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The 15 most representative cases of Greek startups operating in the US

The number of startups with Greek founders that have developed activities in the US is constantly increasing and some of these entrepreneurs will meet in the next few days with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Economic Diplomacy and Extroversion, Costas Fragogiannis, together with the Deputy Minister of Research and Technology, Christos Dimas.

Some of the founders, although of Greek origin, may not hold Greek citizenship, may not know the Greek language and, most importantly, may not be aware of the progress made by Greece’s innovation ecosystem in recent years, but, as noted in an updated study by the St. Francis Office of Economic and Commercial Affairs originally prepared in April 2020, informing them of the advantages that Greece now has as an investment destination can lead to new investments.

It is recalled that Silicon Valley has for decades provided fertile ground for the development of innovative business ideas and consequently attracts scientists and young entrepreneurs from all corners of the world. In this competitive environment, the Greek element is not missing, with many Greek and Greek-American start-up founders operating in the region and, as the study shows, a start-up with operations in both Greece and the US can exploit a number of advantages and achieve the best financing and perhaps even acquisition terms.

«Κατά τα τελευταία χρόνια αυξάνεται συνεχώς ο αριθμός των startups με Έλληνες ιδρυτές που έχουν αναπτύξει δραστηριότητα γενικά στις ΗΠΑ, κυρίως σε πόλεις όπως η Νέα Υόρκη, η Βοστώνη, το Λος ‘Angeles and Austin (Texas)” as the study states and with the aim of establishing an economic bridge between Greece and the US, the eight-day visit to Boston and San Francisco by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Economic Diplomacy and Extroversion Costas Fragogiannis and the Deputy Minister of Research and Technology Christos Dimas begins today, Saturday, December 11, in order to establish an economic bridge between Greece and the US.
The aim is to lay the foundations for a more systematic and substantial institutional presence of Greece in the cradle of technology with its ecosystem and the vehicles for this trip of the two Deputy Ministers are Elevate Greece, the official digital portal for start-ups, which presents the domestic innovation ecosystem and the specialised incentives provided, and Enterprise Greece, the Hellenic Investment and Foreign Trade Corporation.

Startup companies with Greek or Greek-American founders in the Western United States

It is indicative from the list accompanying the study (table attached) that there are several startup companies with Greek or Greek-American founders operating in Silicon Valley and some of them in other regions of the Western US, but there is also activity in Greece.

It is noted that the information was drawn from the companies’ websites, the founders’ LinkedIn profiles, publications in reputable online technology magazines and – in some cases – from discussions with the founders, investors and executives of the companies in question.

The mapping therefore shows that the vast majority of companies are formally incorporated in the State of Delaware (on the east coast of the US) due to the favourable legislation that this State has enacted regarding a number of issues that concern startups (bureaucracy, taxation, equity, investment, the judicial system, protection of founders’ personal property in case of startup failure, protection of intellectual property, etc.), but maintain their substantial operations and headquarters in the western states.

However, the list also includes several companies that have a presence both in Silicon Valley and in Greece. In these cases, the commercial part of the company is located in Silicon Valley (the sales department) and the technical part in Greece (the research and development of the innovative product or service). As noted, companies that have this dual presence are able to attract funding from US venture capital (VC) funds more easily, to reach their customers more effectively (in the usual case, technology companies based in Silicon Valley), and at the same time to develop their products in Greece with a workforce that is paid less than in the US labour market.

In some cases, it is added, companies may not have a presence in Greece, but they work with Greek programmers or engineers who work remotely, providing their services as outsourced contractors without being hired as employees. In some cases, they may even be employees of a subsidiary of the American company in Europe.

In addition, there are cases where companies cooperate with companies in Greece that take on projects from foreign companies on an outsourcing basis, i.e. on a project contract basis (e.g. they undertake to develop a part of a digital service or the design of a component of the final product).

Some of these companies have already had a successful track record of several years, while others are at a very early stage.

However, in most cases the founders of the companies were graduate students at local universities (Stanford, Berkeley, etc.) and developed their innovative ideas during their studies, as US universities have particularly well-developed offices for the exploitation of research results for commercial applications. Several founders have participated in local accelerator programmes at internationally renowned accelerators or developed their innovative product in Greece and then found themselves in Silicon Valley to raise capital.

In terms of activity sectors, the range is extensive and includes diverse, specialised industries. As a general observation, the majority of companies are involved in digital applications aimed at other companies (B2B) rather than the end consumer (B2C).

It is important to note that some of the founders, although of Greek origin, do not have Greek citizenship, do not know the Greek language and are not aware of the remarkable progress made by Greece’s innovation ecosystem in recent years. Therefore, it is estimated that the approach of these founders in particular and the promotion of Greece as an investment destination for the expansion of their companies’ activities may receive a positive response. The Greek origins and the need that is often observed for Greek-Americans to maintain a link with their ancestral homeland, combined with the constantly improving investment climate in Greece in the technology sector in recent years, create the conditions for the successful attraction of foreign entrepreneurs of Greek origin to our country. Often, Greece can be seen as a holiday destination.

However, realising the advantages of operating in Greece (high quality human resources for staffing their company and start-up friendly conditions), their expansion in Greece is emerging as a business advantageous option. A choice that combines a profitable business move with the strengthening and deepening of family and personal ties with their place of origin”.

The mapping of startups with Greek founders that have developed operations in the US in general

The study also includes a list of examples of the success of some startups in recent years that have secured significant amounts of funding from US venture capital funds and have been acquired by larger companies in their respective industries.

According to the data, in many cases the founders of these companies after the acquisition go on to found new companies (serial entrepreneurs), engage in investment (either as angel investors or by setting up investment funds) and/or act as advisors to technology start-ups.

It is recalled that the Silicon Valley Greek Seed Fund was created in 2011 by a group of successful entrepreneurs from the Greek community to invest in Greek startups in Silicon Valley. Unfortunately, this investment scheme was short-lived and made essentially only one significant investment (in BugSense).

The most representative cases of company development

Finally, the study singles out, indicatively, some representative cases of companies with successful growth and funding. These are the following cases:

Aisera

Aisera is the fourth company founded in Silicon Valley by Christos Tryfonas. Founded in 2017, Aisera offers IT operations automation, sales and customer service services through artificial intelligence applications. The company announced securing a third round of funding of $40 million in April 2021 with total funding of $90 million.

Arrikto

Arrikto offers tools for designing computational learning (ML, machine learning) applications. It was founded in 2015 by Konstantinos Venetsanopoulos and Vangelis Koukis and has offices in San Francisco and a research and development department in Athens. In November 2020, the company secured a first round of $10 million in funding from Unusual Ventures (a Silicon Valley venture capital investment firm).

BetterUp

Founded by Alexi Robichaux (of Greek descent from his mother) in 2013, BetterUp operates in the mental health industry offering coaching to business executives. It employs around 2,500 mental health coaches and uses artificial intelligence tools for behavioral analysis. The company’s services are available to 370 companies in 90 countries. In the summer of 2021, the company announced its expansion into Europe with offices in London and Munich. In early October 2021 it secured a fifth round of funding of $300 million.

Blueground

Blueground provides furnished apartments for rent for periods longer than one month in 15 cities around the world. Its US headquarters are in New York, but it also provides services in San Francisco. In September 2021 announcement of securing a third round of funding of $180 million, the largest funding to date for a Greek startup.

Centaur Analytics

Company developing sensors to record storage conditions of agricultural products. Based on the measurements collected by the sensors, crop storage parameters are analyzed in order to prevent food loss. Founded in 2014, the company is based in Volos and has offices in Southern California. The company joined the Endeavor Greece network in 2018.

Helic

Helic, a company that developed software to simulate the operation of microprocessors, an activity that is part of the EDA Electronic Design Automation sector. Founded in 2000 in Athens and moved its headquarters to Santa Clara (Silicon Valley) in 2007, maintaining its R&D department in Athens. The initial investment came from Atmel’s founder, Greek-American George Perlegos. The company was acquired by US-based ANSYS, a leading simulation software company with offices in 45 countries, in 2019.

Matternet

Company that makes drones for transporting small packages through cities with founder Andreas Raptopoulos having offices in Mountain View where he makes the drones. Matternet’s founder attended Singularity University’s entrepreneurship program in 2011, the year the company was founded. Already hospitals in Switzerland are using drones to transport medicine. The company has a continuous upward trend and in the summer of 2019 it closed a major deal with UPS. In September 2021, the company announced a partnership with the Ministry of Health in Abu Dhabi to create the first medical supply transport network with drones covering the entire city.

Miroculus

Biotech company Miroculus has developed an innovative diagnostic device, is headquartered in San Francisco and in March 2021 secured $45 million in second round funding. It was founded by Faye Christodoulou who attended Singularity University’s entrepreneurship program in 2013 and joined the Endeavor Greece network in October 2020.

yrmex

Founded in 2015 by Ioannis Kanellos and Orestis Feinekos, it has developed an automated order pick-up point where self-driving robotic vehicles collect products from the warehouse for delivery to consumers. The company is headquartered in Silicon Valley and its R&D department in Athens.

NovaCredit

A fintech company co-founded by Niki Goolimi that has offices in New York and San Francisco. NovaCredit has developed a credit passport for use by foreign professionals and students in the US to access banking services (credit card, loans, etc.). Niki Wulimi participated in the Y Combinator business accelerator program in 2016.

Orfium

Company in the music industry. Developed a platform to detect copyright infringements of authors. Its clients are music publishers and record labels. Maintains a presence in Los Angeles and Athens. The research and development department based in Athens has 120 employees. It was awarded the first national award for start-ups at the 2021 TIF by Elevate Greece, the Ministry of Development’s National Registry of Start-up Companies.

Sentio Solutions

A healthtech company with founders George Eleftheriou and Haris Tsirba that has an office in San Francisco and a subsidiary in Greece. It has developed the Feel product, a bracelet with temperature, heart rate, etc. sensors that allows continuous monitoring of the user’s psychological state and real-time delivery of personalized messages to address symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Yodeck

Company that has developed a digital signage platform that allows users to manage displays of promotional messages remotely via the internet or mobile phone. Founders are Vangelis Michalopoulos and Dimitris Tsigos (also founder of Epignosis and Greek VC fund Starttech Ventures).

Zeit Medical

New biotech company that developed an early stroke detection device. It is in an early stage of development. Founder is Orestis Vardoulis, a Stanford graduate. In 2021, he was accepted into the entrepreneurship program of the renowned Silicon Valley accelerator, Y Combinator. The company secured $2 million in seed round funding in October 2021.

Zumper

This is a fast-rising company that has developed an online platform to search for apartments for rent using artificial intelligence tools. It is based in San Francisco and was founded in 2012 by Anthemos Georgiades. The online platform and its corresponding mobile app are used by 70 million users. It secured a $60 million fourth round of funding in March 2020.

The article The 15 most representative cases of Greek startups operating in the US was originally published on Fortunegreece.com.

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