Venturing Beyond Borders: The Opportunity in the Rest of the World

By Endeavor Greece Oct 23, 2023

In the concluding panel of our Greeking Out event that we hosted in collaboration with The Hellenic Initiative, Konstantine Buhler (Sequoia), Stelios Elia (BC Partners), and Stavros Mercouris (KKR) delved into their strategies for venturing beyond borders. They explored the enticing opportunities the global stage offers for their investment philosophies and plans. Discover their unique investment philosophies in emerging markets, how Greece factors into their strategies, and their approaches to navigating recent developments in the field by reading what was said below.

Tackling recent developments and how to stay on top

In addressing current developments, BC Partners’ approach, says Stelios, takes into account the prospect of sustained high interest rates. This situation may prompt a shift towards investments in cash flow-generating assets and a reevaluation of sectors and geographies, including Greece. Their primary investment focus revolves around selecting companies, founders, and trends with the resilience to weather a potentially recessionary environment. They’re also attentive to long-term trends that we believe will remain strong, and recognize that there will always be ongoing demand, even in emerging markets, therefore striving to position their investments accordingly to stay competitive and agile in this evolving landscape.

Concerns and where to focus during challenging times

Konstantine chimes in by mentioning that Sequoia’s primary focus lies at the micro level, where they engage with individual entrepreneurs and assess the market opportunities they pursue. Throughout their history, we've witnessed remarkable companies emerge during challenging economic times. In 1987, amidst a difficult year for U.S. financial markets, companies like Cisco, Google, and PayPal were founded, and Sequoia invested in them during the dot-com era. More recently, Airbnb and Doordash emerged as responses to financial recessions, successfully addressing the evolving needs of people. They maintain an active approach, even when the macroeconomic environment slows down, always on the lookout for unique opportunities, including those in the field of AI.

Konstantine also gave his two cents on the IPO market - their belief is that

“If you build a great company with strong fundamentals, the IPO market will remain accessible, regardless of market conditions”

It's important for entrepreneurs to focus on the long-term vision and the quality of their company rather than getting caught up in short-term market fluctuations.

Understanding Cultural Dynamics

Stelios outlines a different approach to navigating investment opportunities, acknowledging that certain countries may pose inherent risks and instability - therefore eliminating them from the prospects. To counter this, he stresses the importance of assessing risk-adjusted returns. This involves a comprehensive evaluation of the macroeconomic and political frameworks of potential markets. When seeking to persuade the investment board, Stelios emphasizes several key selling points.

  1. The sector under consideration should have a track record of successful deals and industry knowledge

  2. The presence of a great entrepreneur (can be a significant factor in decision-making)

  3. Macro and political aspects align

Once these foundational elements are established, attention is directed towards exploring growth prospects and maximizing returns in the selected markets. This approach enables a systematic and informed approach to investments in a potentially challenging landscape.

Why Europe is attractive as a market?

Europe holds a pivotal role in Sequoia's expansion strategy as they consider it a crucial part of the technology landscape's future. They've demonstrated their confidence in the European market by supporting early-stage companies like Unity, Klarna, and Stripe. Their approach involves encouraging companies to start in Europe and then potentially expand to the U.S. or open offices there, emphasizing that European startups shouldn't feel the need to migrate to the U.S. to achieve significant success. Sequoia acknowledges the talent pool in Europe, benefiting from what they term a "brain gain." They actively aim to assist talented founders in establishing and growing their businesses in Europe by providing early support, further reinforcing their commitment to the European market, and fostering innovation in the region - something that Konstanine has been doing over the last few months, being based in London.

Europe's attractiveness as a market and investment landscape is further amplified by its deep engineering base. With 30% more engineers per capita, Europe stands out due to its substantial investment and active involvement in STEM fields. This abundance of engineering talent contributes to the region's potential for technological innovation and growth, making it an even more compelling destination for firms like Sequoia as they seek to expand and support emerging startups in the European market.

Greece: Understanding the businesses and investing

Investing in Greece is something that relies on a collective effort. The first key element is cultivating a culture where pioneers and risk-takers are celebrated.

“It's essential for individuals to step out of their comfort zones, taking bold risks that set the stage for others to follow” says Konstantine.

To encourage investment, it's vital to have individuals who are willing to champion the nation's potential because although Greece may still be considered an uncharted territory for some, it just takes a few pioneers to highlight exceptional businesses and their vibrant culture to draw attention to the country.

Additionally, fostering an environment where investors can truly understand Greek businesses is pivotal. Understanding the details of local markets and industries is important. By taking risks in investments and exploring new markets, a country can gain global recognition and achieve long-term growth.

Where Greece Excels

Greece can excel in three specific areas: artificial intelligence, leveraging its unique geographical attributes, and harnessing the wealth of talent within the Greek diaspora in biotechnology across Europe and the United States. These niche strengths can set Greece apart and open up exciting opportunities for investment and innovation in the region. By embracing these principles and capitalizing on its strengths, Greece can emerge as a formidable player in the global investment landscape.