Success is always the aim. But more often than not one needs to try, and possibly fail, before succeeding. In Greece, failure is widely perceived as something finite, something virtually irreversible. This is a misperception that hinders entrepreneurship.
The negative spiral of recession brought about by persisting austerity is also a major discouragement for business. And while several reforms were much anticipated, the endemic rigidities, which are not exclusive to the state, seem to paralyze far-reaching positive change.
But something new and dynamic with immense potential is struggling to be born, defying the crisis and its adversities. This potential is what Carla Tanas and I saw and decided to set up the ID-GC as an umbrella, a catalyst for the nascent ecosystem. The ID-GC’s aim is to embrace the new, productive, innovative efforts of Greek entrepreneurs and their start-ups, while Disrupt is here to project their work on the global scene. Disrupt now is evolving into a global happening. This is important for both the ecosystem and Athens. The former gains a platform from which it can pitch, test and sell its ideas to the global market. Athens benefits too, seeing its brand as a venue for international conference tourism strengthened by the magnitude and visibility of Disrupt. This is our ultimate aim: to make Disrupt a truly international event.
This year’s Disrupt Start-up ScaleUP gives us good reason for optimism: It opens Global Entrepreneurship Week, a key institution, for the first time ever in Greece; it is being held under the auspices of UNESCO, the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV), the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) and the City of Athens – while it enjoys the support of institutions ranging from the Hellenic Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (SFEE) and the Federation of Hellenic ICT Enterprises (SEPE) to the US Embassy, Orange Grove and the British Council; it is attended by nearly 200 start-uppers, and young entrepreneurs from all over the world; and it is broadcast live to 150 countries via livestream. The Greek ecosystem has a shot. We believe so, and we will make sure the world sees. Now it is down to the progressive, creative and vibrant citizens who do not fear innovative disruption to join this weekend with all those who upset in order to construct. * Michalis Stangos is the co-founder of Industry Disruptors – Game Changers (ID-GC) and curator of Disrupt Start-up ScaleUP 2014.