- What encouraged you to work on entrepreneurship in a young age? Was it an organization, a person, an event?
AIESEC has been an important factor that encouraged me to get involved with entrepreneurship, as it taught me the simple principle of “if you don’t like something, change it”. The matter that concerns me deeply is the young people’s idleness in both their professional development and their personal growth. Even though there are countless opportunities in their everyday lives, they keep waiting for the right place and time. So I decided to take action and show in as many young people as possible how they can develop and search for new opportunities.
- What did the University contribute to your entrepreneurship route, until this moment?
The university is a crucial ally in my entrepreneurship journey. With the contribution of the professors and the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Unit (IEU), we learn how to develop our business, what the students like and if we are indeed catering to their needs. For now our collaboration is restricted to conversations with the professors and IEU in order to join an incubation programme. However, we are looking forward to a long-term partnership in the future. We believe that we are lucky to be in a university that promotes innovation.
- Incubators and seed finance: What is your experience and opinion as far as it concerns your project and Greece in general?
My experience is mostly relative to the business incubators part. I am participating in an incubation programme from the Impact Hub Athens. I believe that this kind of programme is necessary to every start-up which seeks a sustainable development and wishes to succeed in the long-run. As far as I am concerned, the provided education, guidance and goal tracking are the programme’s most important services as well as their role as the devil’s advocate that helps challenging your ideas and judging them from a different perspective. However, there is plenty of room for improvement and the Greek incubators should obtain new expertise from abroad in order to assist Greek startups in developing and gaining a competitive advantage over foreign startups. As far as seed finance is concerned, even though I know what it is, unfortunately, I think of it as something rather difficult and complicated and I am not aware of any companies nor incubators experienced in this sector. It is possible this is just the Greek reality at this point.
- What Innovative training methods have you seen? How much did they help and which ones are worth mentioning?
In July, I joined the Social Impact Award VISION SUMMIT in Austria with SIA winners from all over Europe. What I have really enjoyed was thoroughly working on every part of our project, while having to follow certain steps and the fact that after each part there were feedback spaces, where we were given feedback from 2-3 different teams and we did the same for them. This helped us see things from a different perspective and find new ideas freed from our subconscious restrictions.After completing this process, we concluded on the final form of our project. Furthermore, we realised that the more time you devote to helping others, the more they will help you.
- What initiatives have you seen or participated in that promote start-up communities? What’s your personal contribution to this?
The Social Impact Award, which we won last year and help promote this year. The Entrepreneurship School Greece that took place for the first time in Greece and I was a delegate at. In addition, we have communicated with AUEB’s ACEin so as to collaborate next year.
- Is there a start-up network in Greece? How active is it? Is there a true substance? What’s your personal contribution to it?
It exists and it is growing fast for the last few years. Yes, because better startups are constantly springing up and they have an increasing impact on the improving of the Greek society. As for my contribution, I have created my own startup and I try to push the people I know to execute their ideas, make something their own and finally, support startups as much is possible as a consumer (e.g. Forky)
- If someone asked you a question about fundraising, what would it be and how would you answer?
Which type of fundraising do you prefer? The ideal solution, for founders who want the most control over their business and don’t prefer equity types of fundraising, would be lending. However, based on the present state of the banks, that would be impossible. If the business has a social impact, like ours, I see fit to try and get sponsorships from certain foundations. It is our principle, though, that, if a business wants to be called a business, it cannot depend on sponsorship to survive. As a result, sponsorships are useful to help build the business model and start to have revenue. In this stage, equity and debt fundraising are more efficient, as I mentioned in the beginning.
- Co-working spaces: opinion/ personal partnership, considering your route so far.
Very good. They help build solidarity and support in the startup network, spread the most efficient methods, make your idea known and they even work as a motive to improve yourself, as you watch others advance and evolve. We have been using the Impact HUB Athens for seven months and our collaboration was great. They were even flexible on using their space for our workshops. Nonetheless, I believe that along with the expansion of the startup, it should find its own space in order to be allowed to create its culture.
- What’s your number one tool, if you had to pick, that made you and your project what you are today?Is hard work a tool?
Design thinking, a problem resolution method, which we implemented during our project’s planning, as well as in its actualisation.
- What’s the biggest need for a young entrepreneur at this time?
Perpetual need: Finding the right partnersIn the first stages: Fundraising to build the startup, until it starts creating its own cash flow.In later stages: Expertise and counselling on scaling.
Interviewed by Kostapanos Miliaresis