Photo: Business Insider
ATHENS, GREECE — It’s a big cliche at this point, but it’s always said that the greatest companies are forged during periods of the greatest economic hardship.If that’s the case, I probably met some of Europe’s top business leaders last night when I spent part of an evening getting to know the Greek internet startup scene.
Greek startups have everything stacked against them. The economy is horrible. The regulatory climate is a well-known disaster. Taxes are levied even against companies that are unprofitable. There are virtually no VCs actively looking to invest in Greece. There’s no track record of big exits.
But the entrepreneurs I met last night think it’s a great time to get going.
Larger incumbent companies are weak, and are desperate to make deals with anyone that might provide them a new avenue of business. Consumers are looking around for the best deals around. And rent and labour have gotten really cheap. Plus, the startups are part of a global movement, that’s well aware of what’s happening in New York and of course in Silicon Valley.
There’s another reason to be bullish on Greek startups, and that’s because the disdain for the establishment is overwhelming. People hate the government, and see the media as being complicit in the corruption. The thirst for new ideas and the energy of young people is palpable.