Ever wish you had someone to bounce ideas off & get advice? Greek Start-up GrowthMentor connects entrepreneurs to mentors to help grow their businesses.
Greek Start-up series
Over the last several years, we’ve introduced you to many promising Greek Start-ups. The start-up culture in Greece is “on fire”, as they say. The entrepreneurial spirit is flourishing, and we’re pleased to continue to showcase these new companies, and the amazing Greeks behind them. Keep reading to learn about GrowthMentor and Founder Foti Panagio.
Greek-American goes to Greece
GrowthMentor Founder Foti Panagio was born and raised in Florida. He said his parents – his mother is from Sitia, Crete and his father from Gargaliani, Messinia — came to the U.S. to go to college, “and then stayed 30 years”. On a trip to Greece in 2000, his parents realized it was time to return to the motherland. Soon after, the family moved to Athens. Foti attended high school in Greece, at the American Community School, and settled in to his new home. After, he moved to London to study finance at the Cass Business School, the business school of City, University of London. He returned to Greece following his graduation in 2007.
The evolution of GrowthMentor
Back in Greece, Foti secured a position with EuroVPS, a Cyprus-based company that offers virtual private server services for businesses. He currently serves as Marketing Director. It was in this capacity that he came up with the idea for GrowthMentor. He explained.
“I didn’t have other marketers in house, only engineers. They didn’t have the expertise to discuss marketing strategies, etc. I wished I could reach high-level marketers to share ideas, to talk shop. Sometimes you just want to talk to someone and get perspective.”
He had some ideas but wondered just where to begin. Enlisting the assistance of his wife and business partner, Jessica Volbrecht, the concept was refined. They began development in April 2018 and launched in September 2018. The company is currently in beta; however, they’ve already signed up 800 users from all over the globe.
“We’ve done this with no advertisement, only word of mouth and organic social media.”
How it works
Users can join GrowthMentor for free. There are filters to help in selecting mentors based on their expertise, tools they use at expert level, language, etc. Members are matched with a mentor based on that criteria. Currently, there are 86 mentors on the platform, and they’re located all over the world. One may book a call with a mentor for 15, 30, or 60-minute calls on Skype. Of the mentors, 25 offer their services pro bono, “simply because they enjoy helping people”. The others charge anywhere from $3-250/hour, depending on who they are. For example, a session with a well-known mentor from Silicon Valley costs about $250.
“Our mentors are generally experts in marketing and in the start-up scene. Some are experienced in venture capital and fundraising. These experts all sincerely want to help people grow their business. They wish to share their knowledge and be a resource for people to get the help they need, and affordably.”
Foti said that all mentors go through a 4-step vetting process, and less than 10% of those who apply to be mentors are accepted. They apply on the website, and then there is a call with GrowthMentor’s relationship manager to establish if there is a culture fit.
“We look closely at their motivations for doing this. Ethos is a very big component of the vetting process. They can’t be in it just for the money.”
After a practical exam, the final step is an interview with Foti to determine whether a mentor comes on board.
GrowthMentor is propelling its own growth. This week, they’ll be in San Francisco to present and exhibit at the Start Up Grind Global Conference to help raise awareness. They’ve also set their sites on helping Greek start-ups gain traction.
“We don’t have many Greek users right now, but we will be attending many Greek start-up events. We want to help Greek entrepreneurs so they can be more competitive. Ultimately, GrowthMentor comes down to people helping people. Establishing relationships with marketing professionals from all over the world and sharing failures, ideas, and goals is a pretty cool thing in our book. We want everyone to succeed.”