Discover more from Startup Pirate by Alex Alexakis
Bringing The Next Computing Platform
Greek AR/VR startups, product leadership, 4 funding rounds, 572 jobs, news and more
Happy Friday! Welcome to Hunting Greek Unicorns #23. I’m Alex, a product guy turned VC, and every two weeks I send out a newsletter with everything you need to know about the Greek startup industry.
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🤓 Startups in augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) bringing the next computing platform
The space of AR and VR is undoubtedly an exciting one. We’re still pretty early, but no longer too early. There are many interesting projects out there on both software and hardware fronts, even though mainstream adoption has not ramped up yet, apart from a handful exceptions. On that note, several Greek teams have ventured into the industry, including enterprise apps targeting niche audiences. The year kicked off with an acquisition, that of Ariel AI from Snap, the company behind Snapchat and that piqued my curiosity to deep dive more into the space. The category contains from hardware and enablement products to collaboration and training tools or even medical apps and many more interesting projects.
Below, you can find a list of 12 AR and VR startups with Greek founders.
Disclaimer: The list is by no means exhaustive. Funding information was gathered from public online sources and for companies that haven’t publicly disclosed their funding amount or are bootstrapped the equivalent field is blank.
🎙️ Product leadership: how to launch great products and build successful teams with Jason Keramidas
Last week, I had a really insightful conversation with Jason Keramidas, a seasoned product leader with experience leading teams at Shutterstock, Audible (acq by Amazon) and several US startups. The level of clarity and insights on building successful teams and launching great products from Jason was truly top class, so here are some of the key points we discussed.
What should be the main areas of focus when starting out a product function?
Product leaders trying to build a product function, first of all need to understand the business, the problems they address, and have a clear vision of how they want to build out the solutions to those problems. In some cases, they might require a separate product team for each problem/customer experience e.g. customer-facing, internal tool, backend infrastructure, etc. It’s important to figure out what are the different outcomes every team should focus on. This will help a lot with the hiring strategy, so as to identify talent that is familiar with these types of outcomes and have solved similar problems in the past.
When is the right time to make the first product hire?
This depends on the founders and whether they have strong product & engineering skills. If they are not experienced in these areas, then hiring a PM should become a priority as soon as they start hiring engineers. The team needs to have product skills right from the beginning. In regards to the experience level of the first product hire, it makes sense to recruit someone experienced enough to introduce at least some basic level of processes in the product development pipeline. That would be a solid individual contributor with a handful of years of experience, who can join the team, understand the problems and start working with the engineers. If one of the founders has strong product experience, then maybe they can hire someone more junior, but I’d recommend against getting a very junior person onboard in the beginning and hope they grow into the role. You are setting them and the company up for failure, as this person will fail multiple times trying to figure things out.
What are some really important pillars of a strong product culture?
The first thing I try to avoid is to fall into the build trap i.e. our job is just to build stuff. It’s ultimately all about driving results for the business and this should be cultivated at a leadership level. What are the outcomes we want to drive? Every product team should know that and be responsible to drive them. My job as a product leader is to keep them hyper-focused owning a particular goal for the business. The product team has to be empowered to make the decisions on how to get there and I ask the right questions to make sure the team is doing the appropriate level of thinking, prioritising and monitoring progress. It’s crucial for people to understand they are not successful just by shipping features! A lot of what teams ship might be worthless, so how do they determine whether they are successful or not? This can be done only by embracing a metrics and results mindset. Of course, in the early days of a startup a lot comes down to making sure the product has what is necessary e.g. we need to build this functionality, in order to cover our basic use cases. But once we get outside of the early-stage startup world, it’s important to make sure people do the maths right: if I do X, it’s going to result in Y, and that will get us closer to Z.
What is the right relationship between product and marketing?
A good partnership between product and marketing depends on bringing in marketing at the right time in the development process. Before the marketing team jumps in, a product manager needs to have a clear sense of the value proposition, what they are building and how this delivers value to customers. Then, marketing comes in halfway through and work together. It has to be a very symbiotic relationship. The metaphor I use is that of a relay race. A person is running to hand off the baton, but the other person is not standing still, they are already kind of jogging. It has to be a seamless relationship between the two functions.
What are the different product leadership skills required in startups vs. big tech?
A very different set of skills is required in earlier stage startups compared to later stages. Thus, when a company hires a product leader, they need to make a conscious decision taking into account the previous experiences of that person. At an earlier stage startup, product leadership is more about putting the right foundations in place, building up the product culture and organization, while teams ship features all the time. On other hand, later stage companies have completely different considerations such as scaling, optimizing existing processes, identifying new markets and opportunities, etc. It’s less of a greenfield than in the early days. Hence, depending on where a company is in the spectrum, they got to make sure they do not hire someone, who has experience only at companies of different stage and scale and that is the only world they have ever known.
If you want to learn more about product leadership and how to build successful product teams, you can reach out to Jason on LinkedIn.
🦄 Startup Jobs
Greek startups are hiring! Here are some of the latest job opportunities:
Augmenta - Financial Controller (Athens) - Apply here
Bespot - Front-end Developer (Athens) - Apply here
Blueground - Senior Tax Manager (Athens) - Apply here
Centaur - Chief of Staff (Remote) - Apply here
eFood - Head of BI (Athens) - Apply here
Elorus - Junior Full Stack Developer (Athens) - Apply here
MarineTraffic - Data Scientist (Athens) - Apply here
Spitogatos - Digital Marketing & Communications Manager (Athens) - Apply here
Transifex - Sales Account Executive (Remote) - Apply here
Triparound - Senior Front End Developer (Athens) - Apply here
More and more funding rounds for startups with Greek founders 💰
Radicle, a decentralized platform for code collaboration (think peer-to-peer alternative to GitHub) founded by Eleftherios Diakomichalis, raised a $12M round led by NFX and Galaxy Digital with participation from Naval Ravikant, Balaji Srinivasan and others.
Bespot, a location intelligence startup for retail and hospitality, raised a €1M funding round led by UniFund. The company, founded in 2018, had previously raised a pre-seed round led by the same VC firm.
Stockholm based last-mile logistics startup Instabox founded by Alexis Priftis, raised €75M in a Series B round led by EQT Ventures.
RAW Labs, a next generation data management platform, founded by Anastasia Ailamaki and headquartered in Switzerland, raised $5.5M.
Cameo, a marketplace connecting celebrities with their audience, founded by Greek-American Steven Galanis, is in discussions to raise funds at a valuation of about $1B.
The fintech startup Plum, and Numan, a team in the men’s healthcare space, were included in a list of UK tech startups and scaleups to watch in 2021 by Sifted.
Groceries delivery space in Greece is heating up 🔥 InstaShop launched in Thessaloniki. Wolt, which recently raised $530M to expand beyond restaurant delivery, launched in Larissa. A new mini market delivery service by eFood. Smaller startups such as Ferto and Stoferno are making a move. Furthermore, BOX (which absorbed Skroutz Food services) also recently ventured into supermarkets.
Cloudfin, a Cypriot startup that automates invoice data capture, was acquired by the Greek public company, Inform.
💭 Reading or listening
Greece recently updated their tax legislation to cover taxation for equity awards (employee options and RSUs). Here’s a practical guide for Greek tax residents with many insights by Thaleia Misailidou, Principal at Marathon Venture Capital.
Greek VCs discussed with Mike Butcher and shared a snapshot of the local startup ecosystem. Common themes: remote work, brain regain, attracting outside investors.
A post on the hype of Agile and how to not blindly follow the Agile framework by Harris Christopoulos, Agile Coach at REBORRN.
Treat any Agile framework, tool, practice, theory as a recipe. Try them, tweak them, experiment with them, but at the end of the day, you should feel capable of creating your own cookbook that suits your tastes!
Kosta Eleftheriou, founder of FlickType, wrote some interesting Twitter threads the past weeks exposing the problem Apple Store has with the increasing number of scam apps. TechCrunch wrote a story about it.
Brief commentary by John Short, Founder of Compound Growth Marketing (prev. VP Demand Generation at Workable), on Hubspot’s acquisition of The Hustle and why B2B companies should think like media companies to drive growth and engagement.
A podcast with Georgios Gatos, Chief Revenue Officer at Toggl Track, discussing about kickstarting a venture, validating an idea, bootstrapped vs. VC backed, lessons learned from his previous experience as founder at Incrediblue, and much more.
Some headlines I like to see! Greece highlighted as an emerging destination for careers in tech from Erik Polus, the Finnish VP Growth of Beat on Finland Abroad, a website from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.
Stay safe and sane,
Greek Startup Pirate 👋