Tech entrepreneurs in Greece’s burgeoning startup scene push back against a bleak narrative.
On a rainy Friday afternoon in March, 25 startup teams pitched live to a high-profile panel of judges, mentors, entrepreneurs, and investors. The event filled the building with conversation and excitement as the early-stage entrepreneurs presented their new technologies, connecting with other members of Greece’s growing technology community.
It is hard to imagine this sort of event happened in the very same Greece covered by international news outlets. But these teams, semifinalists in the MIT Enterprise Forum Greece’s first-ever startup competition, are eager to provide a more positive picture of Greece’s future.
Six years of recession, the deepest in memory, have resulted in fear, insecurity, and anxiety. According to Endeavor Greece, an affiliate of the global entrepreneurship organization, entire sectors of business have vanished, taking with them one million jobs. Thousands of Greeks, most of them younger than 35 years old and typically highly educated and skilled, have left the country for lack of work.
The silver lining: “The crisis forced young Greeks to change their mentality and look for a new model,” says Mareva Grabowski, a former investment banker and founder of Endeavor Greece, which launched in late 2012. The new mentality is geared toward creating an export-oriented, globally focused economy driven by technology.