The first 30 months of a first time startup founder in a new ecosystem

(Originally written and published in 2015)

The city

For most of the world, Athens (capital of Greece, home to nearly 50% of Greece’s population) in 2012 was synonym to words like crisis, debt, IMF, austerity, corruption and unemployment. The economic and social reality on the ground was/is harsh and it affected everyone one way or another. Everyone talked about the cuts, bankruptcies, new taxes, lack of political leadership, insecurity and so on.

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The first legacy

By 2012 the first few Athenian startup founders had already moved forward with the creation of the first products. They were the only examples of people starting in this chaotic Greek environment and creating something that had some value.

The start

We are in Q4 of 2012 and it’s time for the second generation of Athenian startups to surface. We find our selves in Colab (photo below), the first co-working space of Greece in order to be around other founders. We rent a desk or an office and start meeting the people…we soon realize that only a tiny % was actually creating a (real) startup, the majority of who we met were kind of confused on what a startup really is. (Yes there is a definition…) But that didn’t stop us from feeling like we were on a joyride.

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The ecosystem

We reach 2013, the gates have opened and Athens flooded with “startups” & startup-related professionals. New co-working spaces, incubators, accelerators, private equity funds, VCs, angels, meetups, private meetups, networking events, media, advisors, mentors and basically anyone who could convince he or she was worth having a startup-related title also came along.

The assumptions

Yey! we have an alpha (fail) version! It’s not fail because it’s alpha, it’s fail because we have no idea what exactly is the value we want to create and for whom, how to do it etc.

The popularity effect

As months passed the ecosystem bullshit has grown. Before having achieved anything, simply for starting up in the chaotic environment of Greece, the Greek and global media portray us as “The ones who went against the crisis and won”, “The hope for reducing unemployment” generating a very confusing image and making us look like if we achieved something when we haven’t.

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The funding

Back to 2013, funding time has come and we are looking to raise funding in order to move forward. Most of us are running on borrowed or personal money which is ending soon and there is quite some anxiety.

The networking

By now, around 6–7 startup founders — among the funded ones — have formed the Early Startup Circle where we share in private our product & business problems, and we exchange ideas on how to implement solutions.

The business

We are now in deep beta and we are super happy as we are getting early traction. Some of us with more robust beta products, others with much less, anyway the numbers are not yet that important.

The learning curve

Funded founders (seed and above) generally tend to be fairly clever & skilled people. Some more, others less, but in general they have what it takes to build something and convince someone to give them an important amount of money for it.

The year 2014 and beyond

With all this push, and massive new programs supporting startups, new startup awards (we also won a 5.000 EUR award — Get In The Ring competition), still the new Greek startups that I hear about are as lost we all were.

Written by

Always learning. 3x founder. 1x VC-backed.

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