What are the major challenges the Hellenic startup ecosystem is facing? Similar to most founders from the Southeastern European region, Greek startuppers are often troubled by the fragmentation of the ecosystem they develop in, while isolation from global tech markets often slows down the development and scaling of their businesses. Connecting with experienced compatriots, whose career has led them abroad, is one of the most fruitful strategies for getting valuable insights about startup development and foreign markets, but how can individuals contribute with their knowledge to the entire local ecosystem?
With the mission to accelerate the Greek ecosystem by providing the knowledge, foundations startuppers need to further grow and connect over 40 Greek-origin startup experts with local entrepreneurs, at the beginning of March 2021, Startup Greece, a non-profit organization focused on supporting the startup and innovation ecosystem through global networking and Founderhood, an Athens-based early-stage tech accelerator, launched the Greek Startup Universe program. The initiative, whose goal is to attract entrepreneurs and investors from all stages together, has so far attracted 424 founders from Cyprus and Greece from almost 300 early-stage tech companies. Thanos Paraschos, Co-founder of Startup Greece, shared that the project unites the global Hellenic startup community and many community actors, such as corporates, universities, innovation hubs, and The Secretary General for Public Diplomacy and Greeks Abroad, part of Greece’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Bringing together the tech community
In its essence, the 8-week online program helps founders develop their business ideas and strategies through weekly Q&A sessions, one-on-one meetings with accomplished tech entrepreneurs and investors, educational materials, as well as additional access to resources and platforms, commonly used in the business development process, such as HubSpot, Autodesk, Vonage, and Seedlegals. A requirement for the startup founders is to form teams with which to participate in the program.
The weekly Q&A talks put on the spot reputable Greek startup experts such as Ioanna Angelidaki, CMO & Co-founder of local delivery InstaShop whose exit amounted to €302M back in 2020, Kostas Pardalis, co-founder and CEO of Greek ELT SaaS startup Blendo that was acquired by RudderStack the same year, and Alexis Piperides, CEO & Co-founder PROTOIO Inc. On the investors’ side, Niko Bonatsos, who is Managing director at General Catalyst, the VC that is known for its investment in over 267 companies, including Snapchat, HubSpot, Stripe, and acquired-by-Reddit Dubsmas, also embraced the initiative to spread knowledge regarding the good strategies early-stage startuppers can choose during their first steps in the VC world. Participants in the program can book one-on-one meetings with business developers, CEOs with fundraising experience, marketing and growth experts, salespeople, designers and UI/UXs, product developers, lawyers, and CFOs, to further elaborate on topics connected to business development.
The action plan
As one of the priorities of the program is to provide startuppers with access to the global tech industry, participants are to gain access to 17 international markets, among which Silicon Valley, France, Israel, and explore the fast-developing ecosystems of countries such as Brazil. Apart from other things, during the curriculum course, teams join a closed community forum, where they could freely discuss various topics and concerns, connected to their business ideas.
So far, the participants have explored the subjects of customer communication, international business, and product development, as well as team management, and are currently dwelling on growth strategies. The first edition of the program is to end on April 25, when the weekly progress reports, prepared by the participating teams will be matched with Greek Angel investors.