NEWS: Entrepreneur Helps Accelerate Greek Startups

Peter Polydor

A few Greek startups will get a boost in the U.S. thanks to the effort of an entrepreneur with Greek roots who owns the Eureka co-working building in Irvine.

Peter Polydor created a non-profit in partnership with The Hellenic Initiative, which focuses on entrepreneurship in Greece. The non-profit, Accelerate Greece, will select three Greek companies and fly them to OC for the week leading up to EurekaFEST (see calendar item here)  on April 28.

Once here, they will participate in various workshops and networking events.

The purpose of Accelerate Greece is to foster innovation in that country by supporting entrepreneurs. The three companies chosen in the first round will participate in an acceleration program during EurekaFEST at the Eureka building in Irvine. The program will be free to those companies, with their airfare and hotel accommodations covered, thanks to the support of the Hellenic Initiative, launched in 2012, to support the Greek startup ecosystem (in addition to crisis relief and economic development).

“It’s a program I’ve wanted to do for some time,” Polydor said.

But then he got busy with an accelerated MBA program at Oxford University in England and other projects. He’s also the CEO of Ergo Capital, in Irvine, a venture investor in growth-stage tech companies. It invests through its accelerator, Ergo Accel.

“When I look at the Greek economy, I think there’s huge opportunities,” he added. “When Greece went into their economic woes, the population was the most highly educated per capital in the developed world, with so much engineering talent. The cost of living went down so you can operate a company with lower overhead, because usually the most expensive thing for tech companies is the people. So, it’s a huge opportunity to get incredible talent and not pay American or British prices for it, but still be part of the EU”

As further evidence, Polydor noted that Tesla recently announced it’s opening an R&D center in Athens, (see news report here).

Michael Printzos, director of programming, The Hellenic Initiative

For its part, The Hellenic Initiative is thrilled with the collaboration, said Director of Programming Michael Printzos.

“Whether in or outside Greece, the initiative has has been helping as a catalyst for change to grow the ecosystem and launch more startups. First, with entrepreneurship education programs, direct grants to companies, and an annual venture fair in Athens, we now proudly add Accelerate Greece to our arsenal of game-changing strategies.”

Accelerate Greece opened up the application process in February and was inundated, Polydor said. The three selected companies will get an opportunity to pitch to investors affiliated with OCTANe’s accelerator, LaunchPad, and pitch to investors at EurekaFEST. They will also get to work with mentors and do demos at the OC Tech Happy Hour on April 25.

Companies selected will already have their products up-and- running and will be seeking traction in North America to grow. They will likely have 90% of their staff in Greece, with sales and development teams abroad.

Accelerate Greece’s board includes fellow entrepreneurs with Greek roots: Stergios Anastasiadis, director of engineering at Shopify; Jim Brisimitzis, general manager of Microsoft for Startups; and Steve Vranakis, executive creative director at Google.

 

About The Author

Deirdre Newman is a long-time journalist, who's covered OC startups for a few years.

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