It’s official, the Oπe\n Conference is here to stay. Well it is based on the great success of the recent inaugural event which we at Starttech took part in.

Oπe\n conference success shines through

In tech startup land (and in life, actually) we often talk of “managing expectations”. And it looks like the organizers of the conference have a job on their hands for the next year. That’s just after two great days of focus on technology innovations in the areas of Cloud and Python.

Over the two days on the last weekend of March, there were 19 guest speakers (including 6 great keynote speeches) with exceptional background experience, as well as 13 tech communities present in all.

We had two of our very own “superstar engineers” from our portfolio companies. Thanassis Parathyras of Stackmasters and Nikos Kapetanos from Yodeck. More on their talks and reactions later.

What is the Οπe\n conference (pronounced open)?

Before we get into the reactions and takeaways, for the uninitiated here are a few words about the event. Οπe\n is an initiative by Nokia in Greece. It’s aim is to interconnect and foster the development of the local SW Development and IT ecosystem. While those of us already deep within the community know and recognize Greece’s innovative talent in this area, the idea is to build even more awareness. The goal is to help it gain a more prominent position, while also contributing to the reduction of brain drain.

Our speakers’ insights

So how did it all go and what did our speakers think? Over to them to explain.

Thanassis Parathyras – “A practitioner’s tale on Cloud”

Thanassis Parathyras, Stackmasters - Open Conference

“Overall, I found the Oπe\n conference to be a big success! A great example of a technology conference organized in Greece by the local software development community for its members. The attendance was exceptionally high. This gave a really strong pulse to the event. The speakers delivered world-class content addressing the state of the art work being done here in Greece, as well as industry innovations in software engineering.”

“On the first day I shared my connection and work with OpenStack. My involvement was to support the preparation and the conference setup from its conception by small groups of people working with Nokia Hellas. I suggested topics and speakers, as well a giving a talk myself.”

On defining the cloud

“Cloud gives you the opportunity to use infrastructure resources with a great flexibility and elasticity.”

Those who are experienced would agree that cloud technology has two main characteristics: it is self-serviced and provides application control. Today it’s really simple to register with a cloud provider and use a software as service(SaaS), a platform as a service (PaaS) and an infrastructure as a service(IaaS).”

On cloud characteristics and benefits

“Cloud is an alternative resource that gives you the option to pay only for what you use. It allows many users to consume these technologies without the need to dive deep into the details. One of the key benefits is that cloud expands automation to another level.”

The rest of Thanassis’ presentation was focused on more practical information. More specifically on how Ansible helps you build and launch applications in cloud environments. His key piece of advice at the end of his talk was this:

“Follow best practices and get help from the community to solve complications and challenges. Collaboration is the key to success with the cloud. This Oπe\n conference is another step on that path.”

Nikos Kapetanos – “Build an IoT SaaS using Python”

Nikos Kapetanos, Yodeck - Open Conference

After giving an introduction about all the technologies yodeck uses, Nikos honed in on the essential tools – mostly Python-based ones – that are needed to build a solid SaaS. “Yodeck is by nature an IoT (Internet of Things) SaaS with screens being the ‘things’,” was his short version. 🙂

Apart from the technical part of his presentation, Nikos also talked about support systems and additional tools that automate transactions with customers. Open communication channels that connect you with customers, where they can submit and upvote features, is key for Nikos. And, how important it is to provide customers with support articles to solve any difficulties they may have.

Consider customers’ satisfaction

Finally, he focused on how crucial it is to stay updated concerning your customers’ satisfaction by conducting relevant polls.

Nikos says:

“It’s really important to gather data on how users are using your product, analyze them and implement the required changes. And you have to do that fast.”

Yodeck and all the other Starttech portfolio companies follow lean and agile methodologies. Nikos referred to this part:

“The lean way of doing business where you iterate and build-measure-learn steps, has helped us immensely.”

Scine Yodeck was a gold sponsor of the event, the company’s CEO Vangelis Michalopoulos was also on hand to deliver a talk about something complete different.

Vangelis Michalopoulos – “The pursuit for happiness”

Vangelis Mihalopoulos, Yodeck - Open Conference

Vangelis gave a poignant talk about cultivating a happy and productive workplace. Yes, an important subject, which should not be underestimated. He focused on the practical part of setting up procedures on how teams should work, as well as how iteration cycles are handled so everyone is happy.

“We discuss with the team even the financial concepts of the business, which is crucial to understand the whole picture and what is the impact is of what you do as an employee. Pinball machines won’t make you enjoy the office more. Not even super-modern or quirky interior design features. It takes much more than that to cultivate a deep sense off fulfillment among your employees – as well as a culture of trust.”

What makes the difference?

So here’s what makes the difference according to the Yodeck CEO:

  1. Team. We humans are social by nature. Teamwork, team spirit and all these buzzwords are important only if you get the real essence of their meaning. That’s why you should do everything you can to put them into practice.
  2. Personal development. A job (opportunity and environment) that helps you grow and evolve both professionally and in personal aspects.
  3. Added value services, such as the ones that are being offered within Starttech like language and fitness classes, in-house library and other activities are not just perks. They help you to shape a better version of yourself.

“All of these things contribute to how you relate to your work. You need see beyond the technical side of it, see the whole picture and the impact your work has on the bottom line. These are the ingredients that make a healthy, fulfilling and fruitful working environment where each employee is valued and evolves day-by-day. And that’s exactly what Yodeck within Starttech strives to offer its employees.”

Hear, hear Vangelis. Call me a lazy writer if you like. But there’s no better conclusion that I could conjure up to better sum it all up than that.


Graham Wood Graham Wood

The Starttech Ventures Storyteller. Studied Journalism with Business at the University of Central Lancashire. Has worked in various product marketing management positions for the likes of Nokia, Samsung and Vodafone, as well as in several journalism and media roles since 2000.