I’ll start by questioning even my own wisdom of posing this as an actual point of debate. Let me read it to myself again to check: ‘Why you should work at a startup in Athens’. Yes, definitely a no-brainer.
Let me get all of my bias out of the way and say up front that Athens, and Greece in general, is simply a great place to live and work. Period.
But, since we’re here, let’s have a look at the question in more detail anyway, for anyone out there who may have any doubts. Disclaimer: bear with my bias, please. But basically I can think of many reasons why you should work at a startup in Athens. And I can’t think of any concrete reasons not to. Well, apart from the city’s obsession with concrete (there you go, there’s one negative point).
Anyway, for the purpose of this post, I’ll try to manage expectations and come up with at least a few more difficulties that may make you think twice; before eventually moving to Athens to join a startup. 😉
Why you should work at a startup in Athens: an introduction
How about we start at what your overall options are? Irrespective of age, profession and specialty, you have the same choices as everybody else. Work for yourself, work for a startup, work for a small to medium-sized business; or try your luck in a corporate environment. That is if you’re not in one of those ‘classic’ professions, such as doctor, lawyer, police force, etc.
Even if I prefer not to start with negative vibes, let’s have a look at the cons of doing something other than working at a startup in Athens. Then we’ll look at the pros of working elsewhere in other environments.
- Startup elsewhere: it’s not Athens
- Working for yourself elsewhere: it’s not Athens
- Working for a small to medium-sized business elsewhere: it’s not Athens
- Corporate environment: really? Have you even seen Mr. Robot?
- Startup elsewhere: you may earn more money
- Working for yourself elsewhere: you may earn more money
- Working for a small to medium-sized business elsewhere; you may earn more money and have a better chance of fast-track career development
- Corporate environment: really? as above.
So, is that all?
Well, no. To elaborate a little more on the pros of working somewhere other than a startup in Athens, depending on your skill set and experience, you may find that there are better opportunities in terms of remuneration, career advancement and all the things attached to that. And, working in startups or an accelerator — or a Venture Builder — in alternative destinations such as Silicon Valley, London, Berlin, etc also have the attraction of great cultural experiences, attractive lifestyles and very good and well-organized civil services. There’s also next-level networking opportunities. Hence, perhaps you will not have to work as hard to expand your network of contacts.
So there you go. The conundrum of why you should work at a startup in Athens or not, just got slightly more complex.
Let’s say you have already decided that you want to work at a startup. If you’re in the early stages of your career, we wouldn’t recommend it more. Just read this interns account of life at a startup. Or this one about doing an internship at a Venture Builder.
But remember, startups are by no means only for newbies to cut their teeth. On the contrary, they are a hotbed for some of the world’s most experienced and talented professionals. Whether you are a software developer, UX specialist, marketer or business development wizard, a startup can be a perfect place to utilize and enhance your skills; and further your career.
The advantages of startup life
Before we get into the details of why you should work at a startup in Athens, let’s have a look at startup life in general. You can work at a startup, or at a startup accelerator or incubator; or a Venture Builder. We have plenty of positive examples of both in our section about startup life; featuring Q&A’s of Starttech team members and those of our portfolio companies.
A good point to emphasize here is the fact that at a startup, there are ample opportunities to learn and grow. If I had to sum up the benefits briefly, I would say that they are the following:
A completely different approach and way of thinking.
It’s highly likely that in your current or previous jobs, a lot of what you do was about following procedures and structures for what’s been done before. This standard way of doing things that many large corporations follow goes out the window at a startup. Typically at a startup, you are building everything from the ground up. And you have to work in a flexible and agile way. This, in itself, is both exciting and challenging. And presents a great chance to learn skills or build on ones you thought you never had. Of course not all startups are the same (in terms of stability, stable growth, stage of growth, business model). So the experiences you can have can vary from startup to startup.
Typically, at most small to medium-sized startups, you will take part in what makes up the fabric of the company. Especially if you are involved from an early stage. We’re talking from strategic commercial decisions to operations, hiring and culture. Yes, you will play a role in molding all of those things. In short, you will have a say, or at least access, to the kinds of things that are usually reserved for the C-suite boardroom. In a way, your journey with a startup is akin to an on-the-job MBA.
Level-up your skillset.
Your experience and skills can benefit a great deal from getting involved in a startup. Make no mistake, you have to be ready to sink or swim. This should intimidate you. And it may even turn you off. But if you can embrace it, it can be an exceptional way to quickly gain a number of valuable skills and experiences for your resume. Wearing a number of different hats will become part of your daily routine. Job descriptions tend to be typically fluid. So don’t expect the kind of specialized document describing all of your duties and areas of responsibility. Yes, a few team members will have their specialized areas. But you will have to become a very good ‘generalist’ or ‘t-shaped’ professional if you aim to flourish. So, even if the startup does not prove to be a success, you will still come away with an impressive CV.
Finally, we got to the juicy part. Why Athens? Why not, is my response. Apart from the cultural richness, the cuisine, the climate and the seductive lifestyle that comes with living in the cradle of western civilization, there are a whole host of reasons why the Greek capital is fast-becoming a sought-after working destination; especially among startuppers.
In late 2018, Athens was named the European Capital of Innovation, with a prize of €1 million; a sign of how the city appears continuously to be winning its battle against the odds. Athens is now arguably the most attractive startup hub in the East Mediterranean. This is why our Venture Building Program is set-up here, and the driving force behind our #ScaleUpGreece movement.
The Athenian entrepreneurial ecosystem is blossoming. Greek startups are becoming popular abroad. The steady stream of high profile exits and purchases of Greek startups by larger corporations has been gathering pace in recent years. Investors from all over the globe are starting to sniff around Greece’s fair city, and rightly so. Opportunities are there for those bold enough and talented enough.
Come and join us
If you’re seriously thinking about your next career move and have a startup in mind, come and talk to us. You can browse of current job listings to see if there’s anything that matches your profile and needs.
What can Starttech offer you? A working environment that encourages open communication between the teams and their members. A team-based culture that embraces openness and transparency. And last but not least, we question conventional wisdom and have a strong preference on people that think out-of-the-box. Oh yes, and I almost forget. We’re based in Athens.
If all of that sounds interesting then reach out to us today.