Discover more from Startup Pirate by Alex Alexakis
Doing cool things and pushing frontiers, Causaly's Series B, DeepSea acquired, startup resources, jobs, and more
Startup Pirate is back for edition #81 to connect the dots and suggest there’s a lot to be optimistic about Greeks in tech doing cool shit and pushing frontiers. Below, you can also find a roundup of funding rounds, jobs, and products. This is a newsletter about tech and startups — with a Greek twist — and here’s what we recently talked about:
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Scientists at the top of their fields
Greece ranks #3 in the European countries where the top AI scientists received their undergraduate degrees. Sample data comes from one of the most prestigious conferences worldwide, NeurIPS, in 2019. Remarkable — and, well, more of a trend than an exception.
Last year, there were Greek scientists in 16 of the top 199 publications at the same conference. That's over 8%. The numbers are on par with other AI conferences, like ICML, with 7% in 2022. Bear in mind, these are two of the top 3 AI conferences according to h5-index.
AI is not the only field where Greek scientists excel at. If we zoom out, Greek Computer Science and Engineering scientists make up 3% of the top CS&E scientists (h-index >40) worldwide, while the population of Greece and Cyprus is less than 0.2% of the world population.
STEM education in the country offers a robust foundation for hard technologies, which brings me to the next point.
High density of engineering talent
Athens is on the list of European cities with the highest per-capita density of engineers for many specialisations, according to a recent report by Sequoia. #3 in AI, #4 in front-end, #4 in security, etc. This is incredible for a city of 3.8 million people, and it has led a number of big tech companies and industrials to establish hubs in the country: Microsoft, Applied Materials, CNH Industrial, ANSYS, Pfizer, etc. Meanwhile, the country has a wide list of tech communities (recently counted 89), from engineering to product, AI, design, blockchain, and more.
The rise of deep tech
A high density of great technical talent makes Greece a fertile ground for breeding technological assets. Bright technical founders, whether they come from academia or industry, lead the charge and push the frontiers of what's possible, taking on some of society's toughest challenges:
enable breakthrough therapeutic innovations faster than ever before with AI (Causaly)
equip those defending European democracies with superhuman capabilities (Lambda Automata)
universal data management for any complex data and compute (TileDB)
make cheaper and faster transportation happen (iCOMAT)
develop AI chips for edge applications (Axelera AI)
And there are many more deep tech companies in energy, food, health, robotics, space, etc. Some of them even attracted the interest of industry-defining leaders and got acquired in the past years, such as Softomotive, Augmenta, Think Silicon, Lenses, Helic, Innoetics, Accusonus, Myrmex, etc.
Globally, deep tech enters the phase that software did a decade ago with better infrastructure, declining costs, willing buyers, and more available capital. Meanwhile, Western governments want to break free from the one-sided addiction of having pretty much everything we consume produced in China, leading to massive capital investment into the reindustrialisation of the West.
We need to dream, and then we need to build.
More people who’ve done it
Breeding technological assets is one thing, creating thriving businesses is another. In other words, there's a radical difference between doing R&D and building a prosperous business, and it sums up into rebellion, know-how, and capital. We can chat about culture and policy all you want, yet nothing beats watching your peers raise the bar repeatedly, building companies that go the distance and have significant liquidity events.
Massive exits in a community have three really important effects on the next generation of startups. First, they create Angels and motivate existing ones with FOMO (nothing motivates you to invest more than having passed on eventual unicorns). Second, they inspire startups with the infinite mindset, as role models. Third, they set a high bar for what is possible, forcing the community to think about growth all the time, and releasing all of these operators back into the ecosystem who know what unbounded, indefinite growth feels like.
In Israel, the successes of Waze, Mobileye, and Wix, helped redefine the goals of the Israeli venture. While in 2013, there were only two Israeli companies with a value of over a billion dollars — Waze and Wix — today, there are over a hundred.
“Previously, the norm for Israeli companies was to develop a product that would be a component within a larger framework and sell it for around $200-300 million. Waze showed that if you don't sell early, and instead build a significant company that leads in its category and brings enormous value, the result for entrepreneurs, investors, and the ecosystem is phenomenal.”
Or, as Paul Graham said in the past, “I think what holds back European hackers is simply that they don't meet so many people who've done it”. Today, more than ever, we can find Greeks in tech who are showing the way and acting as role models for the next wave of entrepreneurs — missionary founders determined to change the world, crush their competition, and go the distance. We need more people who’ve done it. Success breeds success. 10x, not 10%.
Check out job openings HERE from startups hiring in Greece, abroad, and remotely.
Causaly announced a $60m Series B bringing new top-notch partners on board, such as ICONIQ Growth, and ample resources to enable breakthrough therapeutic innovations faster than ever before with AI. At Marathon, we’re privileged to be a return investor, having led the company's seed round and doubling down in all consecutive rounds. (link)
Nabtesco, a world leader in motion control technologies, became the primary shareholder in DeepSea, which enables shipping companies to decrease fuel consumption and emissions by optimizing vessels and voyages. (link)
UniFund announced a €50m first close of its second fund to back university spinouts and startups across Europe. (link)
Consumer tech company Nothing raised $96m from Highland Europe, GV, EQT Ventures and others ahead of its new smartphone launch. The company has raised more than $250m to date. (link)
Music tech startup Mood raised a funding round led by Genesis Ventures. (link)
Privacy-first digital identity startup Magic announced funding from SFC Capital. (link)
Audiobook platform Bookvoice raised funding from Public Group. (link)
Winners of the NBG Business Seeds startup competition are ABcureD, Agritrack, RETOUCH-HS, e-cleaning. (link)
A curated collection of free resources for entrepreneurs by Alex Letsas, Growth at Dune Analytics. (link)
Revolutionising mental health through technology with Emilia Molimpakis, CEO & co-founder at thymia. (link)
Mikri Kouventa episode with Antonis Kalipetis & Paris Kasidiaris discussing quality code and ensuring the quality of applications shipped. (link)
Konstantine Buhler, Partner at Sequoia Capital, on AI and the frontier paradox. (link)
Owning my performance with Elena Markou, People Growth Lead at Skroutz. (link)