The Anglo-Saxon motto “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” could be paraphrased in Greece’s economic drama as “When the going gets tough, innovative minds get going.”
Since the onset of the debilitating economic crisis in 2009, many young Greeks put their minds to work in an effort to make the best out of the IT advances or search for fresh ideas that would end up being profitable and turn things around.
Funded by investors with a keen eye for the future, the following startups are not a flash in the pan. They are here to stay, and bright examples of the Greek entrepreneurial spirit.
For instance student Stavros Tsompanidis was walking on the beach one day and saw piles of dead seagrass. In the dried-up grass the 25-year-old saw recyclable material that could be put to good use.
Now his startup PHEE is making sunglasses, smart phone cases and gift boxes out of dried-up seagrass. PHEE products sell in Greece and abroad because they are eco-friendly and considered, ‘cool’.
Another startup is Quizdom, a general knowledge and popular culture app game creator. The company was created in 2014 and in addition to boasting more than two million users at present, it even launched a television game show last year – in cooperation with Germany’s Eageron – that is based on the popular game app.
Last year Quizdom was bought by the German group friends4media. The new Echelon 2D application, which is based on the classic arcade game, is offered at no cost on Android and iOS operating systems.
Then there is Blueground, a company founded in Athens in 2013 by Alexandros Chatzieleftheriou, which now has offices in New York. Based on the idea that the trend of buying a home is shifting to renting a house, Blueground offers fully furnished and equipped apartments to company executives, ambassadors and professionals who want to live and work in style and comfort.
With unemployment at 25 percent in 2012, Workable created a software that makes hiring easier. The startup founded by Nikos Moraitakis became so successful in Athens that it now has offices in London and Boston and 180 staff, most of whom are in Greece.
Intale founded by Fanis Koutouvelis in 2013 is a software company that created Intale Point, a management software that is designed for the daily needs of convenience store and mini-market owners. The software controls their cash registers work shifts, warehouses as well as organizing suppliers and customers.
Welcome Pickups, is a startup based on the famous Greek hospitality. An application that makes the travelling experience more personalized and friendly, offering custom-made tours and transfers to and from the airport. It was founded in 2015 by Alex Trimis, now CEO of the company.
Pollfish is a platform that delivers surveys online and via mobile apps on a global scale, enabling its clients to survey millions of respondents in real time, 24/7 the world over.
Founded in 2013 by Andreas Vourkos, John Papadakis, Giannis Zaoudis and Zissis Bellas, Pollfish conducts research for major brands including Microsoft, T-Mobile and Millward Brown.
Owiwi combines the latest in psychological research with game design to assess candidates’ soft skills through serious games. The platform combines a psychometric tool and accurate candidate results based on an advanced scientific methodology. The startup was founded in 2014 by Athina Polina Dova, Christoforos Loutzakis and Ilias Vartholomaios.
Another startup that caters to the millions of travelers who visit Greece every year is Tooristas. In their own words, “An unforgettable trip is built on the special experiences you can share with locals. Most of the times these experiences are difficult to find. We are changing this, by discovering and presenting our loved and beautiful destinations through different, authentic views and unique perspectives.”
Syncbnb is the brainchild of Alexander Karavitis and Petros Ziogas. Launched in 2017, the startup offers a calendar synchronization tool for vacation rental home owners who want to list their property on multiple channels (Airbnb, Homeaway, Booking.com, TripAdvisor, etc.) and need a tool to help them avoid double bookings. It combines Advanced AI and Human Quality Assurance. Syncbnb targets a global audience and has clients from 78 countries.