An Athens-based venture capital fund recently celebrated its third consecutive year of investing tens of millions in Greek startup companies.
VentureFriends (VF) launched two funds totaling €70 million — all within that three-year period — and with all investments having ties to Greece.
The fund primarily aims to help Greek tech companies expand globally — including in the United States. The fund has invested in startups that are either based in Greece, have a Greek founder or operate at least partially in Greece.
VF’s portfolio spans 27 startups, eight of which have hit more than €1 million in average annual revenue since VF invested in them.
One such startup is Blueground, a real estate technology company offering upgraded residential properties to long-term renters. In addition to Athens, Istanbul and Dubai, Blueground has properties in New York City, Boston, Chicago, Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Los Angeles and continues to grow its presence in the U.S.
Blueground has more than 1000 properties and 150 people employed in these 6 major US cities, while a big part of the leadership team is now based in the US.
The company recently made headlines for topping $28 million in funding and adding Kevin Ryan, a prominent New York City-based billionaire, to its board of directors.
Another one of VF’s investors is Stasher, a luggage storage startup which launched last year in the US and has since expanded to 15 American cities as it continues to add more. Stasher stores more than 1,500 bags across 100 cities on a daily basis.
VF has also supported WelcomePickups, an Athens-based startup company offering personalized travel services. Welcome Pickups recently received a €3.3 million investment from VF and other investment funds.
The fund’s support of such startups has helped create more than 1,000 jobs — in Greece and abroad.
VentureFriends was founded by Apostolos Apostolakis — co-founder of e-shop.gr, Openfund, e-food, Doctoranytime and a key investor and board member at Beat — and by George Dimopoulos — an angel investor for the last eight years investing in Greek and foreign tech companies such as Beat — an Athens-based transportation application.
Apostolos and George — pictured at the top of this article — are long time friends and co-investors who both attended Columbia Business School in New York City.
“We both went to CBS, however we were a few years apart” Dimopoulos said. “Our experience was formative and opened us up early on to the amazing opportunities the country offers.”
As for Apostolos and George’s continued plans in the US, Apostolakis added that “The US is an amazing and efficient market, so we are very excited when there is a product or country fit for our startups.”
VF portfolio companies such as Blueground already have a strong presence in the US. But the fund expects to see more more similar companies setting up operations in the country over the following months.
According to Apostolakis, several Greek Americans have invested in VF and support the fund — as well as its portfolio companies — through consultations and suggestions.
“Venture Friends is committed to spending time in the US, participating in its Greek tech ecosystem and seeing its portfolio companies grow stateside,” Apostolakis said.
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