The birth of the startup community heralds the dawn of a new future for Cyprus
By Artemis Pnevmatikou What is a startup? Even though the Cypriot startup scene is at a very early stage the confusion around the definition of the term “startup” seems to be dominant. But this confusion is not limited to Cyprus, it is a problem we are seeing in other international markets too. When we are talking about startups, we are not just talking about the latest app, or tech trend or anything that comes out of San Francisco for that matter. A startup is a relatively new company founded by an innovative idea which has potential to be built into a scalable business model. When it comes to understanding what startups do, the best answer is that they find a solution to a problem and they are developing their business so as to deliver this to the market. The Cypriot startup ecosystem is a startup itself, one might say. Last year the country endured a bleak period when the economic crisis hit Cyprus, shaking the local banking system. The whole population, but particularly young people, started to see that they needed to be creative in order to survive and thrive. The birth of a Cypriot startup community opened the doors to unleash the talents of many creative, goal oriented, and determined people with the ambition to change the world. Perhaps, to most disbelievers among us, changing the world is not a realistic aspiration. However, contributing to changing our small island by establishing new roots and ways of thinking for the generations to come is a glorious initiative each one of us should support. Let’s not forget that startups can help economic growth by creating new industries and new job positions, but also – thanks to technological advancement – global markets are in our reach too. A company based in Cyprus can easily operate abroad bringing significant foreign capital to the island. So what is the role of PR when it comes to supporting startups? Usually startup companies are simply not ready to release any information to the media. A sad but true fact of startups is that a high percentage will not be successful. Sometimes the entrepreneur does not manage to secure funds, other times the product is not working as it was initially thought it would. In any case, a media relations strategy for a startup company should be considered only once the company is able to answer the following questions: What is the product? Which problem is it solving? Why is it different than the existing ones in the market? Only once the company is developed to this extent can a narrative be ready and, a PR professional can help turn a startup business into an interesting story. It is quite understandable that startups usually cannot afford the services of a capable PR agency. This creates a problem as sometimes it is public hype that makes the difference between success and failure for startups. So, what is Action Global Communications’ solution to this problem? Support for the startup community. As PR consultants our role is not only to disseminate information about the latest news from our clients. We are here to help brands, companies, and organizations to position themselves in the market and communicate their messages to the world effectively. The startup community’s message right now is clear, positive, and most importantly ethical: Entrepreneurship helps the leaders of tomorrow to experiment, challenge themselves, learn, create, succeed and ultimately lead us into a new and improved setting. We need to work with the organizations involved in the local startup community, business angels, accelerators, incubators, events, to spread the message and attract more people to embrace or entities to support entrepreneurship. After all, every community needs PR in order to pass the borders of its own reach, map, approach, and relate with its stakeholders to develop and grow. Currently, Action Cyprus is collaborating with a range of organizations within and outside the startup community to promote entrepreneurship and share useful information with potential startup founders on funding, support, and other opportunities to get them started. To get started in entrepreneurship in Cyprus you can benefit from funding programmes such as the European Commission funding for SMEs under Horizon2020 (http://ec.europa.eu/easme/sme_en.htm). If you have a clean tech idea, you can apply now for Europe’s largest business idea competition CleanLaunchpad Competition (www.cleanlaunchpad.eu/). Finally there are many organizations in the local startup community to help you get started, like the Cyprus Business Angels Networks (http://cyban.com.cy/), the non-profit Cypriot Enterprise Link (http://www.projectcel.com/), the first Cypriot accelerator Chrysalis LEAP (http://chrysalisleap.com/), Repower Cyprus (http://www.repowercyprus.com/), and strategic investors Invelopment Partners (www.invelopmentpartners.com).