Eastern European venture capital firm Underline Ventures is announcing a number of new hires to […]
This week our guest on The Recursive Podcast is a real ecosystem chameleon. Dimitris Kalavros-Gousiou has taken various roles in building up the innovation ecosystem in Greece – a journalist, a community builder, an entrepreneur, and an investor.
During his conversation with Irina, Dimitris shares why he came back to Greece after studying abroad when the Greek financial crisis was looming behind the corner and people with foreign diplomas were flowing out of the country.
With a Master’s degree in Computer and Communication Law from the Queen Mary University of London, Dimitris focused on building his expertise around the startup ecosystem rather than pursuing a career in Law because he felt the need to contribute to Greek society. Dimitris started out as a journalist as one of the first to ever speak about startups in Greece.
“We didn’t have much to say because there was no ecosystem but I thought I might be able to contribute to Greece somehow”, he remembers.
After this endeavor, which he describes as “unsuccessful”, he put his efforts into founding TEDxAthens, the first-ever independent TED event organized in Greece back in 2009.
But that was only the beginning of his entrepreneurial journey. Dimitris’ passion for technology and innovation drove him toward establishing Found.ation in 2012, a digital transformation accelerator and innovation hub.
At the time, Dimitris believed that Found.ation would be the first step in building up the startup ecosystem in times that were not necessarily comforting for startup companies in Greece. But the plan changed along the way. The more imminent need that Dimitris and his co-founders identified was the need for corporate consulting services and they transformed their business.
“It took me a while to understand what it takes to build something of value”, he reflects.
Dimitris also talks about what he values in the people he works with. He never looked for people to agree with, rather the opposite. His approach is to focus on building trust among the people he has worked with and it has always been about personality.
In 2018, he took the next step in his journey and became an investor. He founded Velocity.Partners, a VC fund for early-stage ventures. The fund has supported 22 companies, many with an international presence. And it already has 3 exits.
“Once you put on the investor’s hat you are no longer in the driver’s seat, you are no longer calling the shots”, he summarizes.
This transition aligns with Dimitris’s philosophy regarding the ecosystem. He talks about the natural evolution from a committed founder into an investor as it is almost a required step in order to strengthen your position in the ecosystem. “As an ecosystem, we all mature together”, he says.
Being the so-called “third eye view” without having the founder sentiment, Dimitris describes the fulfillment he experiences when founders reach out for advice and he can keep the promises he gave to them.
“Sustainability means promises and keeping those promises”, Dimitris explains.
Watch the full episode to learn more about Dimitris’s vision of the ecosystem’s future, the value proposition Greece has for the nomad founders, and the power of the interconnected Greek diaspora.
Check out the previous episode to sneak a peek into the future of mobility with the Managing Director of Bosch Engineering Center in Sofia Thomas Metz.