The Trajectory of the Innovation Ecosystem

By Endeavor Greece Nov 28, 2021

Where are we and what would we like to achieve?

This interview is one of many seen in our Greek Tech Revolution report. Check out our report and stay tuned with our channels as we publish more interviews featured in the 2020 issue.

The Greek startup ecosystem shows signs of maturity, and this creates reasonable hope for further growth and a strong contribution to the economy as a whole. It is indicative that apart from the significant acquisitions held in 2020, which placed the Greek ecosystem in the global innovation map, the Greek startups raised this year more funds than ever before, reaching as high as 455€ million, while the rise in the number of new jobs created in Greek startups was striking too, as it approached 30%.

“In the last 5 years, there has been significant growth in technology companies in Greece. The Greek tech startup ecosystem is here to stay,” Haris Pylarinos underlines, founder and CEO at Hack the Box, a startup operating in the field of cyber-security. “This advancement brings about a growing need of skilled employees, capable of supporting the companies and implementing their strategic goals. Consequently, shaping a working environment that attracts ‘top global talent’ is an imperative need for all Greek startups, which are set to succeed.”

One can easily realize that our ecosystem is still far behind when compared to other ecosystems that are well ahead of us. However, there has been considerable growth. “Five years ago we used to talk about 5-10 companies, but now there are a lot more. There is a lot of room for improvement,” Mr. Apostolos Apostolakis says. “This can be inferred from other ecosystems of the same population. Not to mention Israel, which is well ahead, I will talk about countries such as Sweden and Esthonia, where a number of very big companies has emerged, although they are less populated than Greece,” he added.

A Different Landscape

Alexandros Chatzieleftheriou, Co-founder and CEO at Blueground, talked at the event “Innovative Greeks” organized by Endeavor Greece along with SEV and highlighted the maturity signs of the ecosystem. Comparing the present with the ecosystem back then, when Blueground was founded in 2013, he pointed out that the environment in 2021 is much more favourable due to more funds being available, networking that provides access to funding and to the guidance offered by other successful companies and entrepreneurs. He also says that the local talent takes much more seriously the job opportunities in startups.

In the online discussion organized by Endeavor Greece under the title “Rethink: Greece As A Top Destination For New Foreign Direct Investment” (17/2/21), Michail Zekkos, Partner and Head of Permira Investment Group in London, found out that the European market on the whole, and Greece in particular, are far below their true potential regarding the field of technology. However, there has been a major change compared to a decade ago, in terms both of the human resources and of the funds available for the investments in the field.

“Greece is still at the exponential growth curve. Regarding the economy, in 2020 there have been some of the largest acquisitions in the field of technology. We have witnessed financing rounds exceeding 10$ million. Such a thing was unheard of four years ago. Michael Zekkos referred to the financing that companies, such as Skroutz, TileDB and Plum raised, to the local venture funds, such as Marathon VC, which raised new funds for financing, as well as to international players, such as Bessemer, which entered the Greek market for the first time, investing in companies, such as Netdata. “A great deal of progress has been made, but we are still at the stage where we cultivate the ecosystem. The way we handle things from now on will be decisive for the ecosystem’s trajectory.”

“I value the changes that the Greek ecosystem has been subjected to,” Nicky Goulimis, cofounder and COO of the American Fintech company Nova Credit, says. “The situation compared to ten years ago is like night and day. A VC ecosystem emerged, which helped the first companies. There have always been tech companies, but now we are experiencing big success stories,” she adds. We have already referred to some of these success stories and to some promising companies of the ecosystem, which have already grown to a certain size. Some of our speakers, however, drew our attention to a “new generation” of Greek startups, which bear certain differences from ventures that took place some years ago.

Find the report here