Startups in Athens: Innovation made with ROKOKO

Petros Stone Soup Athens Coworker

Have you ever wondered how your favorite animation or video game is so life-like and realistic? Well, it’s probably because the developers used motion capture hardware and software, like the ones designed by Rokoko, our latest members!

We had a chance to speak with Petros, the Administrative Director of the Greek tech hub of Rokoko in Athens. He shared with us how it’s like to work with Rokoko, the competitive advantages of their tech products, and how online platforms help to build a digital community of creators.

The mocap technology 

Motion capture is the process of making human (and sometimes animal) motion digital. With the help of optical sensors or in Rokoko’s case, small sensors, an actor transmits the motion data to a computer. The captured data is then used for animating 2D or 3D models. In-game development and filmmaking, motion capture is an unparalleled method for making animated characters move more realistically. Rokoko has developed the Smartsuit Pro and the Studio software in order to deliver a complete service.

A Danish Startup in Athens

The Rokoko headquarters and the company’s supply chain are based in Copenhagen, while in Athens there is a tech hub focusing on tech support and software. Petros explained how the Greek branch sprang in Athens back in 2015. It all happened by chance! Some members of the Danish team visited Greece for a private event and met a Greek developer. At first, they started a loose freelance collaboration. As the time passed, the team grew organically from five to twenty people! The Greek company was officially set up in 2020 and has been expanding since then. 

So what’s it like to work for a tech startup in Athens? Petros noted that Rokoko is a startup in a scale-up process. Growing “from 5 people to a village” means that things are constantly in flux. A tech-oriented and relaxed work environment in the center of Athens proves truly exciting, especially for young professionals. Another appealing asset is that working in a creative tech position means that one must take ownership of the projects. It’s also really interesting that Danish and Greek cultures clash so it’s kind of a shock for Greeks who are used to a hierarchical system in the workplace. Adapting to a horizontal work culture means that team members can go with the creative flow and enjoy a relaxed environment. 

Some ongoing research projects might be used for commercial reasons or might be thrown away. That’s how innovation works and this is one of the most exciting aspects of working for a tech startup like Rokoko, according to Petros.

Making technology accessible to all creators

But how is innovation transferred into the market? Rokoko’s main competitive advantages are accessibility, affordability, and the way it offers a full-body tracking solution, covering body, fingers, and face. Big studios use point systems of reference that a camera has to detect for motion capture. Rokoko, on the contrary, developed hardware that uses sensors on the  Smartsuit Pro and the Smartgloves, which do not require a camera. As a result, the whole operation is much more affordable. This is the reason why Rokoko equipment is accessible to small and independent creators who make up more than 80% of the company’s customers. In addition, using their Studio software to gather all the data, you can get hyperreal results straight into your screen! Petros also revealed to us that we should expect much more to come in the future.

One such upgraded product is the Smart Suit Pro II that will be out in early 2022 and anyone can pre-order already! 

Can you imagine being able to impersonate your favourite video game character? Well, Shutter Authority’s VFX videos are #madewithrokoko!

Are you a fan of Lil Nas X? His video clips are #madewithrokoko!

Building a community

How to bring creators together? Petros underlined the importance of scaling up the digital community that Rokoko has been building. Users share stories on Instagram adding the hashtag #madewithrokoko while all creators can interact and share tips through a Discord channel. Rokoko’s customer base consists mainly of independent creators so bringing them together in an active and sharing digital community is crucial for strengthening their voices. Apart from learning more about possible ways to create content, another incentive for creators is the chance to win hardware and software prizes (last year the company awarded one of the biggest bundles ever)! In a digital world, there is no need for a formal submission so #madewithrokoko is all that it takes to register! 

What’s coming up?

Rokoko established a tech hub in Athens just before the pandemic. Because of that, they didn’t have the chance to host any networking events. Open innovation is one of their values, so Petros highlighted their effort to cooperate with universities. They try to approach educational institutions so that students can do their academic projects while getting professional experience in Rokoko. The buzz expected from the launch of the Smartsuit Pro II is going to be huge so more events are coming both in Athens and abroad! We are beyond lucky to have them in our workspace and we can’t wait to see what realities they’ll take us next!

#10 FAQs about coworking: A practical guide for Athens, Greece

“We have the talent. We just need to work together. Different environments need to overlap, connect, and interact in order to transform our culture. In order to create a sustainable community based on trust, we value”:

  •    collaboration over competition
  •    community over agendas
  •    participation over observation
  •    friendship over formality
  •    people over personalities
  •    value ecosystem over value chain

These are some lines straight out of the coworking manifesto published more than 10 years ago! Does coworking still sound relevant to you?

After two years into this world-changing pandemic, the answer is more than obvious. Remote working has become the norm while more and more professionals seek new ways of balancing work and life and living off their passions. Millennials and GenZers, who are always craving new experiences and travel around the globe, prefer working from different destinations instead of an unchangeable and set office. And one of those up-and-coming coworking pins on the map is the Greek capital, Athens!

We strongly believe in the idea of flexible workspaces and we love to see our community expanding, for that reason we thought it would be a great idea to present you with:

#10 FAQs about coworking in our beloved city of Athens!


1. What is coworking and who is a coworker?

Athens Coworking

Coworking is the new way of reaching your professional and personal goals! If you just need your laptop and good Wifi to work from anywhere, or if you just can’t stay in the same office (or city) on a long term basis then this is your ideal way of working! Coworking means working alongside together. Sharing a workspace with people who may possibly become your friends or fruitful networking contacts but are NOT necessarily your colleagues. Coworking means that it’s your choice to hang out with them today or focus entirely on your projects tomorrow by setting your limits. Coworking means neither one-way socialization nor professional solitude. 


2. What is a coworking space?

A coworking space is a place where you can have all that! Essentially, it’s a shared workspace that offers flexible options for all professionals. The layout may vary but usually, it incorporates co-working areas, private offices, and common areas in its premises: Coworking areas include an arrangement of hotdesks for members to work from, private offices for those who want their own closed space, and common areas like kitchens, terraces, and lobbies where all of the above share a cup of coffee together! Common areas are essential for socializing and every coworking space has its own meeting point! Moreover, coworking spaces include meeting rooms and/or call rooms. This way members can hold business meetings and communicate with their clients and partners from all over the world!

3. What kind of coworking spaces are there in Athens and where are they located? 

Athens has become a truly attractive destination for ex-pats, and at the same time, locals are seeking new working environments and are longing to socialize in the after-COVID19 era.  That is why many different types of coworking spaces have sprung up as well! You may find everything in the Greek capital and there are online search engines specifically for this, like coworker.com. You may find coworking franchises, international hub brands, and independent Greek businesses like Stone Soup! These workspaces are scattered all over Athens, from Marousi in the North to Exarcheia, and all the way to Peiraeus next to the port. 

4. Is the location of a coworking space important? 

You can imagine that even if we live in a digital world, coworking spaces are still physical, so location is important! Make sure that you pick the one that suits your everyday urban explorations! If you fancy the northern suburbs of Athens and their classy restaurants, parks, and calm ambiance, look for coworking spaces in Kifisia or Marousi. If you prefer to follow the urban vibes and stay in touch with everything that goes around in the contemporary Athenian scene then the center of the city is a must-be. The center of Athens has plenty of coworking spaces so if you are looking for a taverna in Psyrri, a bar in Exarchia, or a gallery in Koukaki then there are many coworking spaces to pick from. And lastly, it’s the Greek Riviera in the south where there are a couple of options as well! If you are driving then parking is important! Coworking personnel will be happy to share with you the best cost-effective options around their area but they usually do not include parking fees in their membership options.

5. What are my membership options when I want to join a coworking space in Athens?

In almost all spaces you will find a wide range of memberships to match your needs. There are packages starting from a few hours and daily passes to monthly plans and long-term agreements! Each coworking space in Athens usually has its own policy, but flexibility is one of the most important attributes! How much would you stay in your ideal workspace? No need to answer right now! Feel free to try whatever suits you and your timetable and you can always upgrade or downgrade later. Don’t hesitate to ask the community manager on the spot for the most convenient solution.


6. What is a coworking desk? 

A coworking desk is the main element of a coworking space: Ιn the coworking slang we call it either a “hot desk” or a “dedicated desk”. In the first case, there is a first come first served rule and coworkers pick a different desk each day depending on availability and on how early they arrive at the coworking space. In the second case, coworkers are assigned to a dedicated desk for exclusive use and it usually includes more office amenities, like a locker or other furniture, and you get all that with an upgraded membership.


7. What is a private office in a coworking space?

Except for the desks in the open areas of a coworking space, you may also find some closed areas that serve as private offices. If your project requires privacy, if you run a team or if you just prefer to work in solitude but you still want to have a cozy chat during lunch and coffee breaks then you should go for this option. Private office tenants usually have access to their offices 24/7 so they can drop by whenever they feel inspired to get back to work! It is also a great way to have your team gathered together in the same space without having to worry about long-term leases, commitments, and monthly utilities!

8. What is a meeting room?

Are you ready to have a creative brainstorming session with your team or partners? Is an important client coming and you are looking for a place to host your meeting? Do you have one of those long zoom calls and you want to feel comfortable in a professional setting? Those are reasons to book a meeting room! Some meeting room hours are usually included in a coworking membership or there might be an extra cost. If you are not a member and just want a meeting workspace for a day or more this can work for you too!

Coworking in Athens


9. Can I find professional equipment that I can use in a coworking space? 

Usually yes! It depends on what each space has to offer and what you need! Is it a monitor or a TV? An ethernet connection? A printer? Is it a 3D printer? Is it a copy machine or a scanner? Most workspaces offer monitors as a minimum since they are a must-have for a creative professional. These are either included in membership or you can rent them as an add-on at an extra cost. Advanced services like ethernet connection or phone lines are in most cases available on demand; their installation cost varies according to the agreement you have with each space. Never hesitate to ask for all those little things that will make you feel more comfortable and creative!

10. Can I bring my four-legged friend with me?

Most coworking spaces are inclusive of cats and dogs but they require a heads up before you decide to bring along your fluffy friend. Feel free to ask what a workspace’s policy is on that!

Do you have any more questions about coworking? Let us know!

Collaborative workspaces are here to stay and the new ways of working remotely that came up during the pandemic boosted their importance. Flexibility is awesome only if you are the one who’s choosing your desk and your community of coworkers! If you are in Athens, why don’t you check out the available coworking spaces and see which one will make your everyday life a little more extraordinary? 

Athens lockdown: opportunities and challenges for freelancers

Meet Ambre, our coworker from the French city of Bayonne in the Basque country! She is a copywriter and translator (English and Spanish to French) for e-shops and commercial websites. She got her first job offers through the translation and copywriting agency Textmaster and she now works for a network of regular clients and agencies that offers her a steady workflow.  We had a chance to speak with Ambre about the pros of online work and how did she cope with the spring and winter lockdowns in Athens. We also asked her how did she end up in Athens in the first place, and how did she experience the lockdowns as a freelance worker.

This is her story.  

The pros and cons of freelance work

After obtaining a Master’s degree in international purchases and logistics Ambre worked for five years, until 2017, for different companies in Paris. After evaluating the experience she gained from this kind of fixed work she decided that she needed a fresh start. She left Paris and started a small business in the fashion industry that seemed hard to succeed. So she looked for something different driven by her other passions, languages, communication, and reading. Copywriting and translation services proved a field where she felt truly comfortable.

Working as a freelancer gives Ambre the freedom she looked for. She remembers that during her previous 9 to 5 work scheme she felt stuck in a structured and hierarchical workplace. When talking about the pros of freelancing she mentions the ability to organize her free time and to write about different fields that appeal to a curious personality. When it comes to the cons she adds that in a globalized market there is competition for the same job and fewer quality offers. Before forming personal links with her clients she used to grab every opportunity. 

Ambre freelance work at Stone Soup

Picking Athens for remote work: before and during the lockdown

Ambre works remotely and she agrees with the concept of nomadic work. When she left Paris she went to Seville, Lisbon, and Bayonne before choosing Athens with her partner. She laughs remembering that she didn’t know anything about the modern city, just that it was an affordable place! They first came in January 2019 and started exploring different places in Greece. 

In March 2020 everything changed! At the beginning of the first lockdown, she was working as a content creator for a tourist journal. It was shocking when the company told the copywriters that they could not work anymore. At first, she was feeling a lot of insecurity and uncertainty. Her (already remote) work did not change but she was really bored because she had no other choice but to work! Her narration of the life during spring lockdown is revealing: “waking up, yoga, working, working, working, yoga!” Work was an escape from the fear but in a depressing way that made her feel stuck. Athens was in a cocooning phase too and Stone Soup was closed. So it was her home that was both a workplace and a safe space.

Ambre freelance work

Remote work after a calm summer: and another lockdown in autumn!

Summer was a calm and relaxing time for Ambre. Traveling to Santorini and meeting with friends was an escape from the numbness of spring. But in autumn restrictions were re-imposed again and freelance workers like her had to deal with another Athens lockdown in November. But this time both coworking and online work emerged stronger than before. She clarifies that the digitalization of small businesses drove up the demand for online content creators. As a result, autumn began with hopes up. She gets the chance to walk to Stone Soup and see friendly faces. She walks from her home in Petralona to her coworking space early in the morning and enjoys the sun rising and the quiet ambiance (fewer people and more cats on the streets!). Athens feels cozier in this controlled freedom state now.

Coworking seems like an excuse, a way to get out, take coffee breaks and feel like we are all in this together, she adds. The feeling that comes up first in her mind when she thinks about coworking is socialization!

Looking forward to a post-lockdown Athens

“PARTY HARD!” That is what Ambre misses the most! She is not a fan of the digital social life of the pandemic world and wants to see people again. Discovering more of Greece (“what about a road trip to the Peloponnese?”) is another goal along with climbing Mt Olympus! The Athenian cultural sites like the National Museum of Contemporary Art and the small bookstores are the places she cannot wait to visit again. Physical activities she used to do like yoga and volunteer teaching of English to refugees in a real classroom for the Za’atar NGO will also be more than welcome in her everyday life again. Her online work for companies like Sweet Small Pea, MonPlanCBD, and Agence Boca will feel even more exciting then. Athens will feel authentically charming again and the real-life small neighborhoods can be explored after some evening drinks with her Stone Soup friends such as Jelia! At the end of the day, we saw the limits of the digital way of living, she concludes, and it is time to re-appreciate what we miss and hope for.

Coworking empowers a lifestyle of diversity

Diversity is the product of community and collaboration blended together with openness. This is, after all, one of the key reasons people want to be part of a coworking environment. This allows them to diversify their vision and experience by collaborating with people from different backgrounds, interests, experiences, and thinking. By creating a community of experiences we try to bring together various perspectives and opinions of people who share a feeling of mutualism. 

Jelia

Jelia has always been looking for diverse experiences and new links. She has chosen Athens to be her new home and she recently joined our coworking community. Since it is one of our core values, we discussed why she is constantly seeking diversity both in her work but also in her lifestyle.

“We carry so many places within us and it’s through these places that we see everything new.”

Safe Passage Reunification

This is what it feels for Jelia when she travels to a new community and gets to meet new people. Coming from a diverse background herself, Jelia is originally from Senegal but she was born and raised in London. She is a lawyer at Doughty Street Chambers working remotely from Greece and she specializes in refugee law, human rights, and international criminal law. Working on a diverse range of issues in these areas, she provides legal assistance to unaccompanied child refugees seeking family reunification in Europe, and to victims of mass crimes seeking to access justice. Jelia joined Stone Soup in October and we had the chance to speak with her about her coworking experience in the diversity of Athens and the importance of inclusion in a community.

Travelling for diversity: Jelia’s background

Jelia studied Law and Spanish language at the University of Sheffield in the UK. She also studied in Barcelona for a year before pursuing a Master’s degree at UCL. After finishing her studies she worked abroad in different parts of the world from Argentina and Colombia to Cambodia. As a result, these travels truly enriched her vision of a world where diversity plays a core part. She first came to Greece in 2016, to work as a volunteer in the camp on Samos island. In 2018, she was able to come back to Greece for another volunteering stint, this time with Safe Passage. And that’s where her story with Athens begins.

Jelia at Stone Soup

Living in Athens: diversity seems familiar

Jelia has been living in Athens for two and a half years since then. For her, Athens is spatially diverse and is “becoming” culturally complex too. So, she loves the ecosystem of the center of the city because it is imperfect and not homogenous. Moreover, she enjoys the diversity of the urban small streets, the micro-neighborhoods, and the variety of independent coffee shops and small businesses. She also likes to cycle and walk in the area of “petroukaki”, which is the name she gave to the Petralona and Koukaki areas! In general, she highlighted the feelings of familiarity this imperfect environment creates in her. It reminds her of all the different cities she has lived in, like Buenos Aires. Driving in Greece is terrible like in Senegal too, she adds! Jelia notes that living in Athens has deepened her work because she is more directly exposed to migration. As a result, she can better understand the needs of the community she is trying to help.

Coworking in Athens: diversity in the workspace community

Jelia at Stone Soup

The choice of coworking in the diversity of Athens has offered her more work-life balance than London, she admits. The city doesn’t stress her out and meets her needs while she is trying to integrate. She decided to join a coworking space because she felt isolated and stressed working from home during the lockdown. She picked Stone Soup because the privacy she can have makes her feel settled. Now she laughs when she gets home and only has to say “Hi, flat!”. As a self-employed professional she needs both privacy and proximity to an everyday community. Her work and traveling experience add to her words about the elements she looks for in a workplace: “People always bring diversity and complexity and that enriches a community”. So, for Jelia, the coworking community should be a respectful place where people can express themselves without fear in these crazy times. She also works as a human rights consultant for the United Nations and NGOs. Her part-time work for the NGO All Survivors Project, which focuses on male survivors of sexual violence in war zones (gay, trans, non-binary), highlights the need for a safe space for everyone who challenges the norms.

Coworking for diversity in Stone Soup

The Stone Soup philosophy and Jelia’s work experience are based on the pursuit for inclusion and the expression of diversity. Here, Jelia adds, you can choose your friends because there are no office politics among the coworkers. Here, she gets to learn about tech and algorithms from Paulin and meet people who can be friends and not colleagues. She misses many things from pre-pandemic Athens though. But there is one thing she can’t wait to have once again: live concerts and drinks on the roof!

Jelia wears a mask