Interview with Ms. Athina Pitta, Glossopolis: the European Commission Portal for Small Businesses success story business of May 2016.
1. Tell us about you, Athina? What is your background?
I am the founder of Glossopolis, a travel platform that rewards tourists with discounts on local businesses if they order or buy in Greek. I hold an MBA from the Athens University of Economics and Business, a Master in International Law from Faculty of Law Clermont-Ferrand 1, in France and a Bachelor degree in International Relations from the University of the Aegean in Greece. I also speak Greek, English, French and Turkish and I am beginner in Arabic and Spanish. My passion for languages, International Relations and Business was the reason for creating my own business so as to be able to work on things I love 24/7.
2. Three years ago you did a traineeship at the EfVET center office in Brussels- did you enjoy it? What did you like the most about EfVET?
It was an excellent experience to be working in the heart of Europe with some of the best professionals in the European market. I’ve met wonderful people from different backgrounds and I was able to be familiarized with the Brussels vivid business culture, create a professional network abroad and get to know foreign markets. Given that EfVET is a dynamic organization, I was able to learn from the best and expand my business know-how to a higher standard.
3. How did you start your own business in Athens? How did you come up with the idea?
After having completed the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs Program, I participated in Orange Grove, the incubator supported by the Dutch Embassy in Athens where I received high quality assistance in maturing the idea, conducted market research and set the foundations towards building a business. Initially, the idea was to create an online platform for foreign languages, however, having worked intensively in the business model, we understood well that innovation should have a crucial part on our business.
4. What is Glossopolis all about?
Glossopolis www.glossopolis.com is a travel platform that rewards travelers with discounts on local businesses when they order or buy in Greek. Travelers visit local businesses recommended by Glossopolis such as taxis, bars, restaurants, etc. and if they order or buy in Greek as they have learned through the platform, they get a discount as a reward for their effort.
In this way, not only do they have a unique local feel by communicating with locals but they also save money during their stay in the country while they support local businesses. On the other hand, local businesses have access to the dynamic target group of tourists, a target group that they had never accessed before.
Glossopolis cooperates with local businesses and tour operators/travel agencies abroad and has visitors from 118 countries from all over the world.
5. Do you have any tips/recommendations for new entrepreneurs who want to open/create a successful startup?
Entrepreneurship is a game where no one knows exactly its rules so the more prepared you get, the better outcomes you are going to receive. For this reason, I would place education first in the priorities of an entrepreneur. Learning about business and all its operations at an extended level should be the first step before someone starts. For this reason, I had the pleasure of realizing an MBA in the best Business University of Greece, Athens University of Economics and Business so as to acquire the academic knowledge for running a business from the best. I consider this as one of the most wise business decisions I have ever made since I got the theoretical know-how from the best professors in the market.
Network has its own place on business development so Orange Grove incubator gave me the right contacts for developing my business and be up to date to market trends. As a dynamic part of a vivid community, I had the pleasure to interact with likeminded entrepreneurs with whom we exchanged ideas in a very meaningful way while there was continuous exposure to new business models and technological advances.
In a broader perspective, being an entrepreneur is a marathon, where you have to keep your power till the end, have a good deal of focus and believe in what you do. Cooperating with the best and exposing yourself to information while having close ties with your customers are equally placed on the number one priorities of an entrepreneur.
6.Glossopolis was the success story of European Commission Portal for Small Businesses for May 2016. Tell us more about this distinction?
It is a great honor for us to see our business featured in European Portal for Small Businesses as a success story in a European level. We feel our work has been fruitful and this gives us power to continue our path.
7. Up to now you’ve had many interviews in international news and magazines and above all a TEDxNTUA presentation. Tell us more about it?
Having been featured in international media such as BBC, Financial Times, Al Jazeera, etc gave us the credibility needed for building partnerships of great strategic advantage. TEDxNTUA presentation was something different, though. It was a very inspiring moment for us. It was the first time we were in public and we didn’t have to talk about our business but to talk about this we love and inspire young people. It was a moment where we shared our passion with the audience and the reason why we are in Greece and try to improve this country.
8. Do you believe young people should start their own business in turbulent times?
In turbulent times playing it safe is also a risk itself. However, risking without planning is the key for disaster. I would say that the first step is knowing yourself and if you really want to be an entrepreneur and follow this path and demanding but rewarding lifestyle. The second is thorough research and knowledge. As said before, you have to be prepared in the best way in order to tackle difficulties that may occur. Knowledge gives you action and confidence to act in the arena of entrepreneurship. Then the right network helps you in terms of product and business development.
9. Having had an entrepreneurial experience for the past 4 years what are the greatest lessons you have learned?
Nothing is as hard or unachievable as it may seem. We have to do the first step and enjoy the journey.
(video and pictures) -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrL1SJdiZ9w