The Disruptive Power of Outliers in New Markets

By Endeavor Greece Oct 17, 2023

We had an engaging discussion on the transformative influence of outliers in emerging markets, at our 6th Greeking Out event, held in London in collaboration with the Hellenic Initiative.

We were thrilled to have industry leaders Maria Chatzou Dunford, George Hadjigeorgiou, Nicky Goulimis, and Theo Sotiriou, sharing their entrepreneurial journeys, daily motivations, insights on Greece as a market, and the wisdom they'd impart to their younger selves. The conversation was moderated by Elena Pantazi, Partner in Talent and Portfolio Development at Northzone.

From an Academic Background to Entrepreneurship.

After dedicating numerous years to academia, Maria embarked on a bold journey into entrepreneurship, a transition that felt like the natural progression of her career. During her time as a researcher, much of her work revolved around analyzing complex data related to curing diseases and evolutionary models.

“As data complexity increased, an excessive amount of time was being wasted on sifting through information rather than obtaining meaningful results”

The ever-evolving landscape of diseases demanded larger and more intricate datasets to identify viable cures. The decision to transition into entrepreneurship was solidified by TechStars London, an invaluable resource that provided Maria with essential training and mentorship on building a tech-driven company when she first started out. This shift allowed her to leverage her deep expertise in data analysis and research and turn it into a powerful solution for addressing the challenges of modern healthcare. The journey, while challenging, has been truly amazing, as it enabled Maria to bridge the gap between research and real-world impact, making a significant contribution to the healthcare industry.

Motivation in Entrepreneurship: 3 successful ventures

Growing up in Thessaloniki, George's childhood was marked by a constant inner conflict. On one hand, there was the pull towards a safe, risk-averse, and conservative path, while on the other, there was the burning desire to be a hustler, to create and innovate. This

dichotomy was evident early in his life when he launched his first venture at the tender age of 16 while still in school. As he grew older, he embarked on a journey to find what truly resonated with him, something beyond his comfort zone. It was during his time at Yahoo when he was presented with an opportunity to move to Switzerland, a decision he declined, ultimately leading to him ultimately getting fired. It was this turning point that clarified his path and drove him to become an entrepreneur.

“Stay true to yourself, and do what you love”

George's key insight throughout this journey has been to stay true to himself and focus on doing what he loves. It's about avoiding the trap of living a life that others expect of him. This principle has been the guiding force behind his success in the health tech industry. He's now ventured into his third successful business after launching GoldenGroup and efood. What keeps him going in entrepreneurship is the hope that people can find their own paths and live their lives authentically, rather than living the life of someone else. This drive, combined with his passion for health tech, continues to motivate him to make a meaningful impact in this industry.

The inside scoop on being a product guy

Being a product co-founder is all about solving real problems Theodore personally encounters. It's a world where Theodore is constantly seeking solutions, whether through building or selling, but rarely both simultaneously. Theodore's journey continues with Mishipay, which was ignited by a simple frustration - not wanting to wait in long lines. Buying the product you want, and getting out. The essence of being in product development lies in the pursuit of making life easier for the customer, addressing their needs, and delivering innovative solutions that streamline and enhance their experience.

Nicky Goulimis, a second-time founder: What I’ve learned

Embarking on a second entrepreneurial journey often involves sifting through a multitude of diverse business ideas, where many paths lead to dead ends.

“You have to take a risk by trying something new”

This change isn't easy, but it's what entrepreneurship is all about. Nicky Goulimis, who initially founded Nova Credit, knows this well. Having co-founded Nova Credit, Nicky ventured into new territory with Tunic, highlighting the fact that it's about summoning the courage to jump into uncharted waters and embracing hope as the guiding star. Most oftentimes, amidst challenges and uncertainties, there exists the potential for remarkable success and impactful innovation.

Advice from the founders themselves

Reflecting on their entrepreneurial journeys, each founder shared valuable advice they would offer their younger selves. For Maria, it's all about honing in on a deep understanding of the problem and market segments. She stressed the importance of comprehending the unknowns in the early stages and focusing on the first crucial steps, including assembling a dedicated team.

Nicky emphasized the notion that not everyone approaches entrepreneurship the same way. For her, it was a transformative experience during business school in the United States. The advice is to "fake it till you make it" - within reason, and delve deep into a product that can open doors and networks. She views entrepreneurship as an approach, a discipline, and a journey of experimentation.

George’s perspective centers on self-awareness and exploration. He advocates for being honest with oneself in terms of understanding personal aspirations and trying out different paths. Ultimately, his advice is to prioritize doing what one loves, as life is short!

“Surround yourself with the best talent”

Theodore highlights the significance of surrounding oneself with the best talent, even if it means, let's say, being among the less accomplished in that group. The founder's realization at Stanford about the essence of startups and entrepreneurship and the passion they witnessed in others' endeavors became a driving force. His advice is to seek out and collaborate with exceptional individuals to foster growth and success.

The 6th Greeking Out event in London got off to a great start! The things we learned about new markets, Greece's possibilities, and our entrepreneurs' own stories are really important for encouraging innovation and inspiring people who think the same way to help Greece's tech world grow. When we bring founders, investors, talented folks, and top executives together, it's a chance for people with similar interests to meet, share what they've been through, and learn valuable insights.