An Expat Family In Athens: Working On International Projects Remotely

Last six months, we had the pleasure to host George and Carla, a couple of marketers who traveled with their family from Barcelona to Athens! We talked with them about their international marketing projects and their experience as a family in Athens. We also inspired them to create content featuring Stone Soup! As part of his content creation aspirations, George just completed a Videography course in SAE! Stone Soup proudly starred in his first attempt at directing a corporate video!

Working remotely

Firstly, we asked them how they got involved in marketing as well as the pros and cons of working remotely. Before the family came to Athens they added many pins to the European map. Carla started working remotely back in 2015 after quitting her job at SoundCloud in Berlin. Back then she had already been away from her homeland, Spain, for 10 years and she was looking forward to finding her way back home. A friend was the one who connected her with a big digital project. Ever since she has remained working remotely either as a freelancer or in a permanent position. She describes her first few years as a “rollercoaster” as she craved social interaction with other team members. However, she now admits that she has mastered it and she truly enjoys the freedom she gets from working remotely. From her current perspective, going back to her previous life with a 9-5 office job seems distant and weird.

As for George, remote working came along with his promotion to a Regional Marketing Manager at SAE Institute 7 years ago. He points out that getting to work from anywhere as long as you have WiFi is very tempting. You only have to find the strength to defeat the “pyjamas syndrome”. Professionally his main challenge was to train, manage and inspire a team of young professionals exclusively from a distance. Interactions are limited to online tools and this fact consequently limits the dynamics between people.

George and Carla at Stone Soup

Marketing projects they are proud of


Their positions as marketers granted them the opportunity to work remotely and enjoy traveling all over Europe at the same time. They involve themselves in many facets of marketing, so we wanted to know more about their interests in this continuously expanding creative field. Carla enjoys working on digital marketing strategies. She loves thinking of ways to find the target audience of her clients online. She also finds challenging to plan out multiple a/b experiments to test what type of targeting may perform the best. As for George, he prefers working on social media projects as there is a more direct interaction with the audience. Aside from that, he likes running event promotion projects, as they move faster, with a greater variety in designs.

George and Carla marketing experts

Working in the marketing field means that you are designing projects that can be both impactful and creative! We asked our members to pick a couple of marketing campaigns they dealt with that are worth mentioning. George feels quite proud of a marketing campaign he runs across five countries, promoting a new portfolio of Games Production courses. It was challenging as he had to overcome cultural and market diversity issues and manage to create consistent storytelling. Carla could not help but point out that she is currently running a campaign to promote the platform adeccojobsforukraine.com. It is a portal created to connect employers with refugees and this goal motivates her to give her best. Any employer can sign up and upload their vacancies and the displaced workers can upload their CVs. It operates as an effective matchmaking platform supporting all the Ukrainians in this terrible moment of their life.  

Traveling to Athens

Their story continued in Athens, where they have been staying for the last six months. Together with their one-year-old daughter, Emma, they traveled to the Greek capital and decided to try focusing on their marketing ideas from here. They both agree that Athens is a lively and exciting city with plenty of things to do and international people to meet. They comment that strolling around may not be that easy but there are so many nice spaces to go to, like the Niarchos Foundation and the National Garden. There is no doubt that having a family limits the number of outings they can have. However, they have realized that there are also plenty of international families in Athens as well, even in Stone Soup!

Why work from a coworking space?

Working from a coworking space can help in achieving a work-life balance. They find it motivating to leave the house and add some flavor to their work life. If the coworking space neighborhood is full of choices (as it is in the case of Stonesoup), then even better! This way they can also pursue their interests as well. For example, aside from their marketing work Carla is exploring the digital art scene and curates content for her Digital Art District project on Instagram. They both find it inspiring to stay creative so they also do some paste-up street art together every now and then (instagram.com/lovnoir). When we asked them what is their biggest motivation lately, they passionately agreed that their number one mission and success story is named Emma, their fantastic daughter that rules their colorful world!

George and Carla part of Stone Soup family

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!

Empowering women in tech and advocating for ethical AI

Can AI create poetry? Will driverless cars navigate through Athens anytime soon? Will Facial Recognition Technologies be deployed in public places? One of our latest members can suggest many potential answers to these intriguing questions. Sacha analyses ethical guidelines and suggests policy frameworks on artificial intelligence (AI). She works for the nonprofit think-tank The Future Society that focuses on AI policy and ethics. We had the chance to speak with her about her research on AI and the role of women in tech, a field that she is motivated to promote. 

Sacha on the coworking rooftop

Getting into the tech industry and AI policy

Sacha is Franco-Chilean. She was raised in Paris and studied politics, philosophy, and economics in the UK, France, and the US.  During her Master’s studies in International Affairs in Paris, she participated in an exchange program in Boston. This decision was a turning point for her career in AI policy. It is during this exchange program that she met the co-founder and president of The Future Society, Nicolas Miailhe. While in Boston she became accustomed to AI and digital innovation, but also to the lack of women and minorities present in this field. 

She is an inspiring example to everyone who loves traveling and experiencing new ways of working with others. Furthermore, she did research about the lack of women in the tech sector: the gap is huge for reasons that are both social and economic. Her studies led her to argue that diversity (ethnic, gender, socio-economic, political) is an important factor to boost productivity and creativity in the workplace. 

Sacha on the rooftop

From theory to practice: working on responsible AI adoption  

Once back in Paris, Sacha was able to reconnect with The Future Society’s co-founder and evolve in an innovative, rapidly changing field. The Future Society specializes in the ethics and governance of AI while advancing its responsible adoption for the benefit of humanity. At the same time, they support the empowerment and active voice of women in tech. In the upcoming month, Sacha will work on Tunisia’s AI National Strategy.

She has also conducted research on different relative topics. These include the ethical challenges for the adoption of contact tracing apps, and the use of AI to fight against the pandemic (with the Global Partnership for AI). As a side project, she built a whole digital community of Affiliates, coming from 20 countries, to advance responsible AI adoption globally and support the organization’s workstreams. They share their views and experiences through a Slack group while using the Signal app for chatting.

Sacha and colleagues

Digital innovation & AI policy for a sustainable society

Sacha’s research on AI policy is about finding the right balance between capturing the upsides of AI and limiting its risks.

AI development can lead to curated educational programs and healthcare self-diagnosis on one hand, and online surveillance and political disinformation on the other. 
For example, Sacha notes that digital contact tracing apps used during the pandemic may be very helpful to identify clusters and limit the spread of the virus. But on the other hand, citizens may not use these apps, even when the design achieves high levels of data privacy, as they have lost trust in governmental authorities and are suspicious of technology using sensitive data! 
Moreover, Sacha underlined the example of automatization of work. Automatization done correctly can bring work-life balance with less working hours, more free time, and same or higher salary. We must change the way we think about labor values and measurements of productivity, she adds. Lifelong learning can help prepare workers for upskilling and repurposing of work goals and practices. 

Sacha and colleagues in Athens

“It is important to remember  that we are still at the dawn of AI adoption, so many paths are possible. We tend to think that the course of technology is linear, when actually we can collectively decide upon its trajectory.”

How does AI relate to remote work?

Digital innovation and AI policy are definitely related to coworking practices! So we asked Sacha to suggest tips and apps we can use while working remotely to keep our private data safe:

  • Using a Protonmail
  • Trying the Signal app
  • Connecting to a VPN
  • Installing an Adblocker is such a relief!
  • Checking the cookies on a website is truly crucial too! Let’s learn to avoid the “accept all” option!

The EU currently has one of the most regulated frameworks in the world (GDPR) so it takes two seconds to check your cookies!

The pandemic is an awakening call that teaches us to be able to organize ourselves in distance and work remotely. This can happen on a personal level. We learned from Sacha that Greece kickstarted the process to draft its AI strategy last summer. This builds on other local ongoing initiatives, such as the “AI and Rule of Law” Roundtable, which happens every October. According to the Chair Of the AI and Rule Law initiative, Nicolas Economou, who organized the second annual Athens Roundtable on  “AI and the rule of law” last October, this is a very promising initiative that will also help Greece digitize its public sector. 

Sacha in AI civic forum

Advocating for more women in tech

During her exchange in Boston, Sacha researched the reasons behind the lack of women and minorities in the tech sector. She shared some shocking numbers! According to a report published in 2019, there are only 18% of women researchers in the field of AI.  This inspired her to build curriculums and mentorship programs in AI policy and ethics to train more women in this field. And we might get a taste because we discussed planning an AI policy and ethics discussion group at Stone Soup too (of course we’ll let you know)!

Sacha coworker on rooftop

Working on digital innovation from Athens

Do you know what else boosts Sacha’s creativity? Athens itself! She ended up here during the pandemic when she realized that she doesn’t have to stay in a specific place to work. She admits that the sun makes her more productive. Athens is an underrated city in her opinion, still unnoticed by many apart on their way to the Cyclades, and she characterized it as the Berlin of the Mediterranean! She loves how the city flourishes artistically while conserving its original vibes. Because of her work,  Sacha is often thinking about the future, and in Athens, she finds the perfect balance to live in the present as well. And we are happy to add her ingredients to our pot!

Digital Art in Athens and beyond: a curator’s view

For Foteini Vergidou, 2020 was a milestone year for digital culture and contemporary art. Our new member is a curator, researcher, and project manager based in Athens. 

“2020 was a year of living online and I don’t know if there will be any difference between art and digital culture from now on.”

Her curatorial practice focuses on the impact of technological advancements on human relations, on human-machine relations, and between humans and their ecosystem. She explores issues related to cultural identity, climate change, surveillance, and big data.

We had a chance to speak with her about the current digital art scene of Athens and the value of digital media for contemporary artists. 

Foteini coworker member at Stone Soup

Exploring digital art: getting exposed to experiences abroad

Foteini represents a brain gain example. She obtained an MA in Interactive Media: Critical Theory and Practice from the Goldsmiths University of London. While studying she explored the contemporary art scene in London and indulged in her research interests before moving to Berlin to work in the iconic transmediale festival.  She stayed in Berlin for 3 years and worked as a gallery manager in DNA Berlin. Such an international and multicultural environment equipped her with an open mind towards work-related issues. As a result, living and working abroad made her realize that there is no center of experiences and no bipolar divisions between “us” and “them”.

She returned and settled in Athens in 2015. In that year,  Foteini worked as Coordinator and Project Manager for Kappatos Athens Art Residency Program. During this period, she collaborated with international artists such as Martin Creed, Roy Ascott, and Santiago Sierra. She also curated the Web Art exhibition category for the Athens Digital Arts Festival in Greece for the 11th and 12th editions. Most recently, she curated the Hysterophimia Pavilion, the Greek Pavilion for the 4th edition of The Wrong Digital Art Biennale (2019 – 2020) exploring the contemporary culture around Images, from selfies to big data. 

Since 2018, she has worked as Curatorial Advisor and Project Manager for the artist Kalliopi Lemos, developing research upon themes that center around migration, human rights, and gender injustice. At the same time, she worked on different projects in Athens and abroad promoting artists through digital media.

Online culture and physical community: two sides of a common goal

For Foteini, the experiences triggered and gained abroad can be developed in one’s own country. Physical and online interaction with audiences and other creative professionals, input and output of experiences, drive a successful exposure.

Thus, community and network building play an important part in her career. It is actually the first thing she advises every new artist to pursue through physical and digital media. On one hand, this is the reason she joined a coworking space. It offers a physical chance of socialization, necessary to bring together different perspectives and ideas among professionals. On the other hand, artists can achieve digital interconnectivity and exposure through investment in up-to-date online platforms and social media like Instagram. In the last few years, digital art and media became an upcoming field in Athens. The pandemic boosted this relatively new way of promotion and highlighted the importance of the transition to online representation.

Foteini coworker member at Stone Soup

Tips for new artists: digital platforms are the future

But how can an artist take advantage of the digital media available to promote their body of work? Foteini describes a few fruitful moves they can make: network building, social media, research in up-to-date websites, platforms, funding. An artist’s online presence should include a social media account, like Instagram, where they promote their artwork. Through this medium, their physical network can interact with them and give them feedback. 

Also, for Foteini the curative process is connected with a certain amount of research. Every exhibition is the result of a body of research that she deals with at a particular moment. Since 2017, she is an editor and writer at FerociousUrbanites.com, where she conducts research around issues that derive from our relation to technology. This is also an example of an up-to-date website with a strong focus on promoting Greek digital artists to an international audience. Browsing websites like this can offer artists and art lovers inspiration and information about online culture and digital art.

Since 2019, she is an active member of the TILT platform, bringing together creative people including artists, researchers, and theorists. She is always seeking collaboration with other professionals, coming often from diverse disciplines and practices, in order to develop synergies and joint projects. Her main goal is to conduct collective research, while forming an exhibition or a public intervention, in order to reveal different perspectives. The exhibition “Iasis” she curated for the TILT platform presented a body of work, artworks, educational seminars, and workshops, that investigated the political and social dimensions of global human activity. The TILT platform is an example of a network-building initiative for artists. Foteini compares it with a coworking space where members can interact and share their ideas and projects.

Foteini in an open coworking space

Picks ‘n tips for digital culture events & art-lovers

Foteini thinks that the contemporary Athenian cultural scene is experimental, as is the city itself. The pandemic has boosted the transition to online representation even though she agrees that there are limits. For example, both theatre and art exhibitions had to offer the audience an experience mediated by the Internet. Big and small institutions had to adapt to the new condition and the results are appealing to many. She points out that the initiatives to promote online culture from Onassis Foundation and the PCAI are worth “browsing”. Furthermore, digital media like Instagram are basic components of projects curated by 3137, an artist-run space in Athens. On the international side, she suggests visiting the  Top Museum (Tokyo Photographic Art) and the Overkill festival.

Foteini’s expertise as a curator is to manage all these tasks! And you are welcome to contact us and get in touch! She acts as a mediator between artistic expression and public perception. Nevertheless, she is a strong supporter of the “artist’s fee”, the payment that every creator must demand in exchange for the presentation of their work. She admits that the current focus on digital art, both in Athens and internationally, can pose new challenges for artists. Her advice to them is to always seek copyright and legal support before participating in online exhibitions.

Foteini in an open coworking space

“Always reinvent yourself and be adjustable”

This is what she learned and suggests to every art worker in the post-pandemic world. There is no need for a laptop if a creative professional pursues exposure and openness, values that she found in a coworking space. For her, coworking offers inspiration through interaction without the extra layer of workplace stress. And in these crazy times, a casual chat in a safe space can be more creative than ever!