MTB hosts delegation of leading IoT Companies from Greece

When we think about the economy of Greece, we think high unemployment, capital controls and stagnation. We’ve been inundated with bleak images of long lines at ATMs alongside idle pensioners, students protesting and a mass of disgruntled citizens who are frustrated with years of political and economic mismanagement.

We don’t typically associate ‘job-growth’ and ‘innovation’ with an economy that barely averted financial default after a final-hour deal with its European counterparts in August.

But we do believe we have a reason to be optimistic about Greece’s future. Our optimism lies with its entrepreneurs.

12473622_10153761991730552_8442253232545105630_o

In partnership with Enterprise Greece, a Greek government agency supporting small businesses in Greece, as well as with support from Greek accelerators mi-Cluster and Corallia, this week MTB hosted 10 IoT companies from Greece in San Francisco for three days of an immersive program into Silicon Valley culture. Participating startups included:

Prisma Electronics SA

Centaur Technologies

Heliix

Hypertech

Irida Labs

Qualia

Sensoraide

Think Silicon

Wubby

Yodiwo

Former Microsoft President Richard Belluzo speaks to a packed house of 70+ entrepreneurs

Across the three days, our Greek delegates heard from leading Silicon Valley entrepreneurs includingformer Microsoft President Richard Belluzzo, digital marketing expert and Timelapse founder Oliver Roth, Jon Vlachogiannis, Greek entrepreneur and founder of Bugsense, Greek-American entrepreneur Toli Lerios, and Nick Arvanitidis, founder and CEO of Sequus Pharmaceuticals, among others. Greek startup founders and executives learned about corporate development, intellectual property, digital marketing, and pitching, and even had the opportunity to pitch to a crowd of 70+ entrepreneurs and investors after Belluzzo’s inspiring speech.

MTB also facilitated a group visit to Samsung’s corporate Innovation Center, no doubt a pioneer in the IoT field, where they had the opportunity to pitch Samsung’s investment fund Principals. (By the way, for a company with over 500,000 employees, getting face-time with top investors like these guys is a once in a lifetime opportunity.)

1941604_10153762017740552_6621080444601875776_o

The group also visited ground zero for all things innovation at Stanford University. There, they heard about how arguably the world’s most entrepreneurial university leveraged their ties with some of the biggest tech giants we know today, including Google, PayPal, and many more.

We are thrilled to see that entrepreneurship in Greece is still thriving, despite the odds — as the events of the past year have exacerbated unemployment and driven Greek debt even higher.

 A recent report from Endeavor, a Greek non-profit that supports the local entrepreneurial ecosystem, cites that 81% of Greek university students have a positive view of entrepreneurship. 30% intend to start their own business in the immediate future. This is good news for Greece.

 Even in the face of near-economic collapse, Greece was one of 10 countries that made the greatest gains in the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute index, which estimated Greece’s entrepreneurship activities rose 10% in the past year.

Our experience this week with all of the fantastic startups from Greece validates one of MTB’s inspiring principles: Tough economic times are the most fertile. From scarcity, comes clarity.