The pandemic seems to have had a different effect on the domestic ecosystem, with some startups downsizing and others beefing up their staff.
According to a study conducted annually by Found.ation in conjunction with EIT Digital (part of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology), the initial phase of the health crisis “hit” some startups. In particular, taking into account LinkedIn Insights which records the evolution of their human resources over the last two years, it emerges that:
Blueground reduced its workforce by 84 people between February and May 2020.
As a reminder, the decision by the company, which manages more than 3,600 fully equipped and furnished high-end accommodations in over 12 cities around the world, renting them for more than 30 days, was announced by the CEO himself, Mr. Alexandros Hatziefthertheriou.
Specifically, in a statement posted on social media, he said, “During the COVID-19 pandemic, our thoughts are primarily with those who are suffering – physically or financially – around the world.
Under other circumstances, the company would not have taken such a decision, but today, however, the company is forced to take such action. This crisis has affected businesses worldwide. Travel, hospitality and real estate are the sectors most affected.
Blueground has taken immediate action: it has frozen its growth and recruitment and is also reducing its operating costs. Unfortunately, today we have to part ways with over 130 colleagues, a quarter of our team, who are either leaving the company permanently or having their contracts temporarily suspended.
These are brilliant workers who in any other circumstances we would fight to keep them close to us.” Sources at Blueground, however, were quick to point out that the redundancies do not relate to the Greek market, for which they have chosen the solution of suspending employment contracts.
Welcome Pickups went from having 93 employees in February 2020to half that number, or 47 last May.
The startup of Alexandros Trimi and Savvas Georgiou, which, working with professional drivers, undertakes to meet all the needs of a traveler (from transportation or products they may want to purchase to suggestions around entertainment or education) operates in over 50 cities worldwide.
Last October, in fact, it announced a partnership with Blueground to provide secure airport transfers for its renters in Athens, Paris, Istanbul and Dubai.
Finally, Lyvly reduced its staff by 40% – from 40 employees in February to 30 last August. This is a London-based company that offers apartments for long-term – but flexible – lease to its members and which secured funding from Apostolos Apostolakis’ Venture Friends.
On the flip side, some startups saw an increase in demand due to the pandemic and continued to grow. In support of this, LearnWorlds, run by George Palageorgiou, Fani Despotakis and Panos Siozos, managed to increase its staff by 10 people (from 29 in February to 39 in May 2020). It is an all-in-one training platform that allows professional trainers and organisations to sell their courses online through their own website.
Labour supply and demand
According to Found.ation’s study, in the midst of a pandemic, many startups were looking for staff to fill some emergency needs. “Last April, a Twitter account called ‘Greek Startup Pirate’ started posting a table of jobs in the Greek ecosystem.
The account continued to do so for the following months, compiling job opportunities in some of the biggest and best-known startups,” Found.ation points out. The relevant board in April included 170 jobs from 37 startups, while the one in August had about 293 jobs in 90 startups.
The five companies with the most job openings on average were:
- Beat (14)
- Deus Ex Machina (11.75)
- Signal Ocean (11.25)
- eFood (10)
- Ferryhopper (10).
“We must be careful not to interpret the numbers as the overall picture of the Greek startup scene,” Found.ation points out, recalling that layoffs at several companies made headlines last time. “The number of job openings is a positive sign of growth for the domestic ecosystem,” it concludes.
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