OpenCoffee Athens XIX – the minutes


Last Tuesday the 19th iteration of OpenCoffee took place in yet another venue – we believe we are converging to our natural habitat though. Lots of networking between familiar and new faces and in between our select speakers.

megaventory.com is an online service which handles inventory. It’s “a web tool where anyone being a business or an individual can manage and control the availability of an entity being a product or a service and make this information available to others” – gotta love the concise mission statement. The idea is a side project of the previous company the founder, Kostis Mamassis, was a member of: there, they wanted to keep track and minimise their stock in order to cut costs. Megaventory is basically a platform that can handle multiple users and storage points set to capitalise on the notion that inventory keeping is supposedly the next big thing in web and the fact that an inventory can take many shapes and appear in many markets – from your fridge stock to the availability of hotel services.

In the initial stages input in megaventory.com was done using the mothership company’s customers and was manual (if it did happen at all) and the initial feedback very negative. But they pressed on – they being a freelance vb.net/sql server developer plus the founder for all the rest. And so far they have 50 paid visits (coming from AdWords) plus 50 non-paid per day. All their ‘customers’ are in their free version with premium and unlimited paid versions available in which the number of items, users and inventory points increases.

They aim for the approx. 8M customers in the USA, EU and CAN market where the hard-to-believe competition is a single other startup. That does not include of course large packages and companies offering offline elaborate solutions (we’re talking simplified versions of ERP and CRM here basically). megaventory.com aims for the small customers and companies – e.g. one-man companies and startups will find it useful as they can’t afford technically and cost-wise current ERP solutions.

Ioannis Methodios, the VP of KEMEL (Greek Volunteer Managers) started off his speech with a short bio covering his early days as a consultant. ΚΕΜΕL is an organisation with former CEOs of major Greek companies as members who are interested in giving back some of their wisdom and experience to the entrepreneurial community. In particular, they are offering free business, marketing, legal, banking consulting as possible aids for any startup- so if any OpenCoffee people are hesitant about taking the step they now have one more way of coping and asking for help. KEMEL is considering offering their time in the shape of support via telephone, email or even workshops. It’s a 100% free effort and will quite possibly provide a means to access the network of professionals in KEMEL’s disposal. So, if anyone is interested for more information either stay tuned for more information, contact us to bring you in touch or – why not? – contact them straight away.

Sun, our sponsors for the night came on next with their important announcement: Sun Startup Essentials is launching in Greece! This means Sun is offering a wide range of services and products free or at a very reduced price for small companies – read startups in our case. It’s really fortunate – and we’re really interested to see what will come out of the move – for the large players in the market to do their bit to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship. So what does Sun offer? The list is long: Sun hardware and software (for Solaris, Linux, Windows), free tools, community support, free help with technical support – a full portfolio of services, software and platforms. The offered servers are starting at 750$ and there’s 70% off at storage, while hosting goes at 40$/month. The only requirements to be eligible is to have a company (a verified online presence and a legal entity) that has been around for less than 6 years and has a maximum of 150 employees – that probably covers most of the OpenCoffee community. Sun claims it’s a 5-minute process to sign up and 2-5 working days for them to clear the application formalities – you will then be one of the 6000 ventures that have already joined the scheme worldwide. Sun closed off by also announcing the opensource conference they organise for the 11th March.

Speaking of events we were happy to have Konstantina Zoehrer with us who announced the much-awaited second iteration of Mediacamp: it’s coming up 14-15 march!

Also, one of the most important figures in the internet, Tim Berners-Lee will be coming to Greece for the 3-day academic Webscience conference at Foundation of the Hellenic World (FHW) which will cover various internet-related subjects adopting the usual method of presentations, papers and posters. OpenCoffee people can take the option of registering for the Tim Berners-Lee talk at 25 euros.

The story of emarket.gr (formerly fleamarket.gr) is an interesting one as it goes back to 2000 when it was founded and it’s about the best localised e-bay option Greece has. It’s showing a rapid growth as Greeks after all start to feel more confident with online purchases – it reached an impressive 130K+ members and an impressive equal amount of unique visits. They employ 11 staff and handle 5-7K transactions a month resulting from 3.5M pageviews/month and an average time spent on the site of 15minutes. Their business model is currently based on the free submissions it receives and on the 2% commission it receives from sales of 100 euros/month gross. In addition to this revenue stream they have affiliations with eshop.gr, banks and other entities while of course they also display ad banners. Given that everything was free up to 2006 and some revenue streams are still only now coming online, emarket.gr’s course is indicative of the uphill struggle Greek startups had to give to succeed – perhaps it’s easier nowadays though. It’s also important to note that the website was developed on own funds during the first 5 rough years when the internet penetration was small and the potential customers few – while at the same time 2 offers for acquisition were turned down. Their goals for 2009 is to expand their market, visitors and members while continuing to offer excellent customer service (2 1/2 full-time people are currently on it). Prospects to cooperate with ebay or expand in other nearby markets are probably slim due to their current small-ish size.


Contrary to emarket.gr, iSteam is the iPhone app that reached 1M people in one week in the App Store and has become the first app in 40 countries at some point. When they turned their free app to a paid one, Kostas Eleftheriou, Vasilis Samolis and Vasilis Rappos (24, 22 and 22 respectively) grossed 60K sales – not bad for something that had only started in October 2008. As the App Store is already overwhelmed by good things and basically games – developed even by large companies, it’s hard to get awareness for an app, so they wanted something viral. iSteam was the result of two weeks of brainstorming and 150 rejected ideas: they had to minimise the required workhours and maximise the viral effect – and of course to get by the Apple screening. It had to be simple, require one hand to be used and to be possible to play with non-continuously. Once conceived it took them 7 days to make and as soon as it was out the competition was quickly an issue so they they decided to go free to fight it. 600K downloads later they went paid for 1$ – and went to no 27 in the world-wide list of paid apps. That meant 50K revenue in less than a month for 3 people – not bad for a project that requires no infrastructure (Apple handles it), no previous experience with that technology and “just” lots of work after submitting the app to keep the it popular and mentioned in the various points of interest online. The iSteam team plan to start developing other ideas and iPhone apps by keeping it small and simple – we wish them all the best although something tells me that as the market matures it’ll be much harder to gain visibility among the many apps that will be submitted.

That’s all for now – see you all next month…