Ferryhopper: Enabling you to hop on any island you want!

Over the next few days, we will be focusing on stories of startup companies that inspire. These are stories of teams who have set up their operations in Greece and have managed to scale up quickly.

It may not be easy to start a business, especially when it deals with new processes or technologies. Moreover, with so many successful examples coming from countries abroad, it can be discouraging always reading about companies thousands of miles away. However, the good news is that such stories are occurring right here in Athens too, and we would like to share one with you.

Today we will introduce you to the story of Ferryhopper; one successful business which was founded right here in Athens, Greece.

Ferryhopper is a platform which allows travelers to find and purchase tickets from over 30 different ferry operators. Founded in 2016 by Christos Spatharakis, Vasileios Lahanas, Panagiotis Sarafis, and Aiden Short, the company has managed to sell over 200,000 tickets to over 160 destinations on its platform. At the forefront of the growing trend of the digitalization of travel services, the company seeks to revolutionize the way people travel by ferry.

How It All Started

Ferryhopper currently operates from Stone Soup’s office space, and we are very excited to have them here with us and to get to know the team better. To understand how the team have achieved their successes, we had a conversation with Vasiliki, their marketing manager.

 

“It started out with four guys. Two of them were electrical engineers from NTUA, in Athens and they later met again in CERN during an internship.”

The four founders were avid travelers who they found themselves constantly frustrated by the difficulties of travelling between islands in Greece. The team created Ferryhopper with the goal of developing a single platform that would streamline the island hopping process. They consolidated all of the ferry operators and developed an algorithm which allowed travelers to choose routes between islands, even if they were not directly connected. With an emphasis on providing great customer service and user experience, Ferryhopper allowed travelers to book tickets directly on the platform with no service fees.

As Christos explains, when entering a mature market filled with established players, without having prior experience or market experts amongst your team it is essential to focus on creating a solid product that solves an actual problem. What is also important is to find the right people for your team who are willing to explore solutions and experiment with novel ideas. In Ferryhopper’s case, once the platform was launched, they received more demand that what they projected – quickly validating their value propositions and paving the way towards receiving funding.

Securing Investments

As Ferryhopper scaled up over the years, the team began pitching their company to various investors. They received a 30,000 euro award from the Stelios foundation, and more recently, they raised 600,000 euros through a funding round including Metavallon and easyGroup in 2018.

“Our procedure was to create a pitch deck, and approach some possible investors. It was time consuming because we wanted to create a very strong pitch and we wanted the investors to understand exactly what our product was about.”

Although the company faced challenges during the pitching process, it ultimately paid off as they were able to negotiate an amount and secure the final investment from Metavallon – an investment which will allow the company to further bolster its tech infrastructure and support its international expansion.

Advice for pitching

For many companies, particularly younger startups, pitching to investors can be a daunting endeavor. As demonstrated by Ferryhopper, this is a very involved process can take a long time, so it is extremely important to persevere and keep the end goal in mind. To help businesses who are interested in securing their own investments, Vasiliki also shares another tip:

“The perfect tip would be to meet people who could consult you, give you real-time advice, and provide feedback on your pitch decks. We have many incubators here in Athens, and a lot of people who have done this themselves and successfully received investments. You need to have somebody with experience that you can turn to.”

At Stone Soup, we offer such business advice. You may opt in for the Open Office Hours. They are one-on-one sessions with experts in different fields. The sessions are free of charge and are open to all. Our objective is to share the knowledge beyond our walls and to strengthen the Digital Creative ecosystem in Athens.

What’s Next?

As for what’s down the line for Ferryhopper, the company wants to continue adding new features to its platform, and expanding its presence both at home and abroad.

“What we have in mind is an expansion towards the mediterranean this summer. Not only Greece, but Italy, Spain, and more.”

What are you waiting for? Hop on to Ferryhopper’s website now to plan your summer vacation in the Mediterranean today. You never know, you might just get inspired to build something new!

 

Starting a new summer internship with Stone Soup in Athens!

My name is Alex Huang, and I am a 21-year-old student from Toronto, Canada. I wanted to gain marketing experience and improve my leadership skills, so naturally I turned to my local AIESEC office where I was connected with a Digital Marketing internship at Stone Soup.

My Role

As the Digital Marketing Intern, I will be working on increasing the company’s online presence and managing its social media channels. Stone Soup’s vibrant, friendly, and community focused culture appealed to me from the start, and I look forward to working with the professionals at Stone Soup and around the local community!

Traveling Abroad

This is my first time in Greece, so I am excited to travel around the country and explore its various destinations. Coming from Canada, I am greatly appreciating the weather so far, and as someone who has been interested in photography for most of his life – I am very excited to begin capturing the beauty of this country with my camera.

Being able to travel and gain professional experience during university has always been a personal dream of mine, and I look forward to making the most of my summer here in Athens!

Join AIESEC

AIESEC is a non-profit organization which promotes youth leadership by facilitating internationals exchange opportunities to young people across the world.

Learn from the best aka Open Office Hours at Stone Soup Vol. 2

We open our offices to offer you value! In a previous article we introduced the philosophy behind our “Open Office Hours” initiative. We are excited that more professionals at Stone Soup are coming on board, making their time available to you and are happy to share their knowledge and expertise!

Today we will present Dimitris who is up for offering consultancy on web development and information architecture.

Technology is deeply rooted in our life and as we start a business, the online presence of our company and products is essential to make such business successful. A web developer is a crucial component to that success and for that reason our resident, Dimitris Perdikopoulos could help you understand the fundamentals and how you could move forward and evolve your online presence and most importantly your website.

Dimitris is a front-end developer with an professional experience of 8 years. He shares knowledge and studies both in web development and graphic design and has worked for several design studios like Bod Studio, G Design Studio, Kanella, before choosing to become a freelancer, and has had clients like ID&T, gregorys.gr, Eurobank.gr amongst others.

Through the lens of a specialist

Dimitris states that the most common challenge he faces in his work is that many clients ask for a website, because they believe they are supposed to have one, but without having first figured out what is the purpose of its creation. He supports that there are a number of questions we should answer before we decide to expose our business online.

Questions like; What is the need we want to cover when creating some digital appearance; what is the target group and what is the message we would like our audience to receive when looking at our page, will help us better organize and create our content as well as handle things like SEO. However, it takes a mentality of information architecture to transform in the most efficient way all this information, and present a customized interface that better suits each case.

Dimitris embraces this work-style and from the very first conversation with the person of interest he aims to understand their reason for entering the world wide web. Based on that he will come up with a unique system for them and visualize their requirements.

Thus, if you are in a point that you are looking for guidance in building your e-shop/ website from the ground up, optimizing/relaunching an already existing website, creating a platform of a kind, or SEO advice, gather your info and questions and wait for his availability to be announced.

#5 tips you need to know to start working remotely

The way of working is rapidly changing as a new professional culture is emerging, one that is swaying away from the traditional ways of doing business. This culture is evident in startups but is also gaining ground in more traditional companies throughout the world that are adapting to this reality.

The new era is bringing modern aspects to the workplace, and one of those is the concept of the remote worker, a professional who does not need a single workspace and is able to travel by bringing their work to any part of the world. But working remotely is not as simple as it sounds, it takes some skills and habits that most people don’t have and you can only master by trying and trying again. When you are juggling with work and traveling, if your don’t do it right you can ruin both experiences.

If your are aware of the possible risks and you are one of those who wishes to experiment with freedom while working, this list is for you! We present to you 5 tips to help you become someone who doesn’t need a permanent workspace.

#1 Find a workspace

It may be tempting to work from home or trying to bring your laptop to the beach or to the mountains to work, but for the sake of your productivity, you have to ultimately find a place that would minimize your distractions and that would help you do better in your work.

Most people think about working in the comfort of their home, coding, designing or writing in their underwear while laying in bed or the sofa. This might work for a few, but using your home as your workspace might mean that you don’t feel comfortable enough neither as a home or workspace, and being isolated or even start to feel lonely might affect your productivity in the long run, and even your mental state.

That’s why most of the remote workers recommend that you find a neutral place, that isn’t either your house or your office, some of them recommend to work on cafes, where you have food and good coffee, which is pretty useful if you find a cafe that suits your needs, and also, make it easier for you to travel and work in other places. The only drawback about working in cafes is the noise, especially if you need to present your work or make an important phone call and sometimes, the Internet connection is not on your side either.

To address that need, there are many coworking spaces that you may find in almost any city and they offer a professional setup to accommodate your needs while you work. At the same time, a shared working space offers great opportunities for meeting different people and business networking, that’s why such places are filled with remote workers and digital nomads all around the world.

#2 Plan and prepare

This might sound obvious but it’s always good to remember how important is planning yourself before starting working out of the office. You won’t have anybody to remind you what you have to do and when you have to do it. This freedom is great but you have to learn how to control and manage effectively your time and how to use your freedom in your favor.

To build your own work schedule and to work whenever you want is great and probably the quality of your work might be even greater because you mind and inspiration will be at your own time, but it is easy to lose focus and to procrastinate when you are not in your everyday office and routine.For that reason, building a schedule and organizing your tasks is a great thing to do and will help a lot with your productivity.

There are a lot of tools on the web to help with your task management and your organization, like Trello, that you can use on your computer and your phone and help you to organize your tasks and remind you when the deadlines are coming, Evernote, that is useful to keep your notes and to remember your tasks, and if you prefer analog methods, the Bullet Journal will help you organize our day to day tasks and do things efficiently.

#3 Improve your communication

Nat Turner once said that “Good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity”, and his words are very meaningful when you think about working remotely. If you do not meet with your coworkers or with your clients at a physical office space, you need to make the communication between you clear and effective or you won’t be able to collaborate successfully and deliver your goals..

Most communication may be achieved with on-line appointments and frequent calls or emails, but your time and your colleagues’ or clients’ time is precious, so, take extra care in making your points clear and make sure that at all times you understand and balance expectations on both sides. This will make easier to approach them after the meetings.

#4 Know exactly what you do and how much it costs

Pricing is a common hurdle that most remote workers face, especially when they are starting off. Once you don’t work in a specific place, it is hard to measure how much time a day you are working, and normally, people forget to count the time that they are spending searching for clients or having meetings, even though this is an important part of their work.

To runaway for that mistake, the best thing to do is to know exactly what you can offer, to define the services you provide and how much they cost on the market you specialize. Then you price fairly, and when you do that, you keep in mind that you need to be able to compensate for all the hours that you spend looking for your clients and all the extra things that you have to take care to keep your business running. We know, this is not what you are meant to do or your profession but hey, being self employed comes with a toll.

#5 Make contacts and meet people

Being independent is great, working for yourself is amazing, but you need to meet people and make contacts to work remotely, because you work for people and with people, and networking will help you to get through the hard times that you might find in this adventure that is working remotely.

Exploring the places that you visit, and talking to people you meet is a difficult task, but it gets easier the more you practice it, and it will be a rewarding experience for you, try to connect with the people that you speak, ask their opinion and bring out yours too, if you know someone that could be useful for other people that you have met, bring them together, they will feel grateful to you, and they will be happy to help you when you need.

There are a lot of networking events happening all the time and you can use Meetup to find about it, most of the people in this kind of events are looking forward to the same things that you are, and they will be happy to talk to you, so be open to that.

To that end, coworking spaces make serendipity interactions smoother, because you will find yourself amidst a lot of people working and you can improve your networking all the time. As simple as it is,  it’s important to get out of the house and meet people, and this spaces are built for that.

If you are working remotely or want to try it out, and you are interested in keeping up with new business trends, follow Stone Soup on Facebook and come to visit our coworking space, we could be exactly what you’re looking for!