Open Coffee Athens XXVI – the minutes

Before the OpenCoffee begins

SocialWhale is a Twitter interface/client which started 8 months ago intending to cover the needs of more advanced users who consider Twitter to be somewhat lacking in features. It initially combined existing services built on top of Twitter into a single service and later tried to evolve into a ‘real-time social media client’. SocialWhale also intends to aggregate the use of five main social networks (while more are to be added later).

It’s important to note that SocialWhale has not gotten any marketing promotion as such – it has become known via world of mouth and the Greek social media and remains still closed as a service – but out of those who have access (~500 people) approximately 10% visit the site every day which may be not so bad for a team of 4 full-time developers, plus some part-time designers.

According to SocialWhale it’s too early to start talking about business plans but they aim to generate profit by offering premium services for social media professionals and in the future an API (which is operational even now albeit without documentation – please contact the team to experiment with it). An investment has already been made, at 60% of the planned development. When 100% of the development is accomplished they will start implementing their monetisation models. In addition to this, a desktop client and an iPhone app are coming up too in the next couple of months.

Invitations may still be available here.

viva is the innovative part of the 45-people strong company Realize. It started back in 2005 with the successful free-internet service enhanced with offering SMS and songs. 801 Phone followed in 2006 which was also a success (used by over 350000 households in Greece) – it was essentially an initial version of a VoIP package. Following these packages the infrastructure used for these 2 services had to be used in something new when they became commodity – enter vivanumbers. The basic offering consists of a Greek unique number that can receive calls via your mobile, your office number and your home or a combination of them as well as handle faxes. It is all configurable online and an account can be started entirely on the web while the number from an existing provider can be carried over too.

The guys behind viva managed to keep a broad target group for their service – essentially addressing the entire internet user base – by practically limiting pricing packages to the phrase “1 euro per month” and as such vivanumbers relies heavily in a micropayments system. According to it, user money is collected in a virtual wallet from a bank transfer, a credit card, paypal or a ‘dropcharge’ phonecall which can then be spent in a number of simple services they offer (fax2mail, VoIP, music, sms, etc). Perhaps the most innovative aspect of their infrastructure is that more of these virtual currency points are offered to users who introduce their friends to the service. It is using this method that they have soft launched their product with blogs, forums, social media and an AdWords campaign. Interestingly, this billing/micropayments functionality will soon be offered to third parties too.


Mindworks started as an advertising company back in 2003 with a few thousand euros of starting capital. In 2005 they decided to focus in search marketing – cutting about 90% of their income which up until then also involved website building, print layout etc. Really early they started blogging and that helped them get known in the market and in essence ‘train’ it and create their niche. At the end of 2006, they managed having a Google-qualified individual among their ranks while in mid-2008 they become a Google qualified company with – among others – a 100K budget in 3 months. Then came the Silver Effie Award in a very difficult to win competition and soon after that ATCom buyed them. Mindworks is currently offering SEO, Paid Search Marketing, Usability Studies and Web Analytics. The lessons they learned can be summarised in the following list:

  1. Build a team you can trust
  2. Do not underestimate marketing
  3. Make friends (e.g. via blogging) – even with competitors
  4. Mind the cashflow gap
  5. Make the right deal when getting funded – it’s not about the money (e.g. how well you can communicate with the buyers, customer exchange, etc)
  6. Work-life balance


  1. Indeed, great description on what appears to have been a great Open Coffee meeting with a lot of nice people.

    I am so sorry I could not make it :( Next time! :)

  2. I don’t know if it’s just me or if everybody else encountering issues with your blog.
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