Start-ups soar despite prolonged recession

By Dimitra Manifava

They are new, innovative and experiencing rapid growth or the potential for it, which is particularly important in the context of the country’s prolonged recession: Greek start-up enterprises currently number 144, from just 16 in 2010, having created a total of 1,500 jobs in the innovation sector.

Based on their picture to date, one in every four existing start-ups has considerable growth prospects, generating jobs and added value, according to Endeavor Greece, which has been recording the development of this niche market.

More important is the amount of investment in Greek start-ups, which last year was over 80 times higher than in 2010: In 2013 investment in start-ups amounted to 42 million euros, compared with just 500,000 euros three years earlier.

Last year 30 companies in the sector received investments from various funds. A large part of that funding was made via the Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises (JEREMIE) initiative, channeled into the local market by four funds: Elikonos, Odyssey, Open Fund and PJ Tech Catalyst.

Tech firms have absorbed 50 percent of the funding provided to local start-ups in 2013, followed by financial service companies, mostly thanks to the high investment in insurance firm Hellas Direct. After them come companies in the media sector, agricultural products and food, tourism, education and entertainment. Notably, funds have made no investments in sectors with considerable activity such as e-commerce, health and energy.

Out of the 144 Greek start-ups, almost half (71) are involved in technology. Forty-one are involved in food and agricultural products, 31 in culture and education, 19 in e-commerce, 18 in health, 16 in tourism, 12 in energy and green technologies, 11 in entertainment, 10 in financial services, eight in fashion and design, four in mass media, and three in high technology, along with 11 others from various business domains. Clearly there is some overlap as regards the sectors each is involved in.

The business of half of all the start-ups is connected to cell phone applications, such as the Taxibeat app used for booking cabs.

Endeavor Greece commented that the increase in the number of start-ups is also connected to the rise in organizations that support new entrepreneurs, such as cooperatives and business incubators, as well as competitions, events and other initiatives aimed at promoting and funding entrepreneurship. It is estimated that there is a ratio of one such organization for every five start-ups.