Startup Weekend Thessaloniki: Innovative Ideas to Disrupt Greek Industries

 
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This weekend marked the fifth annual Startup Weekend hosted in Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece. Founded in 2007, Startup Weekend has since grown to cities across the world and has now engaged 210,000+ entrepreneurs in 135+ countries across the world. Today, Startup Weekend is held across Greece in cities like Thessaloniki and Volos.

I had the opportunity to participate as a coach at Startup Weekend Thessaloniki, for every piece of business plan guidance, pitch deck advice, and marketing tactic provided… I learned even more from the bright entrepreneurial minds of the event. Here’s a quick recap of the event, an overview of the ventures created, and how it all ties to the overall growth in the #Greektech ecosystem this year.

As with any market, the innovation and growth occur in the respectively dominant industries of the country. For Greece, dominant industries are travel and tourism (accounting for 20% of the country’s total GDP and 12.2% of the country’s total employment, numbers that are projected to increase exponentially in the coming years), food and agriculture, public sector, shipping, among a few others.

The ventures that were developed throughout the course of the weekend aligned with these verticals, bringing about ideas like:

  • Robin Food — Aiming to help Greece and the EU cut down on food waste by providing a platform that enables students and low-income households to find and purchase foods that are close to expiration at lower cost;

  • Unknown — An alternative travel platform on a mission to bring more off-the-beaten path travel experiences like ecotourism to the unexplored and lesser known regions of Greece for a more authentic, local, and human human tourist experience;

  • PublicWe — Taking on the big challenge to disrupt the inefficiencies in the public sector, by enabling a real-time feedback system that enables citizens to rank public employees and give public recognition to those who are more effective in their roles;

  • Among other innovative ideas. (Check out Startup Weekend Thessaloniki’s Facebook page for the full event breakdown and winners).

Events like this bring together great minds from across the country and world, and in some cases even work to reverse the brain drain as they bring expats and Greeks from abroad back to share their perspective and get a firsthand look at the inspiration booming amongst this new wave of Greektech innovation. This weekend, like other similar startup events and hackathons, brought coaches from startups and businesses in Greece and abroad, judges from leading VCs in Greece, and most importantly, the aspiring and curious entrepreneurial minds of the local tech ecosystem.

The ventures pitched at the end of the event both reinforced the strong foothold of Greece’s dominant industries and presented new, creative ways to disrupt them.

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