As an American who chose to move from New York City to Athens, the unavoidable question that arises in almost every conversation is: “Why?” For me, the answer is simple. And the sun and sea are only small parts of the equation.
Understanding Greek Tech
When I first moved to Greece two years ago, I came with the knowledge that marketing is a transferable skill, particularly when it came to marketing for B2B technology companies. Software startups are being built all over the world and they strive for global expansion, to sell into large English-speaking markets like the US and the UK. Greece was no exception. After working in and getting to know the Greek tech ecosystem over the past year, I’ve become more familiar with not only the trending startups and industries that lead the market, but also the obstacles that Greek entrepreneurs must overcome to scale their businesses; obstacles like limited resources, intricate bureaucracy, and brain drain. This past decade has been far from easy period for Greece, resulting in the limitation of many resources that we take for granted in the States.
But something I noticed and felt early on in the tech space was tangible hope and enthusiasm. When you speak to the bright and talented minds who chose to stay in Greece and work in tech (instead of moving abroad), you learn that the Greek tech space is slowly paving for a new age of creation and growth for the country. And in general, as the economy starts to rebuild itself, you can see all the creative energy that is so deeply rooted in Greek culture being channeled towards recovery and growth. Coupled with the recent injection of over €200MM in funding from the European Investment Fund to local VCs, these next few years mark the beginning of a tech renaissance filled with new ideas and growing ventures.
Different Markets, Different Perspectives
I spent the first half of my life being brought up across two cultures (Chinese and American), and it was here that I discovered the innovative space that is created when you bring together different ways of life and schools of thought. In America, we are well trained in the art of achieving goals and making money. It’s these pillars that drive the American Dream, the same dream that inspired immigrants like my parents to leave their home country and come to the States decades ago. Embedded in the American way of life, dating back the days of western expansion, is this drive to move forward at full speed to conquer goals and work to achieve more. In the American startup sector, we have cutting-edge technology and an abundance of funding, talent, and resources. In practice, this has made America a leader when it comes to professional practices, paving the way for bigger markets and more curious minds with our business frameworks and sheer force of will.
Now at this stage of my life, I find myself living across another range of cultures, as a Chinese-American in Greece. In Greece, the pace of life and work vibrates at the rhythm of the Mediterranean and its surrounding regions. Business has a much heavier focus on relationships, and relationships in general are more human and less transactional. Greece has millennia of history that far surpasses that of other cultures, and has long been the home of the greatest minds and storytellers of humankind. And it is no coincidence that some of the world’s earliest and most influential thought leaders come from here.
Building The Port
Athens is on the road to becoming a global tech hub, but to get there, we must look beyond our borders to learn essential skills and competitive advantages that other leaders and markets have already established. My time in Greece has shown me that there is opportunity to be captured from combining the natural Greek talents of creativity and storytelling, with American professionalism and best practices. Here is where The Port comes in, to bridge best practices from the land of opportunity and the land of ideas … and use them to help create, build, and support burgeoning businesses.