When I left Athens, Greece, over a decade ago, startups were definitely not cool. In fact, there were no tech startups at all. Since then a lot has changed. Tech entrepreneurship has become a global thing and, inspired by cultural influences like The Social Network in addition to more serious factors, hackers all over the world want to build the next big thing.
Despite the Greek government-debt crisis and the high unemployment rate, tech-savvy Greek folks are following the global trends and forging ahead to create their own jobs by founding promising early stage ventures. Tech entrepreneurship has become a legitimate career option for many of Greece’s ambitious youth; perhaps they can contribute into turning the economy in a few years time?
The Greek startup ecosystem definitely has a high energy level currently, but it faces many challenges. In any case, there is a lot going on there. And because of this momentum, we’ve decided to host a TechCrunch Meet Up in Athens on January 4, 2013. The primary purpose of this meetup is to foster awareness of the Greek entrepreneurial ecosystem, help connect everybody involved in it, and surface role models for the Hellenic startup community.
We’ve culled some of Greece’s most promising founders, accomplished entrepreneurs, active VC investors and passionate startup ecosystem builders and have filled three+ hours with insightful panel discussions and stimulating fireside chats followed by a very lively networking session where geeks, startup enthusiasts, and founders can mingle. If you happen to be in Athens during that time, you can register here for free.
Like the first TC Athens Meetup, this TechCrunch meetup is organized in collaboration with OpenCoffee, an organization instrumental in helping to build the tech community in Greece. Amazon Web Services will generously provide drinks to the participants.
I will be moderating the event along with Mike Butcher, TechCrunch’s European Editor, and Niko Bonatsos (@bonatsos), co-founder of the SV Greeks & Greekamericans Club and VC at General Catalyst Partners (Disclosure: Niko and I are in a relationship).
The agenda of the TechCrunch Athens Meet Up is below. And I promise this will go way better than the last time I touched upon the topic of Greece.
• 5.00pm – 5.15pm: Opening Remarks by Alexia Tsotsis, co-editor at TechCrunch and Niko Bonatsos, co-founder of SV Greeks & Greekamericans and VC at General Catalyst Partners.
• 5.15pm – 6.00pm: Greek Founders’ Panel: Panos Papadopoulos (BugSense), Alexis Pantazis & Emilios Markou (Hellas Direct), Nick Drandakis (Taxibeat), TBD (People Per Hour). Moderator: Alexia Tsotsis.
• 6.00pm – 6.15pm: Break
• 6.15pm – 7.00pm: Ecosystem Builders’ Panel : Stavros Messinis (CoLab), Yorgos Koutsoyannopoulos (HSIA & Helic), Dio Synodinos (Greece JS & InfoQ), Bill Vatikiotis (Ruby Euruko) and Fotis Draganidis (Microsoft Innovation Center). Moderator: Mike Butcher.
• 7:00pm – 7.15pm: Fireside Chat with Marco Veremis (Upstream).
• 7:15pm – 8.00pm: Greek Investors’ Panel : George Tziralis (OpenFund), Vassilis Theoharakis (PJ Tech Catalyst), Spyros Trachanis (Odyssey Venture Partners), Dimitris Kalavros-Gousiou (HackFwd). Moderator: Niko Bonatsos.
• 8:00pm – 10:00pm: Networking Session.
As Greece has a very rich history, we could not help but hold the TechCrunch Athens Meet Up somewhere just as illustrious — the famed Benaki Museum in Athens. This venue has generally been pretty welcoming for Greek founders and geeks, as all OpenCoffee Athens events over the past three years have been hosted there, too. Special thanks to Microsoft Hellas for contributing to secure the venue.
We hope to see you all there, so register now here.