2021 Year In Review
Greek startups in 2021, new VC funds, eight funding rounds, building a grocery delivery unicorn, 1330 jobs, AI and Data Science research centre, and more
👋 Happy Friday! Welcome to Hunting Greek Unicorns #44. I’m Alex, a product guy turned VC, and every two weeks I send out a newsletter with everything you need to know about the Greek startup industry.
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🎅 2021 Year In Review
From the beginning of Hunting Greek Unicorns, I have posited that Greek tech presents a growing opportunity for founders, talent, investors, and in general everyone looking for a fast-moving industry on this side of the world. Every year, it reaches new heights in the number and calibre of builders, available capital, valuations, and opportunities. 2021 was no exception.
This is the last Hunting Greek Unicorns of 2021. And it’s been quite a year. There are two times as many of you here as there were this time last year, as we went down the rabbit hole of climate change, decentralised autonomous organisations, digital privacy, grocery delivery, and learned the fundamentals of fundraising, growth marketing, inside sales, search engine optimisation, product led growth, hiring, and much more.
I’m very thankful to all the founders and operators for taking the time to share their insights, journeys and lessons learned through this newsletter, and all of you for giving me a little bit of your time, attention and thoughts in 2021.
In this year’s 25 issues, I tried to unfold all the developments in the Greek startup industry covering news, funding rounds, job openings, interesting articles and podcasts, promising startups, communities and events. Following the release of a curated list of job openings in 2020 (which now includes more than 1,330 roles), this was also a year with product releases as, with the valuable help of a good friend, we launched a list of tech communities to help you find and connect with like-minded peers.
Before you head out for Christmas, I wanted to leave you with a summary of the most exciting updates that took place in 2021:
The largest funding round ever reported for a Greek founded startup with operations and a significant part of the team in Greece. Blueground raised $180m reaching a valuation of $750m in September. Moreover, Viva Wallet raised $80m in April and it was recently reported that the company is considering seeking a valuation of at least $1.7b. So for the first time, we have two companies that officially became soonicorns (or unicorns by the time I’m writing this?). And there are more of them following the same path 🦄
A large number of prominent investors backed teams in both early and growth stages. Index Ventures (Causaly), General Catalyst (Seafair), Insight Partners (LearnWorlds), Breyer Capital and Hedosophia (Viva Wallet), Tiger Global (Lifebit), Vista Equity Partners (Schoox), Coinbase Ventures (Metrika), just to name a few of them. The involvement of funds that have backed iconic tech companies such as Airbnb, Roblox, Datadog, Stripe, Delivery Hero, N26, Revolut and more, acts as a further testament to the potential of Greek tech.
A number of notable acquisitions took place, including Lenses by Celonis (the enterprise software decacorn), Niometrics by Mobileum (the telecom analytics provider), Moosend by Sitecore (the customer experience management company that has raised over $1b). These add to a growing trend: large tech companies acquire startups in Greece and build hubs in the country, not only by maintaining the operations of the existing teams, but doubling down on hiring (following the steps of Microsoft, Applied Materials, Ansys, and others). Nevertheless, none of the reported deals hit a record in terms of acquisition amount. Instashop’s $360m exit in 2020 remains the largest to date.
Most importantly, the community is vibing and really this is what makes me think we’re just getting started. Thousands of job openings, several meetups happening every week, communities on Discord, Slack and Facebook, high-quality podcasts, newsletters, valuable resources (such as this compensation report), founders mentoring and investing in other startups and VC funds, etc.
All these developments were far from a given a few years ago. I wrote about the flywheel of the Greek startup industry back in March to articulate a core mechanism of how I see this ecosystem growing. Well, the flywheel is alive and kicking, reiterating the underlying trend, which shows everyone what's possible: Successful tech companies can be built from Greece.
Last but not least, here’s also the 2021 list of Hunting Greek Unicorns issues:
The five most-viewed issues
A beginner’s guide to Decentralised Autonomous Organisations, Dean Pappas, co-founder, Grape
Attracting, developing and retaining world-class talent, Adonis Garefalakis (Signal Group), Eftychia Karavelaki (Workable), Elena Lymperi (GWI), Eleni Kourmentza (LearnWorlds), Nikos Bozikis (Blueground), Sanne Goslinga (Marathon Venture Capital)
A fundraising playbook, Agapitos Diakogiannis, founder & CEO, Seafair
Startup Deep Dives
Grocery delivery models, economics and flywheels, Ferto (co-authored with Marko Tsirekas, Head of Product, ZOE)
Breaking the knowledge silos, Avrio
Interviews with founders and operators
Inside sales teams, Georgios Gatos, CRO, Toggl
Search Engine Optimization, Yorgos Kleivokiotis, CMO, Blueground
A journey from launch to exit, Stefanos Katsimpas, Business Director, Skroutz Last Mile
Product Led Growth, John Papadakis, founder & CEO, Pollish
Growth marketing, Konstantinos Giamalis, CPO, efood
Decentralized communities, Eleftherios Diakomichalis, co-founder, Radicle
Hacking health and longevity, Nikos Drandakis, founder & CEO, Flyway
Building a cybersecurity community, Haris Pylarinos, co-founder & CEO, Hack The Box
Remote-first engineering teams, Sokratis Vidros, founding engineer, Clerk
Workplace productivity, Caterina Kostoula, Executive Coach
Product Leadership, Jason Keramidas, VP Product, Brace
List of startups within particular industries
🦄 Startup Jobs
Looking for your next opportunity? Check out job postings from Greek startups in Greece, abroad, and remotely. Company information is also available.
The third fund was announced for VentureFriends, with a size of €100m, aimed at Southern Europe, Middle East and LatAm.
Genesis Venture Fund announced the launch of its pre-seed investment fund with a size of €40m, to support early stage startups with mentorship, connections and capital. A team with previous experience in companies such as Google, Shopify, Oracle.
The past two weeks we also had several funding announcements from Greek-founded teams:
Vane (formerly BillFront), a fintech platform offering non-dilutive funding solutions to tech and media companies, raised a €50m funding round.
Runway raised $35m Series B led by Coatue to help more people tell stories with video.
Brainomix, an AI-powered medtech company, announced a Series B financing round, raising £16m to fund its expansion into new markets and new therapeutic indications, including lung fibrosis and cancer.
NFT lending platform Arcade raised $15m in Series A funding led by Pantera Capital.
Navenio, the health & location tech University of Oxford spin-out, announced an additional $12.6m funding round.
Cube RM raised an $8m Series A round by Runa Capital and Marathon Venture Capital to grow its tender management AI platform, providing an end-to-end, fully-automated solution for tender and government contracting for the first time in the market.
EMBIO Diagnostics, a biotech startup based in Cyprus that operates on the food supply chain diagnostics and data analytics space, raised a €1m Seed round.
Instacar, the car subscription service startup launched in 2019, raised additional funding round from Olympia Group and strategic investors.
Viva Wallet acquired a stake in a Polish software development company.
A new research centre was announced with focus on AI and data science, starting operations at the beginning of next year and led by Christos Papadimitriou, Konstantinos Daskalakis and Timos Sellis.
🤓 Interesting Reads
An overview of the current startup funding landscape in Greece with the latest fund announcements and more coming up.
Panos Siozos, co-founder & CEO of LearnWorlds, on the journey of LearnWorlds, helping people create online courses and more, here.
A post by George Zarkadakis, CEO of Voxiberate, sharing some thoughts on how to rethink DAOs in a world of complexity and polarization.
“Is AI the next wave of innovation in Biotech?”, by Demetris Iacovides, Principal at Big Pi Ventures, here.
Combining human intelligence and artificial intelligence for home pricing by George Valkanas, Staff Machine Learning Engineer at Compass, and Panos Ipeirotis, Professor at New York University, here.
A post on the recent Congressional hearing on crypto, mostly focused around stablecoins, from Panayotis Vryonis.
A podcast with Eleftherios Diakomichalis, co-founder of Radicle, on what Radicle is and how it’s different from using GitHub, code governance, creating new value flows for developers, and more.
Aspa Lekka, co-founder & COO of JOKR, on her journey building an instant commerce unicorn in less than a year of operations, here.
Dafni Chontou, co-founder & CEO of Wonderpath, on the future of work, improving your personal skills, feedback as a personal growth mechanism, no-code platforms, and more, here.
A Future Talks episode with Marios Messios, co-founder & CEO of Studio 3DX, discussing collaboration ways for architects and engineers, launching a product in the space, and reducing waste of materials and resources in construction.
“CityJS Conference 2022” by CityJS on May 25-27
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Thanks for reading. I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and I’m looking forward to a great 2022!
Greek Startup Pirate 👋