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!

 

Getting started with my internship at Stone Soup, by Valesca Ribeiro

Hello, my name is Valesca, I am 24 years old and I live in Brazil. I have a bachelor degree in Organizational Communication and now I am studying Marketing Management. I got my internship at Stone Soup via AIESEC, a global platform that aims to cultivate leadership amongst young students.

I arrived in Athens this week and I will stay for a couple of months. I love to explore new cultures and meet people; that is why immediately after my graduation I traveled to Australia. I stayed there for a year and a half studying and working. When I got back to Brazil, I decided to continue with my studies and traveling plans. When I saw the opportunity to come to Greece I applied without hesitating. Now I am here ready to learn and collaborate with the Stone Soup team.

Being in a different country may be challenging, but it is also a great opportunity to push my boundaries and mature professionally. Stone Soup is a coworking space and consultancy firm and their vacancy caught immediately my attention. When I first heard about the coworking concept, I found the idea intriguing, because I thought it could shake down traditional market models. I believe that my internship here is going to be a great opportunity to expand my knowledge and get connected with people in different areas and learn about marketing and beyond.

 

 

 

The Coworking Space Concept: Through the Lens of an Intern

After working at Stone Soup for the past 2 months, I can easily say that the community of people working in this space are welcoming, kind, and made the transition into an entirely different culture, almost effortless for me. I was introduced to many aspects of the local culture through food and drinks, by my coworkers – which is reflective of the kind of place the Stone Soup is.

Throughout my stay, I conducted interviews with several Stone Soup residents, which gave me a more specific insight into what they were doing and what lead them to their current position. This also gave me the chance to properly meet the people in the office, that I was seeing every day, in an organic and informal way. To a college student like me, hearing about how career paths can differ so drastically, is knowledge that both placates my worries about the future, and excites me for what’s to come.

                                           

I also gained experience with SEO marketing, which I previously knew nothing about. My understanding of SEO is very multi-faceted in the way that I was taught about it – I learnt about SEO from many different people around the office, who gave me many approaches to tackle SEO, which I could look at and consider on my own. This form of interaction, in which ideas and knowledge can be exchanged at many levels, with different attitudes, is something that about the coworking space concept that I highly appreciated.

My unique experience here can be attributed to a variety of factors, but an overarching theme revolves around the different kinds of people that I have continually met throughout my stay. The diverse job-fields that I encountered within Stone Soup, broke down the preceding connotations and traditional assumptions that I had about the “work place”. The benefits of a coworking space span a much larger scale than I had previously anticipated – the framework is not limited to startups, but is rather a window into the way that different local and social networks can function.

Many aspects of my experience here have been shaped by, and are a result of Stone Soup, an environment that fosters inclusivity in every sense of the word. There is no way for me to show my appreciation for what Stone Soup has shown me, and the kinds of opportunities that have begun to form as a result of my time here, other than by thanking each and every person that I came across during my stay. I am excited for the future of Stone Soup, and for anyone that has the chance to be a part of the community, even if for just a short while.

The Coworking Community in Athens: Cécile’s experience in a shared office space!

Cécile is a newly arrived translator here at Stone Soup! Her work consists mainly of proof reading and translation, form Greek to French, for French publishing houses.

Cécile grew up in Saint-Etienne, France, and has a background in literature, latin, ancient Greek and modern Greek. After graduating from University, she spent 2 years teaching, but realised that she was interested in pursuing other aspects of her degree. This lead her to proof reading, for which she made the transition, and in parallel began doing some translations from Greek to French as a freelancer.

After coming to Athens, Cécile found that she needed to work away from home, as she preferred having some separation between her home space, and work space. Stone Soup provides an element of symbiosis to Cécile – a convenient balance between working alone, as well as having the opportunity to socialise and interact with other freelancers.

Cécile highlights the importance of having a good office atmosphere, in which someone with a job like hers can be stimulated socially. Furthermore, as she comes from France, connecting easily to the local community, through the location and the people, is an aspect Cécile places a lot of emphasis on.

Cécile is currently working on translating a Greek novel into French, which is the biggest project she has worked on thus far. As Cécile’s work as a freelancer requires being fairly mobile in terms of the kind of work she is doing, having a community of people to work around brings about a certain sense of stability to the instability of her job.