Are you in Love?

I recently attended the wonderful Entrepreneur Week Greece event. It was an event full of great feedback for ClearGist’s business plan, international connections and inspiring talks about how to instill the entrepreneurial mindset in young people and get an ecosystem growing. Thank you Hellenic Start up Association for organizing this!

In one of the session breaks I spoke with Nick, a government employee working for a regulatory agency. He told me that way back in the 90s he had thought of using the then for-military-purposes-only GPS technology to track the location of a car. And that he proposed that to the UK university he was attending and that the university told him “Great, form a company you keep 80% of it and the university gets 20% and you can use university facilities, have access to legal services and more”. Nick being a good Greek boy immediately called his mother to tell her the good news. On hearing these news she replied “Well, your grandpa  is really sick and your military draft deferment is expiring in the next 3 months so if you want to do this you should be aware that you will never see your grandpa again”. Nick decided – just like any good Greek boy – to follow mom’s advice and not pursue his venture. He was mentioning this example and he was proud in the sense of “I thought it first”. He was not saying this explicitly but he was expecting that society should give him some credit (moral or otherwise) because he thought it first.

Nick then continued and said that it is impossible in today’s environment to start a business in Greece because the judicial system takes many years before hearing bankruptcy cases and that the rights of the company owners are not adequately respected. He then said that another major reason for not starting a business in Greece is that limited liability companies have a capital requirement of 60,000 euros (which is not true, but this is besides the point) and that this is too high for a young entrepreneur therefore it is better not to start a company.

Nick, although a nice and smart guy, was the antithesis of an entrepreneur despite himself thinking otherwise. I just have one thing to say about Nick. He was not in love with the GPS thing. Because if he was in love, he would do anything to take this love to wherever he can lead it. When his mother called and said that grandpa is dying he should have said “Mom this technology called GPS can actually be used for tracking the location of a car. You know what this means? That one day every single car in the world will have this device that will know where it is so that you can get real-time directions, be located in case of an accident and much more. This will totally change the world. Sorry, what did you say about military deferment?”

And when Nick would hear about the 10 years it takes for a bankruptcy case to be settled in Greece he should have said “Well, I can always start a company in another European country and be located in Greece or not”. And when Nick would hear that the minimum capital needed to start an LLC is high he should have said “Well, we don’t need any capital now or we can form another kind of company where capital is not needed”. The point is that when you are in love with your solution to a problem you don’t stop with the first difficulty you find. Your mind can’t think in any other way than getting over the obstacle. Because your solution is beautiful and right and amazing and it will solve a huge problem and …you are in love.

Nick was expecting that someone would clear all the problems for him and that then he would start his business. Except that even if this was the case he would probably find another reason not to start because something else would be missing and he would have to wait until someone gives a solution.

Nick was not in love.



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