Greek start-ups rise from the ruins

Greek start-ups rise from the ruins

"Startups are booming" on Telegraph

Rebecca Burn-Callander, Enterprise Editor for the Telegraph, spoke with some of the most distinguished people from the greek startup ecosystem and in parallel, noted the country’s economic situation. Read on.

(Photo credit ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Greece is in dire straits. After six years of recession, more than a quarter of Greece’s 11m population is unemployed. For the under-25s, that figure rises to 56.9pc, the highest youth unemployment rate in the European Union. Rioting remains commonplace on the streets of Athens as austerity edicts from the all-powerful troika, are doled out. But despite these socio-economic headwinds, a nascent Greek start-up ecosystem is rising out of the ashes of the Greek economy.

The swollen public sector, which once employed 1.2m, has been forced to shed 250,000 people in three years. The private sector has been unable to soak up the jobless. Many have left the country, but those left behind are coming up with innovative schemes to support themselves.

According to the not-for-profit organisation Endeavor Greece, 144 new companies were created there last year – up from 16 in 2010. The figure is not overwhelming in itself – there were 500 start-ups in the UK in 2013 – but economists and venture capitalists agree Greece is on the cusp of a start-up boom.

“For the last 20 years, the public sector was the biggest employer in Greece,” explains Ulysses Kyriacopoulos, the former chairman of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises, Greece’s version of the CBI. “Now everyone understands that this is over. This has pushed many people to think creatively about alternatives. Opening another boutique or hairdresser is not the solution as there are already too many of those, so we are seeing lots of new ideas coming through.”

Nikos Anagnostou is the man behind GreekStartups.com – the Greek equivalent of CrunchBase or AngelList. “E-commerce, travel, cloud technologies, mobile, social, software as a service and internet of things are all popular,” he says. “And the birth rate of technology start-ups is now massively exceeding the death rate of old companies.”

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