Monday March 30, 2015 Search
Weather | Athens
14o C
09o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Greece startup leaders say they can’t break jobless cycle alone

Paul Tugwell & Eleni Chrepa

The Greek government’s recent focus on startup companies won’t be enough to turn the tide on a job market in which more than one in four Greeks are without work, startup leaders in the country say.

Greece needs small companies specializing in the “new economy” to help spark growth, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said last week at a startup industry event in Athens he attended with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“Startups do create jobs and revenue for the country, and act as a positive role model, especially for the young,” Haris Makryniotis, managing director of Endeavor Greece, said in an interview in Athens. While the focus on startups is good news, “we can’t expect these companies to be enough alone to generate the number of jobs needed in Greece,” he said. New York-based Endeavor Global Inc. is a non-profit organization that backs “high-potential” entrepreneurs.

Greece has lost a quarter of its economic output during a six-year recession, under the weight of austerity measures that have led to an unemployment rate of over 26 percent. That figure rises to more than 56 percent for Greeks age 15 to 24. The value of Greece’s economic output fell 40 billion euros ($55 billion) from 2010 to 2013, according to the country’s statistical authority.

Greek startups employ about 1,500 people in a range of businesses from taxi-finder applications to social networking to souvlaki takeout operations and city-center cupcake shops. The number of new startups reached 144 in 2013, compared with 65 in 2012 and 16 in 2010. Thirty of the new companies attracted 42 million euros of investment in 2013 compared with a total of 500,000 euros in 2010, according to Endeavor.

Chance to grow

Around 15 percent of these companies have a good chance of growing into bigger firms, Makryniotis said, calling that a good performance “but not enough, and we shouldn’t put the burden on them to solve the problem.”

While increased focus on the industry is a good sign, “the negative side is this sort of obsession we have with startups,” said Emilios Markou, co-founder and executive director of Hellas Direct, an online car insurer. “Even if we had a Silicon Valley, which we don’t, we wouldn’t suddenly see 200 million euros-worth of GDP from a bunch of guys.”

Hellas Direct, which began operations in 2012, has raised 12 million euros from investors in the US and the UK, as well as from so-called angel investors. Hellas Direct employs 35 people in Athens, Cyprus and London and has a strategic partnership with Germany’s Munich Re.

‘Tough times’

“It’s premature and over-hyped to say startups are the future of Greece and will turn the economy around,” said Nikos Moraitakis, chief executive officer of Workable, a startup that makes recruitment software solutions for small and medium-sized companies. “There’s an eagerness to overplay positive stories about Greece after a period of such tough times.”

Workable, which has 18 employees in Athens and two in London, raised $950,000 last year from the Jeremie Openfund II and private investors and a further $1.5 million in March from Greylock IL, an affiliate fund of Greylock Partners. “The challenge in Greece over the next few years is for startups that have already proven themselves to get bigger amounts of funding, say around 5 million euros,” Moraitakis said.

The startup industry, while still small, is capable of creating benefits for Greece’s economy, said entrepreneur Alexis Christodoulou. “The startup ecosystem is like a pyramid, the higher the top, the bigger the base,” said Christodoulou, who together with Grigoris Zontanos founded Locish, which is registered in San Francisco. Startups “have the capacity to take the Greek economy a little higher,” Christodoulou said.

US funding

Locish in March got 820,000 euros in funding from a US venture led by Odyssey Jeremy Partners to develop a mobile application that uses social networking to offer real-time recommendations and directions.

Antonios Fiorakis, co-founder and chief executive officer of Incrediblue, a community marketplace for boat rentals, said that while the number of startup jobs in Greece is not significant, the industry’s impact shouldn’t be underestimated. “In a country with 1.3 million unemployed, the few hundred employees that startups hired last year might seem like a drop in the ocean,” Fiorakis said. “In reality though, these people are highly skilled and motivated and can make a big impact on every company’s growth, and that will result in more jobs.”

Incrediblue, founded in 2012, raised 600,000 euros last year and has grown from three co-founders to a team of 14. If the government backs its rhetoric with moves like lower social security costs, firms like Incrediblue could hire more workers, Fiorakis said. “Entrepreneurship is the solution to unemployment.” [Bloomberg]

ekathimerini.com , Thursday April 17, 2014 (11:58)  
Greek yields edge up as lenders scrutinise reform pledge
Euro hurt by Greek uncertainty, dollar helped by rate outlook
Greece says not backing down on debt relief goal
Greece´s OPAP 2014 profit jumps on new games, cost cuts
Talks in Brussels continue but Greece and lenders ´not there yet´
Representatives from Greece and its lenders continued talks in Brussels for a third consecutive day on Monday with the aim of reaching an agreement on the reforms that could unlock bailout f...
Work on tram extension begins in Piraeus
Traffic restriction began in Piraeus on Monday as work began to extend the tram line to the port. Drivers are advised to follow the diversions put in place by authorities. The work on the tr...
Inside News
SOCCER
Improved Greece draws 0-0 at Hungary
Greece ended up goalless with Hungary in Budapest on Sunday, on manager Sergio Markarian’s debut on the national team’s bench, a result that has left Greece at the bottom of its Euro 2016 qu...
HANDBALL
Hooligans mar PAOK´s handball cup triumph
PAOK won its second Greek Cup in handball beating AEK 29-27 in Sunday’s final in Thessaloniki, but the clashes between AEK fans and the police as well as the exchange of lethal flares betwee...
Inside Sports
COMMENTARY
Let´s change the subject
Let’s talk about the weather. The cloudy skies, the rain, storms and humidity, the overall heavy atmosphere. It’s better to think of that than politics and politicians, whatever cuts they ma...
EDITORIAL
Too little, too late?
Many of the measures that are rumored to comprise part of the list that the Greek government is expected to submit to the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Mon...
Inside Comment
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. Talks in Brussels continue but Greece and lenders ´not there yet´
2. Greek yields edge up as lenders scrutinise reform pledge
3. Euro hurt by Greek uncertainty, dollar helped by rate outlook
4. Greece says not backing down on debt relief goal
5. Greece´s OPAP 2014 profit jumps on new games, cost cuts
6. Work on tram extension begins in Piraeus
more news
Today
This Week
1. ECB nerves fray on Greece as supervisors rile central bankers
2. Greek markets show all at risk should mistake trigger a default
3. European stock-index futures rise as investors look to Greece
4. Claim of responsibility for Athens police precinct attack
5. Work on tram extension begins in Piraeus
6. Flooding in Serres after river bursts its banks
Today
This Week
1. Next Monday is D-Day for state funds
2. PM faces Merkel amid race to detail reforms
3. Eurogroup unlikely to be held soon to discuss Greek reforms
4. Some more equal than others
5. Moscow expects progress from Tsipras visit
6. Greece to present reforms by Monday, says gov't spokesman [Update]
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2015, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.