By Marilly Douni
It is true that Greece has suffered a lot (or to be more precise, suffers a lot) from all of these 7 years of recession. More than a quarter of our country’s population suffers from unemployment; In fact, Greece has the highest youth unemployment rate in all of the European Union. Does this ring any bell to someone? For sure, not to those who must be blamed for. On the other hand, us, Greeks, know how to fight in difficult moments; we have proved this thousands of years ago and we are still trying to stand on our feet. In fact, this is what our youngsters are trying to do; despite the severe socio-economic problems Greece faces, Greek new entrepreneurs rise out of the ashes of the Greek market. According to Ulysses Kyriacopoulos (Former Chairman of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises – Greece’s version of the CBI) “For the last 20 years, the public sector was the biggest employer in Greece. Now everyone understands that this is over. This has pushed many people to think creatively about alternatives. Opening another boutique or hairdresser is not the solution as there are already too many of those, so we are seeing lots of new ideas coming through”. Nikos Anagnostou – the man behind Greekstartups.com – says that “E-commerce, travel, cloud technologies, mobile, social, software as a service and internet of things are all popular and the birth rate of technology start-ups is now massively exceeding the death rate of old companies” (Burn-Callander, 2014).
Before entering to the world of the most successful Greek Startup companies, it would be wise for you to realize what Internet and the so-called “Internet of Things” means and how this has helped the growth of Startups. It is true that people cannot imagine the concept of big things and how massive the word “big” is in terms of future and technology. The Internet of Things does not mean only Machine to Machine communication (devises that “talk” to each other), but in this relationship there is an addition of sensors, so sensors and machines communicate in such a way that the gathered data is intersected and leveraged. These sensors, in a few words, are responsible for communicating information at the right time and transform it into action. At this point you may ask “What does the Internet of Things have to do with Startups?”. And this is where I go back to the point that raised above “People cannot realize what the word enough means in terms of technology”. As Internet connectivity and gathering of data grow, entrepreneurs and engineers are striving towards profit. Researches show that by 2020 the Internet of Things will consist of 26 billion devices that will communicate with each other in such a speed that will surpass people’s personal communication. Startups that are based on that type of communication, are the ones that build the Internet of Things that promises increased productivity and efficiency. Making smart homes, smart cars, smart TVs, smart phones or smart applications is, for sure, a path to the Internet of Things.
…Please, keep that in mind when the right time comes for you to build your own “smart” product or “smart” service…
Leaving theory behind, I would like to proceed to the top 5 Greek Startup companies that are focused on the Internet of Things and boosted their efficiency!
Forky is a Greek organization founded in 2014 mainly by chefs, engineers and operations businessmen. Forky is a food company in which its people (chefs) prepare delicious meals and deliver them within 10 to 20 minutes in the majority of the Athenian areas. Forky’s talented chefs with great experience in top restaurants prepare only two main dishes based only on organic and healthy ingredients accompanied with a green salad. Their mission is to daily create healthy food selections for people who wish to be fit or need to maintain a healthy and balanced diet due to health issues. This kind of Startup is based mainly on the Internet use as we are talking about an electronic restaurant. According to Forky’s founders, Michalis Gkontas and Petros Pitsilis, their Start up succeed due to its effective and productive first line management (chefs and experienced cookers) and second line management (web developers, customer service, administrative personnel) and the effective use of Internet and social media (Forky is not advertised through TV channels or radio). Mr. Gkontas says “We will invest on the total experience of people who work at Forky” (Sofikitis, 2015) and he dares to express his dream; not only to add more dishes and deserts, to increase its working hours but also to expand abroad, ie in London.
In Forky’s case, the financial crisis seemed to help the founders make their dreams come true. “The financial crisis has helped the Start Up companies, mainly in terms of change in peoples’ mentality and culture. Moreover, opportunity costs are extremely low. There is no need for a lot of money, mostly in the beginning, so it is not difficult for someone who wants to work and brainstorm on an idea for about 9-10 months in order to see where this idea may lead. More particularly, Start Ups which have to do with exportation, have a great advantage as they can approach a strong human resource with the lowest costs in comparison with the wages abroad, while their product proves to be competitive” says Mr. Gkontas (Sofikitis, 2015).
A lot of well known companies believed in Forky’s power and potentials and funded its effort by raising more than 800.000€ in 2015. Some of its investor are Blue Wire Capital, OpenFund, Phillip BRINKMANN.
Nannuka is an online platform, founded in 2014, which connects parents to a variety of child care services all over Europe. Incredible is the fact that Nannuka became the childcare Leader in Greece, while today is expanding its knowledge and experience in two more countries, in Italy and in Great Britain. Nannuka’s team is composed only of young people from different backgrounds, undertaking a variety of roles like Project managers, web developers, identity designers, web designers, account managers and many more. The team’s vision is to help parents and families in general by making their everyday life much easier plus providing professionals more job opportunities and potentials. Nannuka has been invested and supported by large famous organizations like Piraeus Bank, SKAI TV, IASO Children’s Hospital, Golden Hall, St George Lycabettus Boutique Hotel, Nickelodeon, Apivita and many more. Through Nannuka’s platform, users can browse and compare different profiles, post targeted job advertisements, get in touch with other organizations online, ask for personalized assistance for step-by-step guidance, receive reviews by parents and companies and references from employers. Since 2015, Nannuka secured more than 245.000€ in funding.
Do you worry that you don’t have time to make your shopping or you don’t know which is the best discount over a variety of products and services? This was also the case with Pockee’s founders until they created…Pockee! Pockee is a mobile coupon platform that connects famous brands and retailers in order to enable consumers get discounts on their everyday shopping without the need of printing the coupon (just by using your mobile phone!). Pockee’s founder, Mr. Tsairelis Zisis, supported that he was inspired by the financial crisis Greece faces over the last years, since the use of coupons was greatly exploited. However, the use of electronic coupons was somewhat unknown or not widely used. In the age of 33, having a strong 7-year experience in Super Markets, he decides to abandon his main career and invest on Pockee focused mainly on consumers’ basic needs and worries. According to Mr. Tsairelis “Pockee is the first and only application that has to do with mobile coupons for products located in super markets in Greece. Until today, there is no other application to offer the opportunity to consumers instantly redeem these coupons by using their smart phones” (Belegrinis, 2014) Until 2014, 15.000 consumers had used Pockee and its services in only less than 3 months. That’s a great number, isn’t it?
What do you think of taxi riding? Do you find it frustrating some times? Is it difficult for you to get a taxi when you want it, the way you want it? Have you experienced any undesired moments while riding a taxi? All of these questions were worries that Taxibeat’s founders though and created/developed our beloved Taxibeat!
Taxibeat is a mobile application organization that assists passengers quickly find the most suitable taxi for them (they choose their taxi-drivers according to their mini CVs!), and lets drivers connect to passengers via a fair reward system. Through the real-time application, Taxibeat’s team collect and “manipulate” data in such a way to move people around faster and with the best quality. Passengers have also the opportunity to grade and rank their taxi-drivers, so, they become recommenders but can also follow ratings of other passengers and choose taxi-drivers and car models according also to a variety of other services like WiFi, smoking free taxi riding etc.
Taxibeat’s CEO, Mr. Nikolaos Drandakis stresses that Taxibeat is not a taxi-company but a company that envisions changing Athens’ transportation and the way people see taxi-drivers and taxi-rides. Mr. Drandakis says that the organization’s expansion is not due to a sophisticated, complex marketing plan but from the word-of-mouth advertisement since users become recommenders both for other, unknown users and for their close friends and relatives. “By using technology” Mr. Drandakis says “companies are developed in rapid growth. By functioning in the taxi industry and collecting the appropriate data, we develop a technical know-how that can be applied in other areas as well to make a more functional city. By using Boxi, we learn how to “create” self-occupied individuals rather than strict professionals, and we apply this know-how in order to coordinate them. We plan to launch new services as well” (Taxibeat-Drandakis, 2015).
Jupitee is an online platform that creates native mobile applications for consumers/customers needs for an event, a business, a city etc without having web developing knowledge. Due to its cloud based management, consumers can manage the content and the design of their mobile application from a web self-service platform, without coding and decoding. What Jupitee’s team does is that they create consumers applications based on their branding and then the same team proceeds to the data entry. As a second step, consumers/clients review it, make adjustments and then Jupitee publishes it by submitting it on both Google Play and Appstore. Jupitee has succeeded to attract and keep huge accounts like Forum S.A., TEDx Academy, HAMAC, Cloudbiz, ALBA, Goldair Congress and many more. Within its one year of operation, Jupitee created and launched more than 30 applications and had more than 40.000 downloads!
As you realize, by reading all of the above information and by visiting these websites, you can do everything if you have THE idea and knowledge on technology. In order to create a successful and fruitful Start Up, you don’t have only to come up with an innovative idea (which is not a piece of cake, and I do not underestimate it at all!), but you have to use at its deepest the Internet and the offered benefits. With so many opportunities and tools the Internet gives to people/users, they can turn every single idea to an action. The Internet of Things is indeed…The Internet of ALL Things and it is offered to you!
Belegrinis G. (2014). Pockee: The Greek Start Up that saves our…Pocket. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.gr/2014/12/14/sinenteuksi-pockee-tsairelis_n_6324004.html
Burn-Callander R. (2014). Greek start-ups rise from the ruins: An unclassical revival is taking place in Athens, where start-ups are booming. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/globalbusiness/10931354/Greek-start-ups-rise-from-the-ruins.html
Burrus D. (n.d.). The internet of things is far bigger than anyone realizes. Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/insights/2014/11/the-internet-of-things-bigger/
Drandakis N. (2015). Taxibeat: Our Competitor is our habit to call a taxi by hand. Retrieved from http://www.toxrima.gr/taxibeat-drandakis-antagonistis-mas-einai-i/
Sofikitis K. (2015). Startup.gr Choice: Forky. Retrieved from http://www.startup.gr/index.php?about=89&id=5295
Vance J. (2014). 10 Hot Internet of Things Startups. Retrieved from http://www.cio.com/article/2602467/consumer-technology/10-hot-internet-of-things-startups.html