Posts

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!

 

Do you have to leave Greece to start your career?

We talked to Daphne Xourafi this week and our conversation raised one daunting question.

Can you find work in Greece if you are a highly trained and skilled young professional?

The social and economic crisis has deeply affected the living conditions and opportunities in Greece, resulting in unemployment and a poor working environment. Human capital flight, or brain drain is usually described as a problem that needs to be solved.

However, there are benefits that can be derived from this process. The country can naturally profit when talented workers return with new competencies and carry the prospect to create better job possibilities for Greeks. Another phenomenon that also acts as a bridge between the Greek and the international scene is the attraction of foreign human capital. Professional nomads are not merely tourists but they come to Greece to start a new life. They spread a strongly desired global mindset by carrying professional, social and personal skills.

Usually, the returners and the nomads choose to shelter their activities in co-working spaces, like the creative hub Stone Soup, because of the limitless networking potential and the inspiration one such dynamic environment may offer.

The effects of brain drain are quite visible in our daily practice, but should we despair?

Daphne was introduced to us as a talented, young professional looking for opportunities abroad. She has spent six months in Paris, at Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines with the Erasmus programme, she holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communication and Mass Media from the University of Athens (UOA) and a Master’s Degree in Computer Animation and VFX from the University of Dundee.

Daphne is a passionate and determined person driven by her passion and ambition to distinguish in her profession. She has a broad range of interests and skills that she acquired during her education or she was self-taught, such as illustration, concept and comic art and 2D & 3D animation and she is already acknowledged for her work in some of these. In 2017 she illustrated a children’s book written by Cleopatra Deliou, a lecturer of Athens University of Economics and Business, and she released her own comic in Comicdom Athens Convention called “Requiem in Deep Blue”.

Both experiences were very important to build her confidence as an artist and gain constructive feedback to help her improve creatively and to build her network. A few months after graduating, Daphne returned to Greece, while seeking positions worldwide, in concept art, character design and animation, with the long-term plan to direct animation films. Asking for career advices she ended up at Stone Soup where she had the opportunity to network and to cowork on some freelance projects.

Daphne considers Stone Soup as an environment where global job possibilities come up all the time through getting to know all kinds of freelancers and you may find yourself committed in ongoing or future projects very naturally. Thus, she came to realisation that going abroad is not the only choice, because there are places for people to perform and network in an international setting in Greece too.

So if you are planning to leave Greece…

We hope we gave you enough reasons why you might want to drop by and check what is simmering for you here!

If interested you can reach here Daphne’s portfolio and LinkedIn profile.

 

International workshop on space and creativity

Space and creativity workshop, is landing on 2nd July at Stone Soup as a parallel session of