The EBAN Annual Congress: The young yet fast-growing Greek Startup Scene

The EBAN Annual Congress is one of the few possibilities in a year to meet several angel networks across the globe at one single event. That’s why part of the FiBAN team traveled to Thessaloniki, Greece to discover the Greek startup ecosystem to share learnings with other angel networks and startup ecosystem members at the EBAN Annual Congress. 

This year the EBAN Annual Congress was arranged in cooperation with Enterprise Greece and The Hellenic Business Angels which did a great job facilitating an interesting and educating program, not to forget the incredible Greek hospitality that all congress visitors were able to experience.

What came up in conversations was the need to establish stronger cooperation between different stakeholders, how to ensure that startups are being born and supported, and how to evolve as an angel investor network. FiBAN, despite being somewhat of a North star for other angel networks, has also a lot to learn from other angel networks – how to remain agile and curious, and how to evolve even further?

Different angel networks and startup stakeholders may operate in slightly different environments, but all our networks deal with similar struggles: where to find capital when a startup reaches a certain point, or how to make all the startup ecosystem puzzle pieces fit together so that everybody wins? 

Gender equality was one of the important themes in the discussions brought up by the EBAN president Janne Jormalainen, as EBAN recently announced their gender equality manifesto. This remains to be a topic of importance for all investor networks, as the majority of investors, as well as founders, are still men.

What also stood out from the keynotes of the Hellenic Business Angels, Elevate Greece, and Enterprise Greece, the ecosystem has developed fast and has become more organized during and after the pandemic. Elevate Greece was founded during the pandemic when Greece’s main source of income, tourism, suffered a setback.

Recently, the collaboration between different municipal and governmental organs has become tighter and more processes have been found that seem to work. The ecosystem is still finding the best procedures to support the tech industry companies, and as in every startup ecosystem, the evolution never stops.

Greek Startup Ecosystem in Numbers

  • In total, Greek startups attracted over 310 million euros in 2022.
  • According to Enterprise Greece, the number of foreign investments in Greece exceeded 7,2 billion in 2022.
  • It is estimated that Greek startups employ nearly 6000 people.
  • The funding from angel investors in Greece consists of up to 10% of total investments made in startups in 2022. 
  • In 2022, 19 Greek startups were acquired, and Greece made its first unicorn, VivaWallet

Source: Enterprise Greece, 2023.

The EBAN Annual Congress is truly valuable for building your international networks with other angel investors as well as other startup ecosystem stakeholders, and rarely one gets such a deep dive into another startup ecosystem. That’s why you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit the EBAN Annual Congress next year as it’s hosted by EstBAN in Tallinn. This year FiBAN and EBAN also co-organize the Summer Kick-off event!

International collaboration was highlighted also in Latitude59

The FiBAN delegation also traveled to Latitude59 to strengthen international cooperation and meet new startups. Some of the highlights of Latitude59 for FiBAN included the 4NGELS rooftop lunch and training focusing on deepening insights into how to invest in Estonia.

While there was a large Finnish representation in Tallinn among both investors and startups, Estonian startups are present in the FiBAN deal flow as well. Though FiBAN’s Pitch Finland presents mostly Finnish startups, as many as 13% of selected startups that pitched were from Estonia. 

Good quality startups exist all over, but challenges in investing cross-borders arise with due diligence, and it may be hard to lead a syndicate without knowing local regulations or markets. Cross-border investing still isn’t as simple as one may think, but it’s certainly possible and can be an exciting learning opportunity.

Through international cross-border programs like the 4NGELS, networks are expanded through mutual learning and building trust with other similar organizations, which lowers the bar for cross-border investments. Perhaps your next cross-border investment can happen through 4NGELS?

4NGELS is an EU-funded project that brings together four business angel networks from Estonia, Finland, Slovenia, and Poland. The aim of the 4NGELS initiative is to make it easier for business angels to make investments with a cross-border dimension. The partners of 4NGELS are Estonian Business Angels Network (EstBAN), Finnish Business Angels Network (FiBAN), Business Angels of Slovenia, and COBIN Angels. The program is coordinated by CIVITTA.

FiBAN is also a part of another international program, BAKE, which is a European Union-funded transnational program for improving investor and founder communications together with partners like Erasmus+, Fundación Equipo Humano (FEH), BIGBAN Inversores Privados (BIGBAN), Institute of Entrepreneurship Development (IED), Mediterranean Management Centre (MMC), EBAN and, MATERAHUB and Escuela Profesional Xavier (EPX). 

BAKE stands for Business Angel Knowledge for Entrepreneurs, and the program’s goal is to increase understanding between business angels and entrepreneurs. This Spring, the BAKE project participants have been interviewing both investors and founders about their relationship with one another, and the project participants are now putting together all the gathered learnings from these interviews.
If you wish to stay up-to-date about the BAKE project and 4NGELS, read more in our International Projects section and stay tuned for more information by signing up to FiBAN’s Monthly Newsletter.