George Tziralis

Partner, Marathon VC

Ten years ago, I was trying to turn my PhD research into a startup and wondered if there were other like-minded people in my home country.

I decided to look for them by staging a small event for entrepreneurs. A dozen founders showed up. It became a monthly thing. Over time it attracted dozens and then hundreds, an entrepreneurial community was born.

We had the numbers but no matter how hard we worked, how timely our ideas were, they failed. Mine failed as well, I know how it feels.

I took a step back and tried to work out why. The reasons that emerged were twofold: a profound lack of capital and relevant advice.

True founders build; they start from a deep belief, focus on what they have and try to make the best out of it.

My intuition told me that my community peers could do great things. There were makers, builders, tech enthusiasts. It was my deeply-held belief that they could build successful companies. I had to do whatever it took to make this happen.

In my first fund, we proved that a $10m technology company could be built in Greece. In my second, we raised that bar to $100m and it will be cleared. For the third fund we will aim higher again.

My journey feels too short to have been told this many times that something “cannot be done.”

There are many good reasons for this to be the case. “It has never happened here before” is not one of them.

I like being early and starting small. You help things take shape.

I also like working with people who want things as much as I do. You can usually tell straightaway if the desire is there. If it is, it will sustain you.

Venture is beautiful. Amid rejections and failures, you get to watch the best perform. Someone’s life’s work unfolds in front of you, getting them a bit further makes the journey worth it.

We live in exciting times, unconfined by the accident of where we were born. A random guy from an unlikely place can make an impact by enabling his peers to pursue their dreams.