Born and raised in Cyprus, Alexis and Emilios left their beloved island to check in among the most prestigious universities all over the world and ultimately pursue careers in administration consulting and funding banking. Their paths led them to Goldman Sachs London, the place they met and ultimately realized each have been contemplating an entrepreneurial subsequent step. On the identical time, the European monetary disaster of the 2010s was starting to unravel they usually began to acknowledge notable alternatives being created by financial turbulence.
After conducting a top-down evaluation of the European market, they turned their consideration to Greece as they realized the native insurance coverage market was ripe for disruption. Totally conscious they have been going in opposition to the grain, Alexis and Emilios made a contrarian determination and moved to Greece to launch Hellas Direct. They assumed Greece would ultimately recuperate from the disaster and picked automobile insurance coverage as a result of it’s a necessary product the place they noticed a big and inefficient native market.
Constructing From Scratch
From day one, Alexis and Emilios aimed to launch an insurance coverage firm that may management the whole worth chain. Additionally they realized proudly owning and controlling their very own know-how can be the important thing to ascertain robust aggressive benefits and determined to have full management of the design to assist their technique and development targets. Moreover, in addition they began with three vital ideas:
- Depart all business preconceptions and sacred cows outdoors. By acknowledging they didn’t know something about automobile insurance coverage, they have been capable of begin with a clean piece of paper and reinvent the native mannequin.
- Create one thing new. They checked out 70 comparable methods from all over the world and realized they wanted their very own distinctive structure to construct one thing actually disruptive.
- Perceive your native market. Being keenly conscious of the peculiarities of the Greek market was key and Hellas Direct would want to construct one thing actually native to distinguish themselves from incumbents.
With these targets and ideas in thoughts, Alexis and Emilios launched the primary InsureTech firm of the area. Seven years later, Hellas Direct serves half 1,000,000 prospects in Greece and Cyprus and is comprised of a vibrant crew of 130 individuals.
Fundraising and Firm Tradition
Mr. Markou and Mr. Pantazis understood they have been making a contrarian play once they moved to Athens to launch an asset-heavy startup in the midst of a historic monetary disaster. However they nonetheless didn’t absolutely understand how onerous seed fundraising was going to be. After recognizing native Greek household workplaces weren’t thinking about Hellas Direct, they devoted their power to draw contrarian buyers and reached out to 2,500 prospects, scheduled 400 conferences in 14 totally different international locations, to lastly safe 11 buyers. Extra importantly, these weren’t simply common buyers, they discovered individuals like Jim O’Neill, former Chief Economist at Goldman Sachs who coined the time period BRICS, and Jon Moulton, one of the vital outstanding enterprise capitalists within the UK. Having this type of assist actually strengthened their place and gave them entry to the fitting instruments from day one.
With a recent spherical of funding within the financial institution, they started to assemble their crew. Alexis and Emilios made the choice to search for good individuals with the initiative to choose issues up. Discovering optimistic people with a drive to vary the established order just isn’t at all times straightforward in Greece, which is why they created a really profitable relocation program for Greek expats seeking to return house (which, based on Alexis, largely consists of exhibiting them stunning photos of Santorini in the summertime). Lastly, in addition they prevented hiring individuals from massive current incumbents as a result of they didn’t wish to danger having crew members with a legacy mentality. They’re satisfied corporations that may dominate the 21st century can be born within the 21st century and for this, they want trendy and progressive cultures.
COVID and the Highway Forward
As quickly as COVID hit their markets, Alexis and Emilios performed a speedy evaluation to guage the influence on their plans and metrics. It shortly grew to become evident COVID was a blessing in disguise for 3 totally different causes:
- Optimistic influence on day-to-day natural enterprise. Much less driving means much less crashing, which interprets into fewer claims. In consequence, they launched a “COVID Low cost” for anybody renewing or becoming a member of them throughout COVID. Their numbers skyrocketed and surpassed 90% development year-over-year.
- Digital-first flexibility. In contrast to a few of their opponents, the digital nature of Hellas Direct allowed them to seamlessly swap to distant work inside a day.
- Opponents retreating. COVID has pressured everybody to return to fundamentals and give attention to their core markets. In consequence, they’re seeing much less aggressive efforts from outsiders and are even contemplating buying among the current books from the competitors.
Alexis and Emilios are happy with what they’re constructing and are additionally excited for the street forward. Going ahead, not solely do they envision Hellas Direct increasing throughout the area, however they hope to assist create an entrepreneurial ecosystem round adjoining companies. Rising markets like Greece have loads of alternative however are starved for good expertise they usually encourage Hellas Direct staff and everybody else to take the entrepreneurial step.
Alexis Pantazis is the Co-Founder and Govt Director of Hellas Direct. Previous to Hellas Direct, he was an Govt Director at Goldman Sachs the place he led principal investing and new strategic initiatives for the agency within the European funding administration subject. A former technique advisor with the Boston Consulting Group, he additionally labored for Miramax Movies in New York and the Competitors Directorate Normal of the European Fee in Brussels. Alexis is a Fulbright and British Chevening Scholar, a Robert & Diane Levy Fellow and an Endeavor World Entrepreneur.
Emilios Markou is the Co-Founder and Govt Director of Hellas Direct. Previous to Hellas Direct, he was a Director within the European Monetary Establishments Structuring crew at Barclays Capital. Earlier than that, he was an Govt Director on the Goldman Sachs Funding Banking Division the place he led quite a few initiatives throughout the agency’s European insurance coverage observe. A former technique advisor with McKinsey & Firm, Emilios suggested quite a few European, US and Asian shoppers on quite a few strategic points in insurance coverage, banking, power and transportation. Emilios is a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries (FIA) in the UK and an Endeavor World Entrepreneur.
Hellas Direct profile
Hellas Direct is a digital-first, full-stack insurance coverage firm, empowered by cutting-edge know-how and using superior analytics. The corporate is backed by a roster of main buyers, together with Portag3, IFC (a member of the World Financial institution), Endeavor Catalyst, former Goldman Sachs economist Lord O’Neill and personal fairness veteran Jon Moulton. Modeling itself on Amazon, Hellas Direct goals to disrupt the insurance coverage worth chain by adopting an excessive give attention to operational excellence. Hellas Direct was lately listed by the Monetary Occasions as considered one of Europe’s 1,000 Quickest Rising Firms.