Greece has not been the most active startup destination for the last three decades… until the economic crisis became a cruel reality and affected everyone’s lives. Today we find several organisations that promote startup meetings and disseminate knowledge. And we want to be part of this up and coming culture.

So, we came back to Porto Rafti to spend some time with family and friends and to follow closely the startup scene in Athens. For those that are not familiar with the territory, Porto Rafti is a summer resort for Athenians who cannot stand the heat of the metropolis. It is far enough to give you a feel of the country side and close enough to visit the latest meetings. Combining business with pleasure should be our trademark!

The moment we arrived we started meeting startups in the area. There seems to be an underlying buzz in all kind of business activities. There are no jobs around, and the few that still remain are underpaid and, in some cases, downright abusive. The population is looking for a way out of the crisis and they started considering becoming the proud owners of a small business. What kind of examples and Role models do they have, though?

Entrepreneurship goes as far back as three millenia and beyond. The entrepreneurial Odysseus, the mythical king of Ithaca, is probably the first attested semi-historical figure. Odysseus participated in the war against Troy but only reluctantly. He was too much of a free spirit to obey to the commands of his betters. He employed several stratagems to survive the war and to return to Ithaca almost intact. I am saying ‘almost’ because in the process he lost all of his followers/ comrades in arms. He is best known for devising the Wooden Horse that caused the downfall of Troy.

Several thousand years later the Greeks are fighting for survival once more. Only this time, they seem to have forgotten of the brave Odysseus. Their role models are their fathers and mothers who were very much part of the system; a system that was centralised, beaurocratic and unable to follow the latest technological trends. Andrea Papandreou’s coming into power may have created a powerful welfare state, which benefitted the people. However, the same state became so obsessed with the public sector that ‘killed’ all entrepreneurship in the process.

Should the new generation look for role models only in the distant past, the Homeric myths of Troy? Of course, not! Technology and the ability to speak several languages allows us to become part of the globalised movement of new startups. Twitter, facebook, linked-in, several blogs, youtube channels, they all give us clues on the revolution that is taking place worldwide. Use them or lose them!

Current commendable efforts to light up entrepreneurship in Athens are:
Athens Startup Weekend
Ignite Athens
Open Coffee

In the next posts, I will start giving links to several of these resources with brief reviews.

In the meantime, you could read my post on the No. 1 Mistake New Entrepreneurs Make