ATHENS – Devoted to motivating teams and individuals, dynamic duo Maria Calafatis and Stavros Messinis have created something unique in the center of Athens. Together, they run The Cube Athens – a startup coworking space, accelerator, and incubator with a breathtaking, unobstructed view of the city center – home to international startups, digital nomads, designers, developers, and change makers.
While COVID-19 saw Greeks sheltering in place at home, there was no rest at the Cube Athens, where Messinis and Calafatis immediately connected their community virtually with a series of Guest@Home live discussion series from 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM daily, which they continue today.
“After the first month of lockdown, many had come up with cool and innovative ideas to come out of all this,” Calafatis said. “The number one rule is to not panic and to remember that a crisis also brings opportunity. Seek that opportunity. Think with a clear mind. Create, innovate, and most importantly, have fun.”
The Cube’s Guest@Home series have included talks on The Art of Being Human First, Getting a job after Covid, Digital Transformation in Fashion, Musings of a Failed Entrepreneur, and more.
With lockdowns reemerging in the United States and experts warning of a second wave of COVID-19, the challenges this situation has created remain. But Calafatis believes entrepreneurs are always hungry for challenges. “It’s about acting and thinking fast, and seeking the opportunity in the crisis to make an impact in any and every way possible,” she said. “This is also an opportunity for those who were unhappy with their everyday life and routine, life before the lockdown, to think of better ways of handling things.”
Calafatis spoke to The National Herald about leading efforts at The Cube Athens while Greece and other countries were on lockdown, and what’s next for the entrepreneurial scene in Athens.
The National Herald: How have restrictive COVID-19 measures impacted life at The Cube Athens and life in general?
MC: It was a huge impact both for The Cube and our lives. One day we were up and running and the next we had to shut down a building full of teams, members, events, and activities.
With our Guest@Home series, we have a guest speaker join us virtually with a cool topic and insights on the whole situation. This way we kept the community together, engaged and connected, offering a whole new identity as The Cube too.
On a personal level we are under lockdown, spending more time at home, which also needs some getting used to and to keep a good balance in handling both work and home.
TNH: How do you think our lives will have changed moving forward?
MC: I would say that we will become a lot more conscious of decision-making: the way we will spend our time. There will be more focus, better planning, better use of going digital and not having to do everything physically, saving everyone time and energy, as I really hope it will also limit Athens city center’s hectic traffic.
TNH: Do you think the current hardships have yielded anything positive?
MC: For sure, the opportunity to stop and reflect, to think of better and different solutions for our everyday decisions. This global crisis will change us for sure, but at the same time has brought a whole new world of opportunities. It would be great to see how both individuals and businesses will be juggling ideas and innovation for a better tomorrow.
TNH: What did you miss the most about life before COVID-19?
For sure our community and the everyday physical activity, then the outdoors, the beach, and travelling.