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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 12 September 2015
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 12 SEPTEMBER 2015 25 BUSINESS Helping Greece recover, one start-up at a time Here’s one entrepreneur’s contribution to the crisis GREGORY PAPPAS In early June, Marina Hatsopoulos SM '93, an investor and entrepreneur, threw a networking party at her Boston condo. Over sushi and cocktails, 10 young Greek technology entrepreneurs pitched business ideas to 50 Boston-based Greek and Greek American investors and business leaders. "We didn't know each other at all," says Hatsopoulos, "but one thing about the Greeks - we can become best friends overnight." This event began a weeklong series of business-building opportunities, engineered by Hatsopoulos. In addition to networking, the aspiring Greek CEOs would attend an international technology startup boot camp run at MIT. If everything clicked the way Hatsopoulos hoped, the entrepreneurs would leave with their business dreams much closer to reality. As she knew well, entrepreneurs sorely lacked such prospects in Greece, a nation paralysed by financial crisis, rampant unemployment, and political turmoil. In her frequent travels to that country, Hatsopoulos had been struck by the level of "emotional despair" gripping Greek citizens. But a visit last October gave her a different view. In Athens to address the two-yearold MIT Enterprise Forum Greece (MITEF Greece), she was surprised to see "a great interest in entrepreneurship," which she calls "a radical shift in aspiration" for a country with a tradition of publicsector jobs. "I had just visited Israel, and seen how they created a startup economy in 50 years, with rockets firing at them," says Hatsopoulos. "A light bulb went off: If Israel could do it in such a difficult environment, why not Greece?" It also dawned on her that she was "uniquely situated to play a tiny role" in helping spark such an economic turnaround. "One thing Greeks are missing is a connection to the rest of the world," she says. "They are so isolated, and don't have access to everything a networked entrepreneur has, whether that be investors, suppliers, partners, or customers." Who better than Hatsopoulos, with her own entrepreneurial background, networking expertise, MIT roots, and cultural and personal links to Greece, to forge that connection? Hatsopoulos soon found enthusiastic partners on both the Atlantic and Aegean coasts. With the help of the MIT Enterprise Forum global office based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, she began to gather Greeks and Greek Americans in Boston to strategise how to help Greek entrepreneurs. Through the MIT Deshpande Centre for Technological In- Marina Hatsopoulos novation, where she serves as a catalyst, Hatsopoulos learned of a newly reorganised international technology startup boot camp to be held in the spring. She worked with MITEF Greece chairman Vassilis Papakonstantinou SM '97, in the midst of running a startup competition in Athens, to channel his top talent into the Cambridge boot camp. "Creating something from nothing is such a rush for me," says Hatsopoulos, who vividly remembers bootstrapping Z Corporation, her 3-D printing startup. Today, as a private investor and mentor for emerging tech talent, she continues to relish "putting programs in place where there's no roadmap, and things are ill-defined and fuzzy." Improvising approaches for helping Greek entrepreneurs satisfies this need, she suggests. With financial support from the Hellenic Initiative, eight semi-finalists of the MITEF Greece startup competition and two other Greek entre- preneurs arrived for the June boot camp, led by Luis PerezBreva, MIT research scientist and co-director of MIT Innovation Teams. "It was not the usual textbook business teaching," Hatsopoulos says. The entrepreneurs' first assignment during the week at the Stata Centre was to negotiate for something - a discount, a free item - at the MIT Coop. They also refined their business plans and honed their pitches. "They were so excited and couldn't wait to tell you about their ideas," says Hatsopoulos. Plans included a 3-D-printed avatar for precisely targeting radiation therapy in cancer patients; a smart economic news analysis and reporting platform; and a cloud-based software service for processing MRI exams. Mentoring by Hatsopoulos and her Boston-based entrepreneurial network during the boot camp, and in subsequent months, has already begun to pay off for the visiting Greek entrepreneurs. Three participants of the boot camp won top honours at the MITEF Greece startup competition in July, and other groups have found potential investors and collaborators. "For these startups, the costs are so low, and they have access to really good and affordable talent, which is a huge advantage," says Hatsopoulos. "I want to continue to work with MITEF Greece to help them out, and the next step is to make the US network more cohesive and provide these entrepreneurs access to funding." Her ultimate objective, she says, "is to increase employment in Greece". Although the Greek crisis persists, Hatsopoulos remains optimistic, not least because of her experience with this group of emerging entrepreneurs. "They are so totally different in spirit from the country overall," she says. "They have this amazing excitement and energy. They see only the upside." Source: The Pappas Post Bank of Sydney tops Randwick awards Bank of Sydney employees in south Sydney stepped out last week to receive a Business Excellence Award bestowed by Randwick City Council. The awards are designed to recognise outstanding local businesses as voted by the community. Kingsford branch manager Sue Couzios said her team's efforts were focused on making banking easier. "It's about meeting our customers' needs and offering true relationship banking, where every customer is looked after personally by our experienced staff," said Ms Couzios. Julie Elliott, Bank of Syd- ney CEO, added: "The Bank of Sydney's vision is to be Australia's only true relationship bank. This means we really understand the importance of relationships, not just between our customers and us, but also in personal businesses, families and communities." Ms Elliott said that the award was a product of "the strong and trustworthy relationships that our team established with the local community of Randwick though our Kingsford branch since it was first opened in 2005". Winning line-up: Julie Elliott, Bank of Sydney CEO, with colleagues Soteris Hadjikyriacou, George Kostopoulos, Patti Drakos, Sue Couzios, Samia Khaled and Sophie Mastrogiannis. Delphi Bank increases interest rates Delphi Bank has announced it will increase its residential investment home loan interest rate by 0.20 per cent per annum to 5.65 per cent to address recent industry-wide concerns regarding residential investment lending. Delphi Bank CEO George Tacticos said implementing this measure assists in restraining investor mortgage book growth to less than 10 per cent per month as required by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA). "It supports the bank's prudent management by appropriately pricing for risk and it helps maintain an appropriate balance in investor lending. "We believe this approach considers the needs of our customers and communities. When setting interest rates, we are committed to ensuring pricing is reasonable and fair for our stakeholders," said Mr Tacticos. The adjustment is effec- tive 1 September for new business and 1 October for existing residential investment loans. A 0.20 per cent per annum increase will be applied to all new residential investment fixed rates from 1 September. Delphi Bank retains five-star rating Delphi Bank's Midas Account is still the one according to CANSTER, having retained its five-star status three years running. Recently announced by Australia's leading provider of financial research and comparison services, the account was recognised for its competitive product features across the Flexible, Regular and Self-Managed Superannuation Fund categories. CEO George Tacticos was thrilled with the announcement and maintained that "the Midas Account has been a stand-out deposit product for Delphi Bank. This is a wonderful achievement for our customers and our bank". The account was also the recipient of a Gold award for 'Best Savings Account - Bank Category' in Money Magazine’s annual Best of the Best Awards 2015.
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