Ever tried traveling from one Greek island another? Unfortunately it hasn’t always been easy – until now. Meet the Greek start-up that’s changing it all.
An innovative Greek start-up
With nearly 300 inhabited islands to visit, Greece is an island vacation dream. However, have you ever tried to get from one island to another? Navigating from one island to the next isn’t always convenient – until now. Let’s meet an innovative Greek start-up that’s changing the face of Greek island travel.
Greek start-up: Sea Around
Greece is home to 5,000 beautiful islands. Of those, nearly 300 of them are inhabited but most of them lack regular ferry schedules, making them hard to get to. That’s why Achilleas Voutsinis and Thalis Spiliadis created Sea Around, to make traveling the Greek seas easier and faster. Sea Around aims to make Greek island travel simple — and not just for the popular islands. The founders of this Greek start-up described their venture.
“We think of Sea Around as a team that builds roads in the sea.”
Achilleas spoke about the challenges of traveling from island to island.
“In our personal experiences, we faced poor connectivity between the islands, inconvenient fixed time schedules, as well as limited area coverage that included only more commercially appealing islands like Mykonos and Santorini.”
As a result, the Sea Around team created a flexible and real-time service of customized transfers or tours to help travelers reach any Greek island they want. The Sea Around digital platform shows which captains and boat rental companies are offering daily skippered rides to various destinations in Greece.
So how does it work?
There’s an app for that!
Here’s how it works. A traveler who wants to travel to an island can simply download the app. The app then displays a list of all available boats near the desired location. The traveler has access to boat photos and can read up on information about the types of boats available. From that data, a person can choose which boat to rent. The traveler can also send a message to the captain with questions about travel or send requests about where to go.
Through Sea Around, with a few more taps on a smart phone, travelers can also purchase transfers or tours. Achilleas explained that while travelers enjoy the flexibility to move around the Greek seas, the app is a win-win for boat owners too.
“We also offer owners of vessels, the captains, a chance to gain more work. Through our app, supply meets demand in a more direct way.”
The Sea Around Team. IMAGE: SEA AROUND
Behind the Sea Around platform
The Sea Around founders merged their backgrounds to fill a gap in the tourism marketplace in Greece. Achilleas, who graduated from the University of Oxford’s Department of Philosophy and Modern Literature and worked in the tourism industry, now manages Sea Around’s marketing. Thales, a graduate of the Business Administration department of Athens University of Economics, worked in London in the tech industry before he moved back to Greece to eventually pair up with Achilleas to develop the app.
Their collaboration officially began in 2016 when they started creating an innovative platform which includes a location algorithm. It could consider the location and availability of each captain in the Sea Around network, as well as show boats and rides in real time, without affecting a captain’s existing schedule.
However, there were challenges beyond their control. The Athens-based company was affected in negative ways by the economic crisis in Greece. Achilleas revealed that they faced a challenging market with decreasing buying power.
On the bright side, he said the crisis has offered some benefits, including the ability to find good and affordable talent. As a result, he hired the right team capable of making this vision a reality.
Sea Around the future
So far, Achilleas said the reception to Sea Around has been positive.
“Clients are finding us through our website and social media which helps us gain better insight into the market. The first bookings really helped us feel like it was happening.”
Moving forward, he said he envisions that Sea Around will have all of Greece covered. Then, he says the platform will cover other areas of the Mediterranean including the Turkish, Italian, and Croatian markets.
This Greek start-up isn’t stopping there. They’re also focusing on interesting mapping projects.
“We are in the process of mapping the most beautiful places that cannot be found by name on Google Maps as well as gathering data about where people are looking to visit Greece and when they want to visit.”
In the meantime, Achilleas stated that the team will continue to move forward with growing the Sea Around network.
“We’re proud that through our app travelers can easily go anywhere they want by sea and they can do that with just few taps on a phone.”
Read more in the Greek Start-up series with Marissa Tejada: