A sense of urgency - A story by Konstantinos Gkovedaros

A short time ago I started working on the leading accelerator/incubator of Thessaloniki, Greece: OK!Thess. Our startup had the opportunity to be incubated at OK!Thess so I’m aware of the superior work that’s being done to build an ecosystem in a city that lags behind Greece’s biggest tech scene, Athens. As part of my job, i will be sharing some of my experiences from the local ecosystem to whom it may concern. 

Recently, we’ve welcomed Megan at OK!Thess. Megan is a California-based entrepreneur, working in the field of medtech and specializing in AI. We had some interesting chats, about life in California, about e-scooters and how those companies got that big, that fast, about stuff that we are working on, etc. But one conversation that took place the day before her returning back to San Francisco, stuck with me.

-If there’s one thing, and one thing only, that you find is different among SF and Greek entrepreneurs, what is that?

-Well, you guys do think outside of the box, which is crucial. But I think that you lack this sense of urgency. And I’m not sure if this has to do with so many of the teams being fresh out of the university or are still students, but that’s what I saw (the words are not verbatim)

It may be true, after all, this is Thessaloniki (“halara” and stuff). 

This was a bad joke indeed

But why is that? And how do we fix this?

Upon discussing some more, Megan suggested that this has mostly to do with cultural differences, the lack of a safety net for people running their ventures. Megan stressed out that the deadlines she was used to, were really hard, like “if we don’t get there by time X, we are gonners”. She also attributed some of the “moving fast” mentality to the ferocious competition that startups face from other startups. 

When in Silicon Valley, she said, there is definitely a handful of people working on the same thing as you do, so you kinda feel the pressure of getting there first.

Which brings us again to the main question: if this is so, what should founders do?

Should they create a “false sense of emergency” even if there isn’t one? Should they create artificial deadlines and put pressure on the team? Should the do none of the above and just enjoy life?

Happy to hear your thoughts on that one.