Discover more from Startup Pirate by Alex Alexakis
From Launch to Exit
Tech Communities in Greece, the journey from MyJobNow to Skroutz Last Mile, pricing and packaging strategies, 960 jobs, digital nomads visa, events, and more
👋 Happy Friday! Welcome to Hunting Greek Unicorns #36. 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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Tech Communities in Greece
Last week, I spent some time exploring the landscape of tech communities in Greece. I wanted to understand how many of them are active (especially during the pandemic), which are the hot areas or themes, how many are meetups vs. online groups (FB, Discord, Slack), and identify opportunities to build new communities. After some online research, I posted the first version of the list on Twitter and LinkedIn. Really thankful to all the amazing online friends that gave their valuable input and feedback. So now there’s a list with 66 communities that you can check out, join, and connect with like-minded people! Let me know if you see anything missing.
From launch to exit: the journey from MyJobNow to Skroutz Last Mile
This week I’m excited to have Stefanos Katsimpas, Business Director at Skroutz Last Mile, the last mile delivery service of Skroutz, and previously co-founder and CEO at MyJobNow, a startup created in 2018 with the aim to democratize access in the job market for casual workers. Stefanos is sharing today his really interesting journey and lessons learned from founding MyJobNow, spinning off MyJobNow Delivery, the company’s on-demand delivery staffing service, pivoting amidst a pandemic, and later on exiting both services to Skroutz and XE.gr.
Let’s get to it!
What led you to take the leap and found your own startup? How did you come up with the idea about MyJobNow?
Back in 2018, Agamemnon Papazoglou and I used to work as startup investors having several years of experience in the VC industry. After evaluating thousands of startups, we thought it was time for us to start our own business. It was clear we had chemistry and like-minded business understanding. Moreover, we were turning 30 and felt that it was the right time to adopt the entrepreneurial lifestyle.
Our background helped us to choose the right(?) business model, as we were on top of the market trends. We noticed that European tech companies in the casual jobs industry were raising millions in VC funding and scaling fast.
Our first step was to prepare a deck that gave us a much deeper understanding of what we wanted to build and create an MVP to generate traction. For that, we partnered with 2 friends of ours who are talented devs, Christos and Giannis, and later became tech leads and co-founders at MJN. After working a couple of months on the project - in parallel with our daily jobs - we realised we needed help on the product leadership side; a tech co-founder with solid experience. Luckily, the timing was right as Alex Papaspiridis (with whom I had worked in the past) was considering new ventures, after selling his previous VC-backed startup (reEmbed) to a US company. We went out to discuss the MJN project. The culture fit was obvious. The next day, Alex was part of our team.
We built a mobile-first service to connect companies with casual workers, offering transparency in job discovery to job seekers and providing basic ATS functionalities to employers. MJN had an amazing growth trend pre-COVID, with ~4.5x Year-on-Year in revenues. In Q1 2020, the company had ~32 employees (3 of them were in Milan).
A year in you were making great progress. Raised close to €1m in funding, helping thousands of people find jobs and expanded to Italy. Why did you decide to launch the on-demand delivery staffing service, MyJobNow Delivery, back in November 2019?
Although we started with an app to connect candidates with companies, our vision and end game for MJN was staffing on demand for casual jobs. Doing that in Greece is not easy; there are many compliance issues for issuing a staffing license, the process takes time, and overall our decision to venture into this market had certain risks.
We were eager to test the ground and decided to hack our way in with delivery outsourcing. In fact, the idea was to provide delivery drivers to companies, with equipment, scooter, and gas expenses covered in the hourly rate we were charging. The market was there, as the demand for drivers was much higher compared to the supply. We offered transparency and fairness to candidates and transparent hourly pricing to our customers. We priced our service ~20% on top of our fully-loaded costs, including the admin work to handle HR ops and recruitment fees. By doing that, we tailored our service only to enterprise customers, as other market segments thought(?) that their fully loaded cost for a delivery driver was ~50% lower than ours.
Then, COVID-19 hit. What was the impact on MyJobNow and MyJobNow Delivery?
In Q1 2020, we started the year with ~20 delivery drivers for the delivery outsourcing part of the business (MJN Delivery launched in Nov 2019), growing MyJobNow in Greece and achieving 2x Month-over-Month in MyJobNow Italy.
And then COVID-19 came. When the pandemic hit Europe, the first area was Lombardy (Milan), where our Italian business was growing (ops & customers). In March, the Lombardy area had a lockdown and all of our customers closed operations. So did we eventually. The brand there wasn’t as strong as in Greece.
A month later, lockdowns started in Greece too and MJN’s revenues fell ~90%. The main job categories still holding up were delivery, warehouse, and call center. By seeing the usage patterns during the first weeks, we felt that MJN Delivery could grow further. We started discussing with supermarket chains and other companies to explore partnership opportunities. In May 2020, we scaled our fleet to >100 drivers. Within a month, we hired more than 100 people (keep in mind that the delivery business has high turnover rates) and managed all the HR ops (e.g. contracts, driver payroll, and driver assistance) and capex requirements (e.g. physical assets such as vehicles).
MJN Delivery was growing. There was new business coming in every week, but several of our existing customers were dropping demand even by 50%-60%, as they were reducing delivery work-hours (not every business can handle a fleet and create a profitable last-mile model). Finally, when the lockdown ended, we decided that the delivery outsourcing business model was risky and not easy to scale.
Amidst a surge in e-commerce, you pivoted to a same-day courier service, SendX. There were enough courier services around already. What made you decide to form another one and what gave you the confidence it would be possible to succeed?
By June 2020, we had the experience of scaling a fleet, but we also knew that this wasn’t enough to create a steady cash flow for our business. We had to help our customers with operations too. Therefore, outside of HR operations and capex, we decided to introduce support for fleet management, tracking, and dispatch and get deeper into the operations side of delivery. SendX was born! Doing that with our customer base at that time (e.g. supermarkets, grocery stores, etc) wasn't easy for various reasons. Our value proposition was clear: “we’ll help you build a fleet and deliver goods to consumers”. A segment that was mature enough and had the experience to understand our offering was e-commerce. We started biz dev and booked meetings with major players in the market. In the end, we partnered with a couple of major e-commerce brands, providing a fully-fledged courier service through a network of ~130 drivers. We helped them transform their stores into hubs for last-mile delivery.
And then SendX gets acquired by Skroutz. Tell us a bit more about how your service aligned with Skroutz's vision in what ended up becoming Skroutz Last Mile?
We discussed the SendX courier option with Skroutz and started a pilot back in August 2020. This was our first interaction as partners. After working together with the team for a couple of months and scaling SendX together, both teams realised that there was some great fit. Indeed, they were the partners we wanted to work with and our service was reliable to help their marketplace deliver goods in Athens in a seamless way. Skroutz’s vision is to provide consumers with the best customer experience. Obviously, the delivery experience is an important factor.
After the pilot, we decided to work together towards creating the best possible delivery experience, and hence the acquisition happened in January 2021. It’s worth mentioning that during that time we also had the platform of MJN running in parallel, as it continued to help people find jobs. However, our thoughts and focus weren’t at it anymore, so even though it still is a great product and we’re proud of it, XE.gr bought MJN in Q1 2021.
Now, going back to SendX that turned into Skroutz Last Mile after the acquisition, we have definitely made some great progress during these months. To give you some perspective, the first day we launched SendX we were handling ~50 orders/day, whereas now - a year later - we handle ~7k orders/day. Our vision with Skroutz Last Mile is to create a reliable consumer-friendly courier service that could grow in parallel with the company’s marketplace offering an option for next-day delivery.
🦄 Startup Jobs
Looking for your next opportunity? Check out hundreds of job postings from Greek startups in Greece, abroad, and remotely. Company information is also available.
Traveltech startup, RoomPriceGenie, announced a funding round of €1.8m to bring its automated, dynamic pricing technology to hospitality businesses globally.
Breef, an online marketplace for ad agencies, raised $3.5m led by Greycroft, with total funding of $4.5m since its inception in 2019.
Uizard, an AI-powered digital design assistant for non-designers, announced that it has raised $15m in Series A funding led by Insight Partners.
More information on the digital nomads visa that is about to get introduced in Greece for foreign citizens.
Applications are open for Women TechEU, an EU scheme supporting deep tech startups led by women, offering financial support of €75,000 and mentoring.
VentureGarden, the accelerator program of Alba Graduate Business School, is accepting applications until the 13th of September.
🤓 Interesting Reads
Stavros Papadopoulos, founder & CEO of TileDB, discussing the problem of purpose-built data systems, the definition of the Universal database, and the vision for TileDB, here.
Mike Giannakopoulos, Senior Product Manager at Transifex, published a post on Mind the Product discussing cross-departmental communication as a product.
Marily Nika, AR/VR Experience Product Lead at Google, on how the role of Product Managers has evolved over the years, core skills required, and more, here.
A brief review of growing Greek agriculture tech startups such as Augmenta, Centaur Analytics, Oliveex, AgroApps, ΚΥΤΙΟΝ and Terra Robotics in Kathimerini.
George Hadjigeorgiou, co-founder and President at ZOE, on launching Covid Symptom Tracker, and a detailed description of the services offered by ZOE to help people improve their metabolic health, here.
Research by the Yodeck team on the effectiveness of safety signs, when it comes to compliance with COVID-19 measures.
Babis Makrynikolas, VP Product & Pricing at Blueground, discussing pricing and packaging strategies from Amazon and Blueground, with Andrew Michael on CHURN FM, here.
Klitos Christodoulou, Assistant Professor of the University of Nicosia, on the history of blockchain and its potential to improve different facets of society, here.
A podcast with Apostolis Apostolidis, Principal Software Engineer at Cinch, on moving from containers to serverless, introducing Team Topologies, engineering team structures, and more.
Interesting events coming up from the Greek tech community:
“Path to Self-Sovereignty with Youtuber BTC Sessions” by Bitcoin & Blockchain Tech Meetup (Athens) on September 6
“Greek Cryptocurrency Community Social Meet-up in ATHens” by Greek Cryptocurrency Community on September 18
“Women+ Symposium” by Greek Women in STEM, Greek Girls Code, R.E.A.L. Science, Lean in Greece: Women in Tech on October 1-3
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Thanks for reading and see you in two weeks,
Greek Startup Pirate 👋