SOCIETY

‘Frappe’ livens up the web-surfing Diaspora

?In order to understand how we started, you have to go back in time to the first few months of 2005, when we first conceptualized the site. Greece was still basking in the afterglow as reigning Euro2004 soccer champ and proud Summer Olympics host. Dramatic countrywide infrastructure improvements were completed or under way. Greece was on the move,? explain the three men behind Greek Diaspora site DailyFrappe.com. But Spiro Papadopoulos, Kyriakos Mellos and Kostas Vasilopoulos noticed a ?disconnect? when it came to contemporary Greece?s online image.

?Stylistically speaking, the modern post-Olympic Greece that emerged wasn?t reflected in the imagery and nomenclature on the Internet at that time. Online blogs, with their casual style and frequent updates were gaining in popularity. We thought we could add something to the conversation by marrying emerging online trends with a contemporary design and casual voice.?

The three Greek Americans decided to create a website that would offer up a ?highly edited, positive, daily dose? of Greece. ?Maintaining a connection to Greece for our readers is what it?s all about ? not only for Greek-somethings ? but for all Greece enthusiasts around the world.? The DailyFrappe creators talked, from Chicago, about the inspiration behind the site, how it?s been received and what tips they would give others looking to start a website (the secret, they say, is a passion for the subject).

Says the trio: ?Our inspiration comes from visiting Greece regularly. The sights, smells and sounds of Greece tend to wane over time. We wanted our readers to keep as much of that spirit alive as possible.?

How was the site?s name chosen?

For those of us in the Diaspora, the frappe is iconic. It reminds us of summer vacations and good times with family and friends. We thought it quite fitting. A family member actually suggested we go with it. We got some flack in the beginning. Some thought it had negative connotations, stereotypes of Greeks spending all of their time in cafes. It?s all a matter of personal outlook.

What other projects have you worked on in the past and how much time does running the website take on a daily basis?

While DailyFrappe is our baby, we each have our respective careers. Spiro has years of experience in building businesses, Kostas in the technical realm as a web guru and Kyriakos in marketing and community development.

One of the reasons for our success is that we all bring different expertise to the table. Our team is a great synthesis of talent and passion and we?re good friends, to boot. Running the site, which includes the blogging, tweeting, answering e-mails and adding events, can add up to a few hours every day.

What relationship do Greece and the Greek Diaspora community have with the Internet?  

We?re ecstatic to see the Internet community in Greece grow and flourish.  The start-up community in Greece is taking off with efforts such as Opencoffee.gr ? bringing together business people and creative, talented developers. The number of Greeks writing blogs and getting their opinions out on the Internet in lieu of traditional media is also growing. As a result, we?re seeing this online activity impact on how ?business as usual? is done in Greece.

We?re also very pleased with the Greek Diaspora community and how they?e received us. We get countless e-mails and notes telling us that they?re excited we?re out there and doing what we do.

What kind of information and services do you think Greeks of the Diaspora are in need of? What was the thinking behind how DailyFrappe presents and organizes news stories, upcoming events and community forums?

Anything that gets people talking ? be it online at DailyFrappe, on Facebook or just around the kitchen table ? is a good thing. Encouraging the sense that you?re part of a much larger community is key.

The Diaspora is in a tough position. Immigration from Greece has ebbed, so it?s up to the Greek communities that dot the planet to keep carrying the torch of Hellenism. Tremendous challenges, yes, but also great opportunities lie ahead.

It?s all about connecting like-minded people in cool ways like we?ve done with our ?Meet Me in Greece? Facebook application that lets all your friends know who is going to Greece and when, with maps and alerts. 

Or, like our events section, which lets you add your events for free and which can then also be placed on other sites. Our approach has always been to integrate with mainstream technologies in the hope of fostering interaction.

What have been the highlights so far? What sort of positive feedback have you received?

The feedback has been overwhelming.  We?ve received acknowledgement from various branches of the Greek government to the smallest far-flung Greek communities in Chile, Botswana, the Bahamas and beyond. Knowing that people come back to our site every day to feel a part of a larger online community makes all the hard work worth it. 

One of our biggest successes has been the response from the Fly the Flag program we began a few years ago in commemoration of Greek Independence Day. We send out Greek flags free of charge to readers who request one. We have sent out hundreds of flags to readers all over the world. In response, readers send us pictures of the flags proudly waving.

Our community also raised thousands of euros for Greek Fire Relief a couple of years ago. It was tremendously rewarding to see the generous response from our readers. We?ve also been fortunate to work with good people. Scott Thomas, former design director of Barack Obama.com, designed our logo and overall site. Scott is a rock star in the design community these days ? lecturing all over the world about his experience leading the design efforts for the 2008 Barack Obama online campaign.

What are the future plans for the site? 

We want to make our site more community-driven and to add more resources for readers to exchange ideas and learn more about certain topics. To that end, we?ve started a community forum, ?Greek Voice,? which allows our readers to post questions/ideas and get responses from other readers. We are also launching an online storefront on September 18 to help offset the costs associated with running the site. Check our site to get your original DailyFrappe T-shirts.