The Hellenic Business Angels Network (HeBAN) together with the Alexander Innovation Zone of Thessaloniki, OK!Thess, Thessaloniki Business Angels and the Municipality of Thessaloniki organized on July 14th, 2016, a very successful publicly open event with the theme “Business Angels and Startups Opportunities: Incentives for Investors” (in Thessaloniki, Greece).
The event aimed to raise awareness among Greek investors and startups of potential practices and strategies for increasing the success rate of startups. The event comprised keynote presentations and roundtable discussions with the participation of the following distinguished experts:
• Baybars Altuntas (President of TBAA and Vice-President of EBAN)
• Angelos Angelou (Founder of Angelou Economics & International Accelerator, Austin, USA)
• Dimitris Tsingos (Founder of StartTech Ventures and Co-founder of HeBAN)
• Giannis Papadopoulos (Chairman of the Hellenic Venture Capital Association, Co-Founder and CEO of Attica Ventures)
• Theodoros Karaoglou (Member of the Greek Parliament)
• Simon Bensasson (Thessaloniki City Council, Coordinator of OK!Thess)
• Pantelis Angelidis (President of the Alexander Innovation Zone)
The event was coordinated by: Panayiotis Ketikidis – for the provision of key insights into the importance of business angels for the economy; Andreas Baresel-Bofinger – for the overall moderation and by Stavros Mantzanakis – for the moderation of the round-table discussion (all three aforementioned are Co-Founders of HeBAN). The event started with welcome notes presenting some details about HeBAN’s goals and activities as well as the anticipated role of OK!Thess for the startups in Thessaloniki. The following keynote speech was delivered by Baybars Altuntas about the incentives that business angels require for their activities with best case examples from Portugal and Turkey. This was followed by the presentation of Angelos Angelou about the crucial factors to make Greek startups successful. In the subsequent presentation Giannis Papadopoulos talked about the important role of venture capital before Dimitris Tsingos continued with the success exit story of his startup investment AbZorbas. The event concluded with a roundtable discussion on strategies to increase the success rate of startups in Greece.
The key messages of the event are:
• The startup market of Greece will experience high growth in the upcoming years.
• Investment for startup success requires strong strategies and structural changes in the operation of a startup (thus flexibility is required).
• Trust and operation with limited resources are the necessary realities of startup investment.
• Governmental support schemes and directed funding are critical to ensure startup success.
• Additionally, fair taxation, support and encouragement of innovation, social cohesion and attraction of investments should be key priorities for governments and city councils.
• The motivation of youth to try new experiences/ideas is crucial but also potentially dangerous in startup success.
• It is of core importance that HeBAN and related startup associations maintain and provide access to the entire startup ecosystem from Greece and provide links also beyond the national borders.
• Business angels create economic growth and implicitly new jobs, however they need to be trained together with the startups in order to succeed (leading also the concept of “smart entrepreneurship” by employing efficient manners of fund utilization and allocation).
• Another strong point in startup success is the development of a clear exit plan.
• Business mentors are also of core importance for ensuring startup success as they can also increase the chances of startups to get into accelerator programmes.
• Proper training in terms of business management (i.e. accounting, financing, marketing, sales) are necessary for startups as many startups fail due to such knowledge gaps.
Download the key speakers’ presentations