According to Poulcheria, the thing she enjoys the most is that she gets motivated to keep on working even the days she feels the least like it. The way she describes this impact on her productivity resembles the effect of the population of a school of fish.
In nature it is common to encounter groups of fishes who are staying together for social reasons and swimming in the same direction in a coordinated manner. In a similar way, a dynamic coworking environment motivates one to be committed and keep on fighting their own battles so that they won’t stay behind but they will follow the destination of the larger group that is forward.
On days where I feel tired or disappointed, I enter this space full of people and see them overcome difficulties no matter what they face. Along with them, I find the strength and courage to continue too.
Giving and taking
Poulcheria’s favourite part of the day is when the magical little exchanges among the members of the coworking community happen. They occur either consciously or unconsciously but that is irrelevant because they are very impactful either way.
I love it when I am asked for advice. I feel useful offering to others and at the same time I feel as I am returning the favor because I am also receiving so many things from them, even if they don’t realise it.
Tips for the new generation
As an experienced professional Poulcheria gives value to the workspace itself. When we asked her what would be her piece of advice for the new generation of architects, she responded;
“It is said that in order to become an architect you have to own the three O’s;
1. Observation 2. Observation and 3. Observation !
This is one of the most essential qualities you need to own in order to succeed in every task you undertake. No matter what the workspace of your choice is, try to build a pleasant working base, but never forget how important is for our profession to be responsible, serious and detail-driven.”
We would like to focus this week on stories of Greek startup companies that inspire. Stories of teams coming up with new tech solutions to solve existing problems and manage to disrupt a whole industry.
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.
Ferryhoper: a new way to book your tickets for the Greek islands
We will introduce you to the story of Ferryhopper; one successful business that was founded right here in Athens, Greece.
Ferryhopper is a platform that 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.
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 has achieved its successes, we had a conversation with Vasiliki, their marketing manager.
The four founders were avid travelers who found themselves constantly frustrated by the difficulties of traveling 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 that 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 for their startup
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 that will allow the company to further bolster its tech infrastructure and support its international expansion.
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 for the Greek startup?
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!
Hey! Do you know the slack community ”Freelance Athens“? If you are a freelancer in Athens you should definitely go check it out! It is an initiative started by two digital nomads, Kim Gillick and Lucy Xu, based in Athens and its aim is to give the freelancers of Athens a nice, tight and functional online community to turn to when they are in need of some support!
Recently, we hosted their first event: “Staying Social as a Freelancer” here at Stone Soup. At the event, Kim and a very active nomad, Nathan Sudds, shared some useful insights and experiences relevant to Athens freelancers, helping the community to expand beyond an online-only presence! It’s been a successful and well organised event moderated and facilitated by Karolina Sieler, who recently joined the Freelance Athens’ team remotely.
Who is Karolina?
Karolina is from Poland and she has 6 years of experience as a teacher and a public speaker in England and Scotland. She used to be a university lecturer and – occasionally – a speaker at conferences all over Europe, until she realised she was craving a new challenge. After exploring new professional options for a bit, she initiated her first business by setting up a community for entrepreneurs, start-up owners and freelancers in London, called FBIZZ Freelancers Hub. She spent 2 years running events for the community, inviting speakers and facilitating panel discussions. She used the community’s platform as a ground for creating a business blog while she took her first steps as a freelancer. Two years ago, she decided to start a new chapter in her life and become a digital nomad.
Being a digital nomad: dreaming it vs living it
“My vision was to start from London and spend 5 years there, then go to Hong Kong for another 5 years, then New York etc. I was dreaming about living the big city life but only after a year and a half in London I realised it wasn’t right for me. Therefore, I decided to keep my work life in London and explore my opportunities in different places, including Athens.”
Being a freelancer may become frustrating and lonely. The reason Karolina appreciates Athens so much is for the vibrant city life that gives you the opportunity to build deep connections with local people, as well as, with other expats. This is the main reason she seeks for opportunities to engage and comes back whenever she is able to.
Karolina’s business and vision
Over the years, she has finally figured out the ideal business model that makes her happy and at the same time supports her financially. Karolina has built her own online platform supporting law students in the UK called 1stClassLLB. She creates online courses and runs a YouTube channel.
Both in London and in Athens, she tried at the beginning to work from home. She soon realised that she was missing the sense of belonging to a community or organisation. She was set out to find a coworking home and to be able to share workspace, initiate activities with other coworkers and potentially work on a common cause.
Karolina drops occasionally by Stone Soup and has joined Kim and Lucy, to fulfil their common vision, that is to unite the Freelance Athens community both online and offline. “I am very satisfied with my decision to work from here. Ever since I started I feel part of a big family, plus I witness myself being more productive!”