Lori Ioannou, 10 Dec 2015 | 10:06 AM ET
ATHENS — In a modern high-tech office, two software engineers are busy directing an army of young engineers as they work on upgrades for their three-year-old cloud-based recruiting software company, Workable.com, which already has 3,500 customers in 50 countries and has attracted more than $34 million in venture capital.
It would be just another Silicon Valley success story if it weren’t for the company’s home base: Greece, a country that is the basket case in the euro zone because of economic mismanagement, public sector corruption and a youth unemployment rate that’s a staggering 60 percent. The situation is so dire, suicide rates are on the rise, and there is an exodus of talent looking for opportunities abroad.
Despite the bleak outlook, there is a growing cadre of Greek entrepreneurs determined to defy the odds and build high-tech businesses that can thrive, providing a glimmer of hope for the economy. These trailblazers are patriots. As the most highly educated generation in the nation’s history, they are determined to grow their ideas on home soil even as Greece grapples with budget austerity, and regulatory changes that are undermining the middle class and threatening national sovereignty.
“The crisis has pushed people into survival mode, and they are looking for opportunities,” according to Stavros Messinis, CEO and founder of The Cube, a start-up incubator in Athens. “At this point, there isn’t much for them to lose.”