

More specifically, one could say that the best startups and Greek entrepreneurs are even financing their operations outside Greece because otherwise they could end up disappearing sooner or later.  According to the data collected by the Greek businessman and journalist Demetrios Pogkas, 31 startups of Greek origin got investments worth 81 million dollars versus the 45 million dollars achieved in 2013.

New Sectors

Almost two-fifths of the country’s startups focus on the traditional sectors of tourism and transportation.  Examples of companies in these sectors are Truckbird, JoinCargo, Trustporter, Offerial and Tourismart.  But the emerging activity focuses on other sectors more closely related to pure science such as biotechnology, renewable energy, medicine (check out Bionic Healthcare, CareAcross, Respi and Lighhouse Solar Systems), but despite being emerging sectors in Greece, Lighthouse Solar Systems founder Christos Drogitis declares “our vision is to commercialize our innovative solutions internationally.”

2015 marks a before and after

And it’s that after the difficulties experienced last year nothing is too big a challenge for them.  The critical situation and control of banks’ control of capital funds has frozen agreements for international operations.  It has caused foreign investors to turn their backs on Greek startups and has made it so that even the entrepreneurs who have left the country are still paying the bills for their domains and servers- sometimes even the bills for professional colleges- to third parties due to the inability to move money outside of their country.

With this baggage of lessons learned, the obstacle overcome and the solidarity shown between colleagues there is widespread optimism about this generation of entrepreneurs and Greek startups full of strength who are ready to take advantage of the opportunities that will present themselves in 2016.

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