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COVID-19 and coworking in Athens

Are coworking spaces closed because of COVID-19?

Numerous countries around the world are in the beginning stages of managing their own outbreaks, in each country the situation is very different and governments make their own decisions about how they can deal with the virus best. In Greece, it’s been a week since most companies and organizations were instructed to conduct their businesses remotely.
It’s crucial that we all follow our country’s respective measures and instructions for our health and protection. Even if Stone Soup is not directly obligated to stay closed, we have taken all precautionary measures and since March 12th we are not accepting any new members. As all coworking spaces are based on the social interaction of their members, we have recommended to our members to work from home as much as possible.

Stone Soup coworking community

This abrupt lockdown and necessity to work from home, is disruptive and apart from having to recalibrate your tasks and your own workspace, you may also face difficulty to concentrate and a feeling of solitude. This is why coworking space operators are exploring how we could work together online and keep the human interaction alive. 

To keep the community of Stone Soup active we boost our communication on online channels like Slack. Feel free to visit the #westaytogether channel to get webinar invitations, to share things to do, to arrange video calls, to share yoga videos or to start a group for people to enjoy online video games together, and many more ideas. COVID-19 virus shouldn’t put the coworking spirit in Athens down!

Stay tuned ’cause from Monday 23rd and on, we will start our Virtual Coworking (VC) sessions. At 10:30 we are going online and we want to see familiar faces and hear familiar sounds, while we all focus on our tasks. If you can’t do without this passive ambience of an office space full of people getting work done, join us! Let’s cowork virtually in Athens, and lets – under these peculiar circumstances- try to minimize the side-effects of COVID-19 and all negative thoughts.

You will get the rest details about Stone Soup’s VC operation through Slack by the end of the day!

The best coworking spaces in Europe: Find yours in Greece

We are very happy to be mentioned in the latest Nomad Capitalist article, titled: “The best coworking spaces in Europe”. It feels great when your hard work gets recognised!

Are you a digital nomad? 

Nomad Capitalist is all about helping people like you “go where you’re treated best”. You may read the full article here and when the road leads you in Athens would be fun to pay us a visit!

Embracing the nomad lifestyle entails so many opportunities for expanding yourself either professionally or personally. Changing your basis frequently can be super exciting and could rock your world as you have the potential to meet so many people, be exposed to new ideas, different cultures and try new things.

How do you achieve to get some real influence?

It is helpful to keep track of local meetups and checking the local fb groups for digital nomads to find events relevant to you and generally keep an exploring attitude. Or you could go straight to the source of all the magic itself and mingle with the locals at hubs while you’re also having your work done. In a previous article we shared some tips you need to know to start working remotely and we vote for the first and fifth suggestions we mentioned there. Sharing some real time conversations on your break time with people from the local community may lead you to discover so many more than what you could merely by yourself.

Find your hub/ coworking space

Wherever you may happen to be, there are plenty of options for creative hubs and coworking spaces all over the world. Helping you with that choice there are numerous articles reviewing the crop of the cream of them, and many platforms (e.g. coworker etc) where you may find actual ratings of them. 

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

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.

Disrupting the tourism business

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.

“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 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.

Advice for pitching your business

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!