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!

 

Starting-up your business in Greece, could a coworking space benefit you?

Lucy is a US citizen who decided to move away and live in Greece. She is a marketer and start-up advisor, and she recently launched the website for her new company The Port. For the last couple of months she has been working from Stone Soup, so we thought to ask her about her experience and how is life for her in Greece.

In the summer of 2016, Lucy traveled to Greece on holiday and fell in love with the country. By the end of the year, she had become educated on the local tech community in Athens, and made the move to bring her skills to a new market. Since arriving in Greece over a year and a half ago, Lucy has been getting to know the local tech scene and culture, working with startups and small businesses both in Greece and the States. She is using her experience to better understand the needs of startups here, and identify the best practices from Silicon Alley (New York City) that could be adapted to help Greek startups grow.

This year, Lucy officially launched The Port, a startup resources hub and consultancy that is “helping startups navigate unchartered waters.” Specifically, in the Greek Market, The Port is helping local startups adapt and leverage the strategies that have helped the rapid growth of American tech companies.

Lucy joined Stone Soup in search of a shared space to surround herself with creative energy and inspiring hustle, and for all the other coworking space benefits that come with it. The welcoming community and open space office layout provides her with a “tight-knit community” enabling her to interact and collaborate with “creative and bright minds.”  The location was also a big plus and attracted Lucy to the space. Working in the heart of Athens, she is in walking distance from all other central neighborhoods—like Greek food hub, Syntagma Square and the famous Monastiraki Square and Flea Market.

To answer our initial question, Lucy felt that setting up shop in a local coworking space has greatly helped in both her transition into the Greek lifestyle and the successful launch of her business.

We would like to thank Lucy for her kind words, and to wish her lots of success!

More about Lucy:

Lucy grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan and spent her university years in Philadelphia where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in business from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. After graduating, she went on to join IBM Global Business Services in New York City. After spending some time in corporate America, Lucy decided to make the shift to working with technology startups: early-stage e-commerce game Drop’ Til You Shop  and visual commerce platform Curalate. To learn more about The Port and the services it offers for Greek startups, go to the official website www.totheport.com

Meet Floris van Alkemade, VC

If you missed Floris van Alkemade’s talk at the Orange Grove on Thursday, you have one more chance to gain insights in the business model of a venture capitalist.