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  • Writer's pictureDimitris Messinis

Challenge winners: What are they up to now?

Updated: Sep 28, 2018

Over the last 2 years, the U.S. Embassy in Athens has kindly supported Mindspace to organize the programs Challenge and Trip. The stories of our program participants have allowed me to realise that what we envisioned at the creation of Mindspace can become a reality.

27-year-old from Volos raises $600k

George Varvarelis, the CEO and co-founder of Augmenta, attended the Mindspace Trip 2017 in Boston and New York.

During this once-in-a-lifetime experience, 16 students had the chance to meet face-to-face with legends of tech and science, like the inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee holding a discussion with Mindspace. Photo by Kamila Sidor.

During Mindspace's visit at MassChallenge, Varvarelis also connected with Alec Karys, who has been advising the team. Augmenta attended the first-ever MassChallenge Texas program, making it to the top 8 of the 84 participants. Having established their presence with offices in both Athens, Greece and Austin, Texas, Augmenta has recently raised $600k in seed funding.

Mindspace, through the US trip, helped me meet with Alec Karys, who now is a very active mentor and in our board of advisors. He has helped us reach investors and develop our team and strategy. George Varvarelis, Augmenta CEO

During the Trip, Varvarelis had also the chance to interact deeply with fellow trip participant Alex Nikolakakis, who later became Augmenta's CTO.

Augmenta provides a device that can be mounted on any tractor and controls agricultural machinery by analyzing real-time video data. Using this system, farmers can increase their wheat production by an average of 12% while also reducing fertilizer use by 15%.

25-year-old from Patras pitches to the Prime Minister

As described on their facebook page, eNVy softworks is "a game development company with insane ideas and an affinity for beer and burgers".

Vassilis Karavassiles joined the Mindspace Challenge semi-finals in Patras, where he secured the 1st place.

Working even harder with his team, Karavassiles came well-prepared to the finals in Athens and managed to win a ticket to the United States.

Since then, his team has worked on more than 35 projects for clients all over the world, and attended 13 international exhibitions, while steadily increasing in employees and revenue.

Karavassiles pitched eNVy to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the Minister for Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Media, Nikos Pappas, had the chance to play their game Rise VR during #USATIF2018.

Vassilis Karavassiles pitching eNVy to Greek Prime Minister Tsipras. Photo by eNVy softworks.

24-year old from Athens has created 14 jobs in a few months

Enaleia is educating unemployed youth in fishing, a sector that is in great demand in Greece, but lacks skilled professionals, mainly due to traditionally being a family business.

Lefteris Arapakis, winner of Challenge 2017, is leading Enaleia, which has recently partnered with highly-esteemed foundations Lemos and A.C. Laskaridis in an effort to further increase their impact.

Arapakis and his team have already educated 30 people and all of them had a job offer.

14 of them are currently working in the fishing sector.

Enaleia has been on national TV 6 times in the last few months.

Arapakis is a great speaker.

However, public speaking is a skill not emphasized in the Greek educational system.

1-on-1 mentoring by seasoned entrepreneurs in Volos. Photo by Dimitris Messinis.

This is why during Challenge, students attend many hours of advanced public speaking workshops.

More than 200 young people have participated in nine 3-day workshops organized in Thessaloniki, Athens, Patras, Ioannina, Volos and Chania, acquiring skills that they will have for life.

It is now the turn of Challenge 2018 winners to visit the U.S.

Augmenta, Enaleia, eNVy softworks and the Challenge 2018 winners Oliveex, Parity and AidPlex have accepted the Challenge and are showing the way for young people with business ideas on how to follow their dreams.

Mindspace has partnered with The People's Trust, to provide 8,000 Euro grants to each winning team, awarding a total of 48,000 Euros.

Challenge Finals 2018. We thank our judging committee: Ms. Kate Marie Byrnes, Ms. Marina Hatsopoulos, Mr. Paul Kidner, Mr. Apostolos Apostolakis, Mr. Michael Printzos, Mr. Vassilis Papakonstantinou. Photo by Mindspace.

Follow Mindspace to virtually join us in our United States trip this November.

If you would like to be more active and help us change the Greek university environment, start a Mindspace Chapter in your city or join our team in Athens and Patras.

On behalf of Mindspace team, I would like to deeply thank Ms. Markella Karagiorga for her tremendous support in every step of running those programs, as well as Ms. Monica Cummings, Counselor for Public Affairs at U.S. Embassy Athens.

I would also like to thank Ms. Jennifer Schueler, Cultural Attaché at U.S. Embassy Athens for inspiring me to write this article and Ms. Alexia Haralambous for kindly editing.



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