Mentor was created in late 2014, focusing on cultural/educational tourism, the management of cultural organisations, as well as the strategic tourism development planning of areas with strong cultural character. Our voluntary engagement with non-profit groups, aiming at the enhancement and promotion of the Archaeological Site of Eleusis, Greece, enabled us to come into contact with various universities and organisations abroad, which had a particular interest in its archaeological site. The gap in the demand for cultural and educational services by those foreign institutions led us to realise the great opportunity of turning our hobby into a profession and our beliefs into action. Our first office was in Eleusis (my hometown) and this is when and where the scene was set for the rest of our journey.
A powerful inspiration behind the creation of Mentor was Homer’s classic epic poem, The Odyssey and in particular, Mentor himself; the closest friend and counsellor of Odysseus, who serves as teacher and overseer of Odysseus’ son, Telemachus. So, passionate about connecting ancient Greece’s culture and philosophy to today, οur bold mission was to enhance the appreciation and comprehension of the so-called birthplace of Western Civilisation in an interactive and stimulating way by blending thematic routes with thought-provoking educational workshops and seminars on ancient Greece led by our “Mentors”.
Following a particularly demanding four-phased evaluation procedure among almost 2,000 submitted applications, we have been distinguished on June 21st, 2016 as one of the 30 most innovative Greek start-ups for 2016-2017, through the innovation and youth entrepreneurship contest egg – enter grow go, a partnership between Eurobank and Corallia Clusters Initiative. Without a second thought we, both me and Yannis Pappas, dedicated ourselves to the purpose for which we entered the contest: conserve and enhance the Greek heritage through organising thematic educational routes, blended with thought-provoking seminars for students from around the world, manage cultural organisations and, draft the strategic tourism development of areas with strong cultural character.
One of the moments that determined our company’s course was meeting and cooperating with our mentor provided by the egg programme, Ms Vicky Evangeliou; a leading communication & marketing expert. Not only did she help us in thoroughly organising and setting up our company, but she has also been -and still is- a highly trusted consultant and friend.
At the same time, along with the organisation of educational tourism programmes, Mentor was responsible for the marketing and communication strategy of the bid of Eleusis for European Capital of Culture in 2021. Along with a very small, but mighty bidding team, we worked around the clock for over a year and a half on making one of Europe’s most environmentally-deprived areas the European Capital of Culture for 2021. We feel enormously lucky to be part of this life-changing adventure, as it proves that hard work, vision and perseverance can indeed make the impossible possible: that is Eleusis 2021 European Capital of Culture! (November 11th, 2016)
We keep on working hard and, a bit later, we rank first at the egg’s key performance indicators (KPIs) for November 2016. As a reward (offered by The Hellenic Initiative and Eurobank), we travelled -along with the other first nine companies- to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston for a 15-day educational programme, aimed at fostering extroversion, business networking and promotion in foreign markets. We attended seminars and lectures from the world’s top scientists. We were greeted at the Consulate General of Greece in Boston, met the local Greek community, visited incubators, businesses and universities, we were introduced to the most advanced technologies used in research centres such as the MIT Media Lab, and were given the opportunity to get to know Greek academics living and working in Boston. Nothing is the same after this trip. It is a journey that every young entrepreneur has to make, to see the big picture; a sea of opportunities, good practices and people that enable you to comprehend the concept of entrepreneurship on an international level.
On January 2017, we excelled at the egg’s KPIs and thus, we got awarded by Eurobank for the progress made in developing our business concept. In the meanwhile, like-minded people who share the same interests and goals as us, such as Emma and Thomais, joined our company, while practitioners from Greece and abroad, such as Olga, Eleanna, Flavia, Maria, Dimitris and Andreas have also worked hard in contributing to Mentor’s cause.
So far, we have been honoured with interviews and articles in national and local media, like the ones made by protothema.gr, επιχειρώ and New Money, as well as with our first promo video provided by the egg programme, which helped us communicate our mission and attract partners.
During last months we had the opportunity to meet significant and influential people who visited the premises of the egg programme, like the American and Israeli Ambassadors to Greece, the Greek Minister of Economy and Development, as well as some of the world’s leading entrepreneurs like the President and CEO of Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited, Mr Prem Watsa and, the Co-founder of GuesttoGuest, Mr Charles-Edouard Girard. From these encounters, we gained valuable insights and advice to apply to Mentor and help us progress.
The end of the 4th cycle of the egg programme is marked by two major events for Mentor. The first one is the fact that, according to the programme’s annual KPIs, we ranked first, scoring 9.9, and thus, we are rewarded by remaining for the second year at our ‘second home’, the egg’s premises, as alumni-residents. Also, we will have the responsibility of mentoring six new companies of the 5th cycle. The second one is the exclusive partnership agreement we signed with the Hellenic American University and the Hellenic American College. Study abroad and summer school programmes consisting of visits to sites of sublime archaeological, architectural, historical and aesthetic value, specialised seminars and workshops by highly-qualified professors and artists will soon be available for international students.
Following a truly fascinating year, we strive to make the change we are dreaming of through persistence. We are proud that our team is expanding and despite some unfortunate circumstances in Greece, we will keep on trying our best to grow and thrive in our beloved country.
The best is yet to come; stay tuned!
Co-founder & CEO