Thessaloniki Is The Place To Found Your Startup

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Thessaloniki is the second biggest city in Greece and it also has a vibrant startup community - just two of the many reasons to found in this city! Make sure to check out our other tips too!

Check out the infographic for Thessaloniki!

Dear doers, makers, and shakers. Welcome to Thessaloniki’s Startup City Guide. You might be aware of our beloved city for the party vibe and the goddamn, oups!, beautiful beaches of the nearby Chalkidiki. Ok, rewind this for a moment; we do also have a special super active and fast moving tech community that “is not yet a baby”.

Thessaloniki is the biggest European city before Asia, it lays on the coastline of Thermaikos gulf and inhabits around 1 million people. The city is founded in 315 B.C. and named after the sister of Alexander the Great. Throughout the centuries it has been home for many cultures including Greeks, Turks, Jews and Romans. Any of them left a twist so that you can hardly not feel at home.

Tech startups that grow here develop products and services mainly for the web, using SaaS business models. Great cases of local products are Book’n’Bloom, Goodvidio and SchooX. Why they are here? Well, they are taking advantage of the everyday human environment, the comparatively low wages, the endless talent pool of creative locals, and other opportunities such as our world class tech conference Devit that happens here every May.

Unlike Greek macroeconomics, the local tech scene grows; outperforming the traditional super cool pace of doing stuff here in Thessaloniki. Tech communities have increased exponentially over the past years and individual professionals decided to work remotely, living in a calm and highly creative environment.

Heading To Thessaloniki

Keep in mind that the coolest thing you can find here, is the air that makes you super productive and lets you connect with peers easily. Thessaloniki is built to help you attend community meetups without having to change 3 shuttle buses. One realizes that everything is set to facilitate the growth of a prolific tech hub.

Advantages To Start A Business In This City:

  • The city is set on the crossroad of Europe and Asia. It welcomes businesses who want to connect those markets. It is actually the closest to the Asian markets, European city. Istanbul is just a 6 hours car ride.
  • Aristotle University, 230,000 m² in the center of the city, has more than 100.000 students. Along with other institutions Thessaloniki has a constant wheelpower of almost 200.000 tertiary educated people seeking to make their next step.
  • City center is 20 minutes from the airport and all major venues are located downtown. You can go on foot almost everywhere.
  • Set-up and operating costs are low. You can legally set-up a P.C.(private company) – with an initial share capital of €1. Then you’ll need around €500 for insurance, legal and accounting per month.
  • The startup community is in the building so you can always contribute your pebble doing something that adds value. Locals will be on your side.

Things To Consider:

  • As you probably know Greece is in this famous crisis.
    • Tax Rate is 29%(x2), as you also deposit your taxes for the next operating year, while VAT is 24%.
    • There is lack of capital here. What you do in Thessaloniki is build your product without distractions and travel to find capital for your business. Famous startup destinations for the capital quest are Athens, London and Berlin. Plane tickets are inexpensive and there are also low budget airlines, so travelling often is quite affordable.
  • Although it takes 3-5 days to legally establish a company, we are still at the age of stamps and paper. I sometimes believe, that there might not be heavier public office processes on planet earth and that’s why I always pay someone to represent me.
  • You cannot find big tech companies’ HQs here, except BETA CAE that started local and grew global.
  • There is a possibility that you tell people you are building a tech startup and they stare at you like you are an alien.

Dive Into Thessaloniki’s Vibrant Community

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In this part you can actually see what happens when a crisis meets Greek everyday normal guys. The great majority of the following communities have been created over the last 2 years. People came together in order to join forces. Have a look on what they have achieved.

  • SheSharp is a greek community of people dedicated to promote women’s engagement with technology & science. Its main activities consist of free workshops, meetups open to anyone interested, as well as partnerships with other tech communities and local chapters of Thessaloniki.
  • Open Coffee Thessaloniki – The oldest and most popular meeting point for any local involved with technology.
  • thessrb is a group of (not just) geeks, who love Ruby (among other things), live (not just) in Thessaloniki (Greece), and meet at least once a month to throw some presentations (sometimes) and have beers (every time).
  • Node.js Thessaloniki – An initiative to connect “Noders” in order to exchange ideas, knowledge and experience. A chance to hear how others are using Node.js to solve real life problems.
  • The PyThess meetup is the best meetup in existence, and also ever. Its goal is to get people who are interested in the Python programming language in the same room together, and then go for drinks. We aim to talk about Python, world domination and various other everyday topics.
  • Cocoaheads SKG meets every last Tuesday of the month and bring together developers for drinks and talks about anything Apple related.
  • Java meetup – This is a group for anyone interested in java, j2ee, jvm languages, clean code practices, android development, etc. All skills levels are welcome. I started this group to meet and share ideas and knowledge with other java enthusiasts. Looking forward to exploring new java paths with everybody.
  • Agrientrepreneurship meetup is a group active in agricultural entrepreneurship. They meet to discuss a topic with an invited speaker in agro-food (production, processing, packaging, branding, promotion etc.), agri-tourism and agro-technology.
  • WordPress Thessaloniki – A group for WordPress fans of all levels to share their experiences, passion and love for the platform. They are part of the greater Greek WordPress community, supported by 2200+ members.
  • Bitcoin and Blockchain tech meetup is all about learning more about cryptocurrencies. We make regular introductions to Bitcoin and the blockchain as well as more advanced talks on the in’s and out’s of this new and exciting technology. Join them if you want to be part of the community and be updated on all related events in Thessaloniki (and elsewhere).
  • Toastmasters – An open, learning-by-doing workshop in which participants hone their speaking and leadership skills in a no-pressure atmosphere.
  • Behance Thessaloniki – The point of reference for the creative community of the city. Twice annually, Behance presents Portfolio Review Week, an unprecedented series of volunteer-organized events that has spread to hundreds of cities internationally, with a goal of bringing together creative professionals.
  • Open Thessaloniki aspires to be a platform for collecting data related to the town of Thessaloniki and develop, in tandem, applications and services aiming at open government.
  • dotNETZone – This is a group for anyone interested in .NET programming and programming in general. Focused but not limited to people who are currently or were in the past employed as developers so we can discuss things about our profession too. All skills and levels are welcome.
  • Drupal community – Like any other open source project that respects itself. One of the most powerful CMSs has its own community here.
  • The lab by triple HELIX – The global student-run forum for science and technology issues, promoting interdisciplinary discussion. The aim of this lab is to inspire students start their own projects and offer them the necessary guidance.
  • SKG Startupers – This is a group for startup creators and visionaries from Thessaloniki and beyond! The group meets in a monthly relaxed open discussion and networking event, where people can “pitch” their ideas, efforts, aspirations and get valuable feedback by members or experts in their field of interest.
  • Thessaloniki Arduino – Hacking hardware with the guru’s help. Talks presentations, panel discussions, hands-on workshops, open days, or show-and-tell events. Everybody is welcome.
  • Agile – A place to change your mindset radically – These guys believe that following a Lean thinking and growing an Agile mindset could help us, as individuals, to get improved and trigger some positive changes in our organisations. I totally agree with that.
  • #Steki (Not Just a Social Media Community) – An informal, spontaneously organised, online social event. Anyone from anywhere in the world is welcome to join -please bring along your open mind. #Steki brings together people who are fascinated by the open and co-operative mentality that the social web has brought upon humans as well as businesses.

Major Annual Events, Conferences, Festivals:

Apart from all the above mentioned community meetups, you can also find some yearly held events. I would propose to attend some, depending on your stage and what you would like to learn.

  • Devit Conference – Our community driven conference that will run its 3rd instance in May 2017. Get ready to step out of your comfort zone! Learn about the latest trends and techniques for Frontend, Backend, DevOps and Mobile! Meet the experts, the evangelists, the masterminds! Grab your chance to attend on Friday, the 15th of May.
  • Voxxed Days – Happens on the 21st of October 2016 and brings together popular speakers, core developers of popular open source technologies and professionals willing to share their knowledge and experiences. It’s a 2 days event, one pre-conference day with workshops and the main event day with 2 keynote sessions, 3 tracks on different topics and 17 international speakers.
  • TEDx Thessaloniki – Independently organized TED event. At TEDxThessaloniki 2015 we attempted to search for bridges between science and everyday life, past and present, high-tech and childhood innocence, the metropolises of the world and the most remote areas on the map, government and citizens. Attend on the 23th of May, 2017.
  • Among the Gods – Organized by a group of young, highly educated people, ATG aims to set up Greece’s first international startup event, gathering some of the best international entrepreneurs and the main startup ecosystem influencers from Greece and South-Eastern Europe.

Get Started At A Co-working Space In Thessaloniki

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So after attending some of our awesome meetups as well as our annual conferences you are fully inspired and would like a place to work. Here is where to go. Traditional open co-workings as well as closed offices and of course Thessaloniki’s hackerspace. Have a look at the following:

  • Coho, The co-working home – The place to be the incubator of your success. It provides business facilities and services tailored to your needs. This is the traditional, collaboration, business development and shared workspace, in the center of Thessaloniki.
  • LAMBDASPACE – A 100m2 space dedicated to creative software and hardware hacking. Workshops, hackathons and meetups they now have their space in Thessaloniki. An open community of makers, coders, ninjas, engineers, designers and you.
  • PointZero (in the making) – An open space for all the tech, startup and design communities of Thessaloniki to make it their home.Want to donate? Just do it through Point Zero’s page.
  • Make DIY – Like to do it yourself? This is the place for you. 3D printers, laser cutters and a co-working corner to work along with the most creative people in town.
  • Moreover, Citymaps provides more spaces that I’d also like to visit.

Take Care Of Your Finances In Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki_guide_financing.

We are still at the the early stage. Thessaloniki is not, yet, the place that capital firms have strong presence. However, we do have some Greek VCs based in Athens with Venture Friends being the most active lately. Then Openfund, Odyssey and the PJ tech catalyst, also based in Athens, are usually looking to invest part of their whole fund in companies of northern Greece.

Other capital sources may be local and national startup competitions such as the John and Mary Pappajohn Business Plan Award provided, along with Venture Garden, by the American college of Thessaloniki, ennovation, a student competition co-organized by local universities, i-bank and the Hellenic Initiative.

Frankly speaking, Thessaloniki is the city where you can develop your product with no distractions having the opportunity to join several cool community meetups, mingle with like minded people and add value to your organization. We are kinda poor regarding local funding opportunities but, you can always set-up your company in a more investor friendly country while keeping your development and operations departments here.

Get Further Advice In Thessaloniki

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OKthess, a space for early stage entrepreneurs where you can get further advice on your idea, business model and funding opportunities is in the building. Apart from that, Thessaloniki is small and connected. So the best place to seek for advice is the community itself. People can guide you to the right meetup, person and/or place. You could also join the pages mentioned above but what it works in Thessaloniki better is the word of mouth channel.

You’d like something more specific eh? SKGTech people got you covered! They have already created a 250+ people Slack community. Get your personal invitation, explore the channels and get me online to ask for more information.

Ready for Thessaloniki?

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Last updated: September 26th, 2016

The guides are like startup communities – they contstantly change and grow. Make sure to check for updates and if you have something to add to one of them or want to publish one for your city, get in touch right away! And don’t forget to enrich the startup ecosystem by creating your company profile at StartUs!

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