Some 200 investors, entrepreneurs and academics attended a special event last week at the headquarters of Workable, a Greek-owned startup, in Boston. The main speaker at the event, which was organized by Endeavor Greece and the Hellenic Innovation Network, with the support of the Greek Consulate in Boston and MIT Enterprise Forum Greece, was Workable CEO Nikos Moraitakis.
Kostas Fragogiannis, Greece’s deputy minister for economic diplomacy, also addressed the attendees.
“I had the opportunity in those two days in Boston to meet a vibrant hive of Greek researchers and startups that are making progress and honoring our country with their work,” Fragogiannis told Kathimerini.
“In a series of meetings organized by the Greek Consulate, I was able to tell these young people how attractive Greece is becoming for investment and business ventures thanks to the government’s pro-investment policy. It is important that, as a state, we find ways to connect this valuable resource of entrepreneurship and research of the diaspora with Greece.”
Fragogiannis’ visit to Boston was no accident. “The Foreign Ministry is exploring ways to elevate the role of the Consulate General in Boston to a center of scientific diplomacy, along the lines of advanced countries like the Netherlands, Switzerland, Japan, Germany, Israel, Canada and the UK, which have already set up such offices in Boston,” he revealed.
“Their objective is to exploit academic and business opportunities offered by the city in state-of-the-art technologies (artificial intelligence, biotechnology, cybersecurity etc). The presence in Boston of a prominent and particularly distinguished Greek scientific community makes such an endeavor from the Greek side that much easier.”
For his part, Nikos Moraitakis told Kathimerini the event “was a day during which the local community, businesses and the government came together for a common cause: to represent the country all together, in the way it deserves. The mood was one of unity, optimism and ambition, without the kind of gloom, pessimism and divisiveness we saw during the crisis.”
Workable was founded in 2012 by Moraitakis and Spyros Magiatis, and is regarded today as one of the world’s top digital recruitment platforms, with 200 employees in Athens, 60 in Boston and another 15 in offices in London, San Francisco and Australia.
Responding to a question at last week’s event about the obstacles to entrepreneurship in Greece, Moraitakis stressed that businessmen are accustomed to challenges and said that there is no use harping on about the ills of Greek bureaucracy.
Moraitakis’ interlocutor in the event’s fireside chat format was Marina Hatsopoulos, an entrepreneur and angel investor. Greek entrepreneurship, she said, “is at a powerful juncture” thanks to a glut of talented young people who can be absorbed by startups at affordable rates.
Greeks, she added, are “entrepreneurs by nature,” pointing out that 16 percent of Greek immigrants in the American job market are small business owners, “the largest ratio among all immigrant groups.”