South West Peloponnese was one of the less developed areas in Greece and I was pleasantly surprised to see how guests, international media and opinion leaders embraced our vision and supported us from first day. Now it is probably one of a few regions with such a growth, were new hotels, restaurants and shops continuously open. We feel, that despite of the crisis we are heading towards fulfilling our vision – to establish a new sustainable destination in the Mediterranean.
How many people work there?
Constantakopoulos: At the peak we reach 1100 employees. But tourism is a product that has probably the biggest local effect than any other industrial product. According to the regional Panteion University, for every single person hired in Costa Navarino 0.8 jobs are created in the broader area. So we estimate that 2000 new jobs were created. Our goal is to operate all year long. We started flying in March directly from central Europe and we hope that next year the flights can start in February. I think tourism is definitely one if the most important industries that will help us get over the crisis. We shouldn’t forget: 2013 has been the best year for Greek tourism ever.
Marco Veremis: I am the founder and CEO of Upstream. Upstream is a technology company, producing marketing software for companies who want to use the mobile phone to market to their customers. I was working in London, and my co-founder Alex, who is also Greek, was working in Boston. The reason we set up the business here, when we had the original idea to be one of the first global companies to work on this sector called ‘mobile marketing technology’; this was in 2001 when we started. Basically, the reason we set it up here was because we knew that you had pretty high quality engineering values in Greece.
We have three strong universities, before all Polytechnic in Athens. In Greece parents still potentially even over-invest in their childrens’ education. Not that we have excellent universities, but we do have certain excellent professors. Now, these professors pick the talent and almost always they send this talent off to some of the top universities, especially in the United States and the U.K. and some in Germany as well. You have a lot of Greeks in places like MIT, Stanford and Imperial College and places like that. Most of them study engineering. These guys are super qualified.
We use this kind of talent, which came, of course, at a much lower price than what you would pay in Silicon Valley or in Boston or in London, to set up an original development team. We attacked from day one a global market, because the product we were building was really addressed to companies like Nestle, Coca Cola, Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom—big companies wanting to use mobiles to sell their products to their customers. From the beginning this was 100% export oriented, but the development and the headquarters were here and remain here.