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!

 

Social Economy for Social Empowerment

Social Solidarity Economy (SSE) is a relatively new concept of the social economy with an impact on the way of production. In comparison to existing market practices, the SSE paradigm is about starting and growing a business in which all economic activities of production, distribution and consumption are organized horizontally and managed democratically. SSE has the ability to take the best practices that exist in our present system (such as efficiency, use of technology and knowledge) and transform them to serve the welfare of the community based on different values and goals.

Following this idea, many initiatives are starting to adopt the concept in their way of working, and becoming part of this growing community, and, to help on the implementation of it, some platforms were created to help us achieve SSE, one of them is our resident Dock.

The idea behind Dock

The Dock initiative was formed in 2017, inspired by the idea of creating business that have principles of democratic governance and sustainable methods of production. Dock is a platform that was founded to help such initiatives. They focus on supporting the people, enhancing the SSE concepts and on strengthening the initiatives and the overall social economy ecosystem.

 

How it works

Dock is currently connecting and consulting SSE initiatives providing 3 different operations which are: 1. the infopoint, 2. the helpdesk and 3. the forum.

Infopoint, is a free of charge consulting area for getting information and answering questions in SSE matters, while Helpdesk, involves supporting SSE actors at any stage of development, from the initial idea and team formation to initiatives and entities that are already economically developed. Finally, Forum works as a cooperative network linking those actors by sharing a common ground.

They have presence in the European SSE community and collaborate with other initiatives to increase the visibility of the SSE movement. To that end, they also organize events and participate in delegations and interventions like in the organizational team of UniverSSE 2017. They currently participate in the Αttica’s SSE entities Union. At European level, they are members of the pan-European Ripess EU network.

SSE in Greece

In Greece, SSE initiatives are in an early stage, however, the successful launch of such paradigms is becoming a political priority, acknowledging that SSE has the power to mobilize economic and social forces in a cooperative way in order to relaunch the productive model of the country in a more fair and democratic way.

Dock has successfully initiated the “Fruit of Solidarity” campaigns. They provide a networking and collaboration platform between Greek agricultural producers and international stakeholders. “Greenland” action for instance, is a Social Cooperative Enterprise, helping olive oil producers in Kalamata to embrace fair trade practices and expand to international markets. The organisation succeeded in exporting all of their products (more than 20 tones of olive oil and almost 10 tones of olives) in Sweden, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands and Japan in 2017. The importance of this was major if you consider that the producers sold their goods without an intermediate and bargained their own prices, ending up enjoying 60% of the profits which is 20% higher than the one they would have if they were participating in traditional business.

The field has potentials to evolve through the years of 2020 and 2021, giving a new perspective of business and production that values human capital before economic capital and builds a sustainable and socially fair environment.

If your are interest in knowing more about SSE and other business trends, keep it up with Stone Soup Facebook page.

Max approaches life as a journey and Athens is a beautiful traveling destination. Read more about his recent life.

Max B. is from Germany, he studied industrial design and worked with his father as a Sound designer for the film industry in Berlin. Living his whole life in Berlin he felt the urge to travel and live somewhere else.

He has been traveling with a small Volkswagen van in Europe so he has experienced the nomad life. A year ago he decided to build a home in a more spacious van and travel further away. Initially he thought of traveling to Asia or India but when Max arrived at his first stop in Athens, he found it hard to continue his journey. Although the intention was to visit for only a few months, thanks to the people, nature, food and music he decided to extend his stay.

“Greece is the type of country in Europe where it feels good being here; let’s say that people are more ‘Mediterranean’. The approach is more open and things are more easy going around here.”

It’s the first time for Max working from a coworking space. “Is nice to talk to all this different kind of people. I work with a computer and I am focus on the screen all the time, so is good to have someone that you can have a dialog from time to time and cook together.”

Greece as the first stop of his inner journey

Max’s bachelor thesis was about Modern Nomads. He says that the concept of the term fits his lifestyle though he prefers not to call himself a nomad as his journey is more spiritual. “The work I’m doing is a mean to make my living. My actual focus is on observing my inner processes. Giving room to allow and understand fears, asking myself, what’s love, why we pursue pleasure and thus get a deeper understanding of the Me and the general suffering of mankind.

“In the last year it became very obvious, that I cannot continue working, more or less just for the sake of earning money and not seeing anyhow my contribution to improve the general wellbeing of people and the world in that we live in. Greece seems like a good starting point to walk on new paths.”

Now, Max is finishing his work for a German criminal investigator TV series and starting to work on an independent Greek film about a group of friends in a squat in Thessaloniki and the refugee crisis, a documentary with some storytelling.

 

Summer Internship at Stone Soup in Athens, Greece

As I was finishing my 2nd year of University in Vancouver, Canada, I started to apply to the summer internships that I was most excited about. Some of these were organised by AIESEC, the largest youth-run organisation in the world.

I was very motivated to experience interning abroad as that would not only give me the opportunity to work in a professional environment, but I would also get to explore another country. When I went through the opportunity portal on AIESEC’s website, the position of a marketing assistant at Stone Soup caught my eye. At first, the name ‘Stone Soup’ intrigued me and I was curious to learn more about it and when I did look into it, I immediately knew that this was where I wanted to intern in the summer.

When I got the news that I was selected for the position I was ecstatic but soon, I was also quite nervous. I did not know how different the work environment was going to be, I was nervous about the place I would be living at, whether or not I would be able to connect with other interns, the kind of clothes I was required to bring as part of the dress code, or the kind of food that I would eat for 2 months. These were just few of the concerns that were spiralling in my mind before even leaving for Greece.

However, now that I have spent 2 months working at Stone Soup, I feel more accomplished than I would feel at the end of an internship in Canada. That is because, not only have I gained some basic understanding in marketing and some marketing tools such as SEO, but I’ve also had the chance to get to know a lot of residents of Stone Soup. It has been great listening to their stories and learning from them.

I’d like to express my gratitude towards every single person that I’ve come across and interacted with at the Stone Soup space. Thank you for resolving all of my worries and for giving me the opportunity to have the best first internship!