By Xenia Kourtoglou

Inspired by egg-enter•grow•go

#egg #eurobank #innovation #startup #success 

The above title belongs to a Qualitative Research that I conducted in 2012, for the first Conference of I for U of the Mentoring Network that seven Greek women entrepreneurs had just created to support female entrepreneurship.

In my opinion, entrepreneurship knows no gender, it’s just one and for all of us. The issue with women is that they simply need, due to long-standing social stereotypes, more encouragement to dare to realise their vision and their potential. 

Both my research and my experience with my own startups, but also with the hundreds of companies I have worked with in my 35 years of experience in Market Research, lead me to the same conclusions regarding the success factors for a business which is just starting out.  

1. The Team

Businesses are people, as are their customers, so the first basic factor for a business that has a potential to grow, let alone to become well-known, is its people: the entrepreneur(s) and their team. An entrepreneur is a person with vision, broadened horizons, courage and high emotional intelligence.

The next three important characteristics are faith in their vision, ability to inspire others, and perseverance. When I was starting out with Focus Bari, at the same time with the development of private media, there was a great opportunity for a reliable "Industry Currency Survey" for the whole market. This was my vision, to create a Media Research of European standards in Greece, something that my collaborators immediately embraced.

2. Creating Values 

An idea, innovation, the coverage of a need either B2C or B2B, needs to be accompanied by what we call "added value", so that customers feel and realise in practice that what they buy is by far worth their money. For us, back then, the investment was great and we had no funds: we invested whatever profit we made from ad hoc research in Media Research, making it an innovative and reliable tool for the Media, Advertisers and customers, educating users, going systematically beyond the extra mile, until all their needs were fully met. We always gave our data to all the institutions and the Universities, we helped professors and students in their diplomas, and we were always, 24/7 close to our clients.


3. Faith in Principles / Values

Every business that is starting out creates its own culture, its own value system. For us at Focus Bari, our values ​​were non-negotiable, even though temporarily we lost some advantages, but never in the long run. For 33 years "Focus Bari's signature" is associated with excellent quality scientific work, reliability, and substantial support of the clients, their team and their brand / business. These values ​​have been adopted by all our associates, who today constitute several "generations" of executives in the market.

After all, it is this faith that gives the team the strength and courage to manage and overcome challenges, and for us at Focus Bari, challenges have always been too many, usually deriving from dissatisfied media when their data was not what they expected, which is an international phenomenon though. However, with our faith, patience and continuous market training, we have managed not only to establish Bari Media Research for 30+ years, but also to lead the market to high levels.

4. Continuous Progress and Evolution

Nowadays, no matter how successful a company or a product is in the market, it requires constant vigilance, monitoring of new developments, customers, the market, the new conditions, etc. Focus Bari has been delivering software research since 1988, tracking technology developments from its earliest steps in 1993, being the first company to launch its own web page, the first to computerize all fieldwork in the beginning of 2000, created its own ERP when the concept didn't even exist, and created on its own initiative successful, innovative research tools in the Greek market.

In 2020, during the Covid pandemic, Focus Bari  following a relevant proposal became the Affiliate Partner of YouGov in Greece, bringing BrandIndex and Profiles - two internationally successful research tools - to the Greek market.

What I would advise all young people who dream of their own business is to fully believe in their idea, to be their own "customers", to research it thoroughly and  examine their target audience, to attract the right partners and to reach a sustainable business model with prospects of development.
I would suggest doing what they can to have this "seed money" needed to reach proof of concept. It would also be very helpful if they could get organic growth, and then think about attracting investors because when something "works in practice", it is more likely to attract funds in contrast to just being a simple idea. Finally, something even more important than money is the right mentors who will inspire and support them.

Precisely because I believe in Mentoring for Startup Teams, I have been a regular mentor at Eurobank EGG, since the beginning of this activity, which is extremely rewarding and essentially helps startups transform into successful businesses and their teams grow into future pillars of the business sector.