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Could this start-up save the Greek economy?

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A five-day accelerator, run in London by Reload Greece, hopes to develop ideas that can have an immediate social and economic impact on the debt-ridden country.

A week-long start-up accelerator program kicks off today in London with the aim of finding an idea that will make an immediate contribution to the crisis-worn Greek economy.

Six short-listed companies will work with mentors and investors, including Google executive Steve Vranakis and George Kartakis of Paypal-owned Braintree, to refine their ideas before competing in a Dragons Den-style event at the end of the week.

The ideas include a chemical formula to protect historical sites from graffiti, a scheme to recycle unused hotel toiletries, a Mastiha liqueur importer, an online education manager, a digital diary for booking civil weddings and an internet shop for items handmade by Greek businesses.

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Google’s Steve Vranakis speaking at a previous Reload Greece event

 

The accelerator challenge, which is run in partnership with Watershed Entrepreneurs, has been organised by Reload Greece, a non-profit organisation that encourages entrepreneurship from Greek expats and others that will have a social and economic impact in Greece.

“As we are based in London, we are tapping into the diaspora, the global community who are connected with Greece,” said co-founder Effie Kyrtata, a 25-year-old Athenian who moved to London seven years ago.

“We’ve seen a lot of people leave Greece and come to other countries – the brain drain, the lost generation – and lose contact with Greece. We want to create a bridge between Greece and the UK.”

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Capital controls imposed in the summer saw Greek pensioners unable to access their funds Photo: AFP/Getty

 

Reload Greece, which has helped entrepreneurs raise £1m in funding over the last 18 months, usually runs mentorship schemes that run over several months but was prompted to do the intense accelerator in response to the recent economic developments in Greece.

“This is our effort to do something fast, because of the great need that exists,” Kyrtata said.

“We are aiming to activate the community that resides abroad to make an immediate impact now. What can we do that will help the Greek economy straight away by using the youth and the people who have left?”

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Reload Greece co-founder, Effie Kyrtata

 

The six start-ups, which were selected from more than 30 applications from the UK and Europe, will refine their business plans, hear from successful entrepreneurs and work with expert mentors, before pitching to a panel of investors.

The winner will receive five free business coaching sessions from Eudaimonia Coaching, but Reload Greece hopes that all the participants will be able to contribute to the Greek economy by creating jobs and boosting businesses.

The non-profit organisation also sees its task as more than financial.

“We want to change the perception that the world has about Greece by showcasing young and successful entrepreneurs who can make a difference,” Kyrtata said.

“There is a crisis and we need to be motivated to create new things.”

These are the six shortlisted ideas:

CleanHands (scholarship winner): this non-profit organisation is recycling unused soap bars and toiletries from hotels, turning them into low-cost, eco-friendly personal hygiene and household cleaning products.

Unnamed: this team is developing a chemical formula to preserve and protect historical sites and monuments from surface vandalism such as graffiti.

Mastiha World: the only UK-based company that specialises in the Greek anise-flavoured liqueur wants to help the product reach mass market.

MetaLearner: this business allows people to manage their own education through free and paid online and physical courses.

BookYourWeddingDay.com: the first international online platform for civil weddings will provide a live schedule covering two years of available dates and times for ceremonies.

Charisma Gifts: this online shop will sell exclusive handmade delicacies, accessories, homeware and body care products made by Greek businesses.

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