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Greece’s collapse creates a start-up revolution

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Everyone is well aware of the current financial crisis occurring in Greece and despite the recent election and the bailout measures, there is very little optimism towards Greece’s economic future. While the social structure is crumbling however, the desperation has created new opportunities for the educated youth looking for work. CNN reports on the new digital revolution that’s being fueled by Greek entrepreneurs:

The irony of this nascent Greek digital renaissance is that it probably wouldn’t have happened without the economic crisis. In pre-crisis Greece, most Greeks grew up wanting to be public servants. But now that the old clientist state cannot offer lifetime sinecures for university graduates, young Greeks coming out of university now have little else to do except invest their labor in start-ups.

“There’s no other option,” Tasos Frantzolas, the founder of Soundsnap who splits his time between New York and Athens, told me about this entrepreneurial renaissance in Greece. “People of my generation recognize this.”

John Doxaras, the CEO of Warp.ly who studied physics at Cambridge University and who now divides his time between Athens and San Francisco, agrees with Frantzolas. Given the crisis, Doxaras — a young man who is already on his third start-up — believe that young Greeks have “nothing to lose” and are “willing to take a risk.”

There’s a “big opportunity” in Greece, Doxaras told me because — given the relative insignificance of the local market – start-ups have to be global, both in their organization and their market. Warp.ly, for example, which offers big brands tools for mobile marketing, has its biggest client in Kuwait and, of its 22 fulltime staff, four are in the U.S., six in Europe and 12 in Athens.

In the Greek digital economy, even the smallest businesses have to be multinational.

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  • bob green

    When I moved from Silicon Valley to Vancouver Canada (a long time ago), I decided to start my software company in Vancouver instead of returning to Cupertino. Why? There were only a
    handful of potential customers in Vancouver and I put my office on a farm outside the city. In this way we could only succeed by creating a product and service that could worked for customers far away. Eventually the company had customers all around the civilized world (and we got the few customers in Vancouver, but they never got any special attention). 

    One disadvantage of Silicon Valley is that you are surrounded by a giant echo chamber. It is too easy to be swept up by the latest fad. In a far away place you can few Silicon Valley ideas with a rational skepticism and it is easy to be more practical.

    Your story on Greece was very interesting.

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