Last week we held our first Pre RG Challenge programme in London. The first of our new bespoke pre-accelerator programmes was created for Egg – Eurobank and Corallia’s joint CSR initiative which aims to boost young innovative entrepreneurship and improve employment opportunities for young people in Greece. Twelve Greek startups from industries such as tourism, software development and technology joined the programme.
The intense pre accelerator helped to connect Egg’s Greek startups with London’s entrepreneurial community. During the week, the entrepreneurs received a rich and intense 5 days of training on all aspects of start-up business. The programme incorporated business modeling, financials and the creation of an investment deck/presentation. The entrepreneurs did a lot of practice in pitching, both in terms of content, psychology and stage presence.
A team of dedicated mentors with international experience in big corporates and start-ups alike supported the entrepreneurs during the programme. Mike Sotirakos, the Pre RG Challenge Programme Director, defined the syllabus and delivered the programme but his role went beyond this. As Mike states, ‘My role was also to enable the founders of the 12 start-ups participating to dream and take a decisive step towards the realisation of their dreams. I put my favourite quote up on the wall on the first day; it captures the essence of my role – ‘All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.’ T E Lawrence.”
This new pre accelerator programme is designed to shape and sharpen the business model and psychology of the entrepreneurs so they can take practical steps to progress their business. Although it is a short programme and it is not possible to include the depth and detail of our flagship RG Challenge accelerator, it is the perfect training ground for it.
Exploring the UK investment and start-up ecosystem
The programme was peppered with talks from a number of experts, visits to leading startup locations such as Google Campus and WeWork and inspirational talks by entrepreneurs who are further along their entrepreneurial journey. These visits were very well received as they exposed participants to aspects of the London ecosystem; participants essentially saw it working from the inside and were inspired by other successful entrepreneurs. The programme helped to connect the Greek startups with London’s startup community as it created a strong bridge between the two communities. As Mike Sotirakos states, “It starts a conversation and provides a solid foundation for a very long term collaboration. Key to this is to familiarise all stakeholders with each other, open up the specific opportunities for collaboration and provide the tools and contacts to start this journey.”
The Pre RG Challenge programme included training on confidence building and pitching and on the final day of the course, an informal event introduced the start-ups to the joy of pitching in front of a judging panel and a London based investor. Our judging panel was tough but they longed to see the startups succeed. There was a lot of nervousness and excitement at the final pitch but after working hard all week, the startups had progressed well and their pitches were very professional and inspiring.
The final winning startup was ChainProof, a holistic platform for providing integral proofs of evidence via smart algorithms and block chain technology. Their Founder Dimitris is well placed to progress to the RG Challenge accelerator programme. Mike says, “Dimitris is a well educated, bright young man with a quiet but strong personality that takes on board feedback and proves his worth in the field. He is the type of man who prefers less words and more solid actions. His future looks very exciting.”
The other startup participants were software development company Mantis Business Innovation, 3H Services hospitality and construction services for holiday houses in Greece, Truevoyagers travel consultants and travel bloggers, bicycle tourism company Bikemeup, Knifeprint knife making company, Hopwave online booking platform for boat excursions and activities, Hands Up services to the deaf and hard of hearing, the Local buddy travel service app, Be My Quest abandoned village development company, the i-Business platform to improve interaction between shop retailers and wholesalers and Cleopatra’s Sponges, who aim to revive the natural sponge trading sector, while protecting the marine ecosystem.
We received lots of positive feedback during the Pre RG Challenge programme. Antonis Zervas, CEO of iBusiness said “It has been an amazing experience in London. I can’t thank you enough for the knowledge, networking, mentoring and fully personalised learning experience.”
Building international bridges and collaborations in London
Roula Bachtalia, Egg Programme Manager said “London’s startup scene is the biggest in Europe and ranks fourth globally behind Silicone Valley. Supported by Reload Greece the initiative was extremely successful.”
We thoroughly enjoyed meeting the Egg startups and we look forward to following them all as they progress their entrepreneurial journeys. It was a pleasure to work with Egg, as Mike Sotirakos states “I feel that the collaboration was an extreme success. A new tribe has formed between the RG people and Egg at all levels, we will be supporting every single one of them for the long haul.”
At the end of the programme, Mike said, “I absolutely loved being involved in the Pre RG Challenge programme. The praises we had from the start-up founders was humbling. It has been an honour to work alongside such bright people and to see such remarkable progress in their thinking and actionable ideas. I believe we have created a tribe that dares to believe. I feel part of an unstoppable generation that is already changing the future of Greece by creating new concepts and building international bridges and collaborations here in London. Watch this space as we multiply the members of this tribe with more new Pre RG Challenge programmes.”
We’ll be sharing a short video of the new programme soon so watch this space for more on the Pre RG Challenge.