Konstantina Zoehrer: Rebuilding Greece's Economy through STARTup Live Athens
Konstantina Zoehrer is a social entrepreneur and the Head Organizer for "STARTup Live Athens".
Her mission is to rebuild her country's economy by promoting Greece to the European entrepreneurial system and shedding light on the vibrant Greek startup scene.
In 2010 I met Konstantina through a wonderful network called Sandbox that includes roughly 600 young leaders in 48 different countries. It's a network that aims to incubate individuals in an environment where they can build meaningful relationships with like-minded peers, learn from senior leaders and gain access to opportunities that will help them grow.
Konstantina is an individual who really defines what Sandbox stands for and always connects people by facilitating great discussions in online forums and organized meetings across Europe.
Last month I was lucky enough to reconnect with her in Vienna. Several months before, she asked me to speak as a PR/Marketing mentor for STARTup Live Athens. I thought to myself, yeah, of course I would like to participate. I think we all have the ability to become mentors across many different cultures. It's about tapping into our personal knowledge base and sharing our passion or expertise with others around us. There will always be a group of people interested in learning. This week I look forward to joining Konstantina and empowering the local entrepreneurial community in Athens by offering my knowledge on startups and PR strategy.
So here is the little interview we had over a delicious cup of Viennese cappuccino and a glimpse of what's to come this week in Athens.
JE: Why are you here and what have you been doing in the past few weeks?
KZ: So I'm here to meet the organizers and network at STARTup Week Vienna. Startup Week is organized by STARTeurope.
My role is to promote Greece to the European entrepreneurship system, as there is more going on there than just a crisis. There is a chance to rebuild the country.
People have the opportunity to travel and connect with other entrepreneurs and startups, get the knowledge and know-how and take that home to their communities.
JE: Earlier you mentioned wanting to create a blog in Greece. Why? What's your motivation?
KZ: Entrepreneurship blogs in different countries shouldn't be limited to their native language. Opening up to the world through English is the best thing you can do to shed light on new and vibrant companies.
People around the world need to learn more about what's going on in the the Greek startup scene. Great ideas should be exchanged because they can always become a reality.
JE: Tell me a little bit about the profiles of the attending mentors.
KZ: We try to have a focus on entrepreneurship - technology, social, creative, cultural, agricultural and educational. We look at the wider scope of what people need and want. It's very impotent to hear the words from entrepreneurs and not consultants. With STARTup Live Athens, we have mentors with ages ranging from the early 20s to 50s - both women and men from various sectors.
It's great to have a diverse group of people talk about entrepreneurship, with a variety of people comes a variety of discussion, inspiration and insight.
JE: What do you envisage for the future of Greece? Are there other people like you organizing events such as this? Or bringing in interesting individuals to share their knowledge?
KZ: For sure, there are people making it happen. There's Open Coffee - a group startup community trying to connect people to other networks. There are initiatives from the government that help, and there is a venture capital forum too. Prior to this there was a gap - we needed something that bridged getting people together and pitching ideas. STARTup Live Athens is part of a series of organized conferences set up by STARTup Week. It allows individuals to connect, realize their potential and build relationships across Europe.
JE: When you're not busy orchestrating big conferences, what do you do?
KZ: With a focus on social creative entrepreneurship, I am leading Business Development for a co-working space called Loft2work, which is very similar to The Hub. We connect to other networks that are likeminded. I'm very lucky to be in business development. For the last 3 years I have been busy building up a co-working community in Greece with Jelly. There a lot of freelancers who share the same mentality and vision, so it's important to connect them all together. There are people who want to learn from each other. If you have a network and a space, you can combine know-how, expertise, vision and business development.
JE: Is there anything else you want to share with our readers of TNW? Any tips or advice for female entrepreneurs?
KZ: Be very kind to your mentors and build up your relations (and not just in a business sense). Have a vision that focuses on something big, it's not only about making money.
Have a really good network to utilize and remember to give back to the network. Connect to other outside networks, Sandbox is a great example, and really leverage its power.
This is a guest post by Jess Erickson of Berlin-based startup 6Wunderkinder
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