As a Content Partner at Delphi Economic Forum, Endeavor Greece hosted three panels at this year’s event.
On May 13th, we brought together Odysseas Tsatalos – Founder & CTO at Ergeon, David Politis – Founder & CEO at BetterCloud and Marios Stavropoulos – Co-founder & CEO at Softomotive to discuss all about their drivers, the importance of finding the right customers for their businesses and keeping their vision intact and their teams motivated. The panel discussion with Greek fast-growing entrepreneurs who stand out worldwide with their performance, was moderated by Andreas Stavropoulos – Endeavor Greece Board Member and Partner at Threshold Ventures.
Odysseas Tsatalos, Founder and CTO of Ergeon, when asked what drives him, responded that “for any entrepreneur money is a second-order affect, not a primary effect”, noting the importance of building a dream and being passionate about what you are doing. “I want to fix the fact that people are forced to leave the places they love and the people they love to go and pursue careers somewhere else”, he said. In building a team, he shared his view that you need people who complement your strengths and cover your weaknesses.
David Politis, CEO and Founder of BetterCloud, noted the importance of finding the right customers for your business, speaking to enough customers to gain access to the “intelligence of the masses” and finally listening and searching for the “painkillers versus the vitamins” – the things that customers really need, which will really drive value and solve real problems, rather than looking for the “nice-to-haves”. He added that as a team grows, you have to have systems in place to communicate in a transparent way and you have to be transparent about everything. “People have come up with ideas that they would never have come up with, because they wouldn’t have known what the issues and opportunities were”, he explained.
Co-founder and CEO of Softomotive Marios Stavropoulos, when asked how he managed to keep his vision intact and his team motivated for more than a decade, noted that at first the international presence of the company and the appreciation clients expressed for its products provided more than enough motivation. He spoke of the growth of his team over the years, stressing that “with entrepreneurship you evolve and you learn along the way”. “Listen to the market, listen to your customers and it doesn’t matter if you don’t have everything sorted at first. Agility is the one strategic advantage of startups; being able to respond fast to market demands.”
On the same day, we brought together Stavros Papadopoulos – Founder & CEO at TileDB, Inc, Yiannis Kiachopoulos – Co-founder & CEO at Causaly and Constantinos Venetsanopoulos – Co-founder & CEO at Arrikto to discuss all about the evolution of the Greek tech in the last decade, what is missing in the ecosystem at the moment and the challenges that come now that the ecosystem is maturing. The panel discussion with the people behind the next success stories of the Greek Tech was moderated by Constantine Polychronopoulos, Endeavor Mentor and Vice President 5G & Telco Cloud.
Constantinos Venetsanopoulos, Co-founder and CEO of Arrikto, noted that the Greek tech ecosystem has evolved dramatically since 2015. He gave an overview of what he sees changing: the local VC system is maturing and getting more connected to international tech hubs, the quality of supporting services is rising, we are starting to see experienced people that have worked abroad thinking about returning to Greece or having already returned, and we are also witnessing the first big success stories of the ecosystem. In terms of challenges, there is great talent on the tech and engineering side, but other ingredients that are critical for success like marketing, sales etc. are still scarce. “These are peripheral things to technology that will nevertheless help the company as a whole evolve and grow.”
Founder and CEO of TileDB Stavros Papadopoulos shared his perspective on what is missing in the ecosystem at the moment. He noted that the answer to this question 5 years ago would have been radically different, speaking of a drastic evolution of the Greek tech ecosystem in this period. There is now a lot more interest in people starting companies but also joining startups; a lot more people will not hesitate to leave a more traditional job to pursue a career in this space. Regarding challenges, he agreed that the talent pool is finite at the moment, noting that we need to educate ambitious future talent on how a startup functions, as it is not the same as a mature company.
Yiannis Kiachopoulos, Co-founder and CEO of Causaly spoke of the remarkable journey of his company in Greece, having a team of about 20 talented engineers and scientists. “Back in 2012 the ecosystem was not as developed as it is today”, he noted. The challenge that comes now that the ecosystem is maturing, with a lot of companies cropping up, is that there is more competition for talent, to get really great people into a company and retain them.
On May 14th, Innovative Greeks brought together Costantza Sbokou Constantakopoulou, Endeavor Greece Chairwoman, Andreas Stavropoulos, Endeavor Board Member and Partner at Threshold Ventures, Nicky Goulimis, Endeavor Entrepreneur and Co-founder & COO of Nova Credit and Kostas Mallios, Corporate Vice President, Applied AI, Applied Materials, to discuss how Greece can tap the diaspora opportunity and how local initiatives such as the Innovative Greeks Community can help. Marco Veremis, Endeavor Greece Board Member, Co-founder and Executive Chairman of Upstream and Partner at BigPi Venture Capital moderated the discussion.
Costantza Sbokou Constantakopoulou, Co-owner and CEO of Phāea Resorts, Senior Architect at T.E.MES. SA, and Endeavor Greece Chairwoman, noted that in the last two years there have been many examples of investments in the technology sector by foreign companies in Thessaloniki and Patras, some of which have also attracted Greek talent from abroad. She pointed out that business and innovative investments in remote areas is a good idea “because they will both cost less and have a greater and more direct social impact”.
Co-founder and COO of Nova Credit Nicky Goulimis focused on lending in Greece, which remains very difficult. Beyond the banks, startups should be created to support the domestic credit market, she said, noting the opportunities that exist in that space.
Andreas Stavropoulos, Partner at Threshold Ventures, referred to Diaspora Greeks who want to return, but also foreigners who want to come to live in Greece, noting that quality of life and quality of work are no longer two separate things, while the productivity of digital workers is not related to working hours, but to their “bright moments”, that is, the inspiration that will produce a solution to a given problem.
Corporate Vice President Applied AI at Applied Materials Kostas Mallios said that we need to identify the needs of the global market, in order to design business ideas that will not cater exclusively to the much more limited Greek market. “With the synergies of smaller companies, we could build pilots for products that will address the international market”, he noted.