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Monday, 12 March 2012 09:40

Like the Phoenix Rising from the Ashes, Turmoil Breeds Opportunity in Greece

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I share this story with the deep belief that if Greece is to regain its own economic sovereignty, its best chance for doing so is my creating jobs in the private sector through organic growth.  The engine for such growth is Entrepreneurship. This is a significant step for my native land.

Turmoil Breeds Opportunity: Greece Entrepreneur Week

ATHENS, GREECE, February 27, 2012

In the face of economic, social, and political turmoil, Entrepreneur Week initiated its first parlay into Europe with Greece Entrepreneur Week (@EWgreece) to educate more than 650 aspiring and early-stage entrepreneurs. The event was planned purposefully in just 20 days to provide the framework of entrepreneurship as a viable long-term solution for solving the financial crisis.

“Greece has a robust and proud culture. It’s time we wake up to the new reality of doing business and operate from a stance of strength through global collaboration, networking, and interconnection. It’s imperative we embrace a new way of thinking and building relationships. For too long Greece has been an insular economy. CoLab, exemplifies the abundance of entrepreneurial opportunity we have here. The first two spaces we launched sold out in less than three months each and we are now expanding geographically outside of Athens,” stated CoLab Athens co-founder Stavros Messinis.

Greece has the opportunity to reclaim its ancient glory as a hub of global innovation. Archimedes’ creation of the Antikythera mechanism – an ancient mechanical computer from 100BC – shows Greece’s history of innovation in computing. As the originators of democracy, coined money, and central banks, Greece has a chance to capitalize on their rich history to move forward proactively with entrepreneurship, particularly in these troubling times. The debt crisis Greece is experiencing has been positive because it exemplifies that their current economic infrastructure was unsustainable, which opened a door for transparent discussion necessary for change.

Greece Entrepreneur Week launched in partnership with Ministry of Development, Competitiveness and MaritimeMinistry of Education, Life-Long Learning & Religious AffairsCoLab AthensVirtual Trip GroupStartup GreeceNational Bank of GreeceHellenic Startup AssociationYoung Confederation of EntrepreneursAthens Chamber of Commerce & IndustryAmerican Hellenic Chamber of Commerce.

To infuse fresh perspectives and ensure diversity of opinion, Entrepreneur Week curated a 36-member delegation from 10 countries – Australia, Belgium, Hungary, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Spain, Russia, UK, and USA. The delegation held panels, keynotes, roundtables, and a succession of pitch events for entrepreneurs that was highlighted by an intimate meeting on educational reform with Minister of Education, Anna Diamantopoulou as well as Constantine Michalos, President of the Athens Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

The renowned entrepreneurs and thought leaders who were a part of Entrepreneur Week Greece included:

Alex Mitchell, Vice President at YES (European Confederation of Young Entrepreneurs) & President at G20 YEA (UK)

James Allworth, Fellow at Forum for Growth & Innovation of Harvard Business School (USA)

Ksenia Khoruzhnikova, Founder & Chair at G-20Y Summit IOC (Russia)

Alvaro Cuesta, President at Asociacion Jovenes Empresarios de Madrid (Spain)

Omar Al-Madhi, Assistant Deputy Governor at SAGIA, Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (Saudi Arabia)

With an additional $170 billion bailout package announced this past week, the biggest sovereign debt restructuring in history, consensus opinion is quite possible – full default. However, the energy and passion of the local Greek startup community, anchored by Greece Entrepreneur Week curator Dimitris Tsigos, exhibit a surprising pent up yearning for change. Over the course of the past three years, the culture in Greece for startups slowly progressed toward acceptance as the country continues to undergo a mental model shift toward global perspectives for business and the need for economic dynamism.

Top Ministry officials directly supported the five-day event in a focused effort toward developing concrete actions steps for Greece to evolve out of its current deadlock. Five systemic barriers to fostering a healthy startup ecosystem in Greece were identified: overly conservative culture, lack of risk financing, deficient opportunity for alternative education, and a vastly unstable regulatory environment.

Entrepreneur Week CEO, Gary Whitehill, believes, “as Greece moves toward significant change culturally and economically, now is the best time to create a presence because unstable times create incredible opportunities. History is quite telling, the Greeks were the first explorers of the world – entrepreneurship is in their DNA. Our mission is to develop a local brick and mortar presence, drive global partnerships, and educate the Greek startup community on building scalable and actionable outcomes through the tools and resources of our platform.”

This is just the beginning for Entrepreneur Week in Greece and its three core pillars of education, mentoring, and inspiration as critical first steps toward ensuring stability in the region and a cohesive understanding on how to create scalable and sustainable businesses.

The schedule for Greece Entrepreneur Week can be found here alongside commentary from the event on twitter via @EWgreece and its corresponding hashtag #EWgreece


Entrepreneur Week is a global event series bringing seasoned entrepreneurs, accomplished thought leaders, and early-stage investors to local entrepreneurial ecosystems. Through its international network, Entrepreneur Week develops opportunities and creates solutions for entrepreneurs in local communities by providing a global perspective, entrepreneurial best practices, and an action plan for implementation.

Entrepreneur Week continues to bridge connections between stakeholders around the world, building a global portal of access and collaboration for communities to foster entrepreneurship and innovation.


Chris Efessiou

About Chris Efessiou:  Chris Efessiou is an entrepreneur, business leader, educator, mentor, international speaker, radio show host, and best-selling author of CDO Chief Daddy Officer: The Business of Fatherhood  based on his own experience from raising his daughter as a single dad by applying his business knowledge to the business of parenting.  Listen to Chris’s weekly Radio Show Straight Up With Chris:  Real Talk on Business and Parenthood on Voice America Radio.  You may connect with Chris on Facebook, follow on Twitter and visit

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