Innovating Out of Capital Controls: California Entrepreneurs Come up with Solutions to Help Stranded Greek Companies


Thousands of Greeks were left without access to popular international services like Paypal, Apple’s iCloud and iTunes services and Amazon when the government of Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras announced capital controls, limiting not only cash withdrawals from bank accounts, but also blocking any money leaving Greece to foreign accounts.

Since June 29, transfers of money out of Greek bank accounts has been blocked.

This means that any Greek company that relies on foreign-based data services, therefore, is likely to find itself unable to make the payments abroad that keep those services running.

Greek start-up Weather ex Machina, a tech startup that aggregates different weather reports across the web, has had to delay the launch of one of its products, according to a story in Fast Company.

Credit card payments and bank transfers outside of Greece are essentially blocked, forcing some Greek businesses to ask cloud vendors to delay charging their cards and keep their accounts active until the controls are lifted.

“If they’re doing business in Greece and generate revenues only in the country, it’s really tough to overcome these barriers,” wrote Nick Drandakis, the CEO and founder of Taxibeat, an Athens-based cab-hailing app startup.

Drandakis says his company was able to make payments from a U.K. bank account, but that option is not available to companies without operations outside of Greece.

“Other fellow entrepreneurs in the country are facing big hurdles in paying their costs,” he wrote.

In order to help stranded Greek startups, Panos Papadopolous and Jon Vlachogiannis, co-founders of California-based analytics company BugSense, have created a volunteer platform called ZeroFund that acts as a transaction proxy that receives requests from Greek companies who need to make payments for foreign services, and connects them with individuals who have agreed to help out, like entrepreneur Marc Andreessen (cofounder of Netscape).

Want to help a Greek company get through the crisis? Click the link to see how.


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