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Entrepreneurial Excellence: ACS Athens OPEN Students Shine on Demo Day

May 22, 2024 | News

If there was a visual way to see the contagious effect of an entrepreneurial mindset, it was on stage last week when the participants from the first ACS Athens OPEN were joined with the newest cohort who are just beginning to explore their ideas surrounded both figuratively and literally with the supportive enthusiasm and expertise of Carla Tanas, Dean of the Institute of ACS Athens, the many talented mentors vital to the ACS Athens OPEN process, and Dr. Peggy Pelonis, ACS Athens President, who kicked off the “Demo Day” presentations by congratulating the students for courage and vulnerability and thanking the mentors and Ms. Tanas’ team for empowering them every step of the way.

Ms. Tanas explained the catalyst for ACS Athens OPEN by noting that this effort is an initiative created to build skills in young people who are starting their journeys in a time of non-stop change.

“How can we help students lead in uncharted waters?” she asked hypothetically. “We empower them to lead with an entrepreneurial mindset. Through this process, they grow their ideas, as individuals and with their teams by stepping out of their comfort zone, facing failure and finding lessons from disappointment to help further their mission.”

The demonstrations that Demo Day is known for started as the participants recently selected for the 2nd ACS Athens OPEN took the stage team by team. Of the 20 applications submitted for consideration, ten were selected to move forward with one team shifting out, as is common with entrepreneurial endeavors. The nine teams that presented their one-minute preliminary pitches included:

  • Oliver Lewis, Zenon Popotas, Natalia Papadoglou, Constantine Kechriotis, James Tsunis
  • Charalampos Mikropoulos and Stefanos Vranakis
  • Amaryllis Christou, Themis Christou, and Avra Petrou
  • Maya Rashid
  • Danai Markouli
  • Yichuan Zhang and Alex Wang
  • Maya Mohanram Martinez and Assia Tabit
  • Charalampos Antypas and Stavros Antypas
  • Daphne Pergamali and Lili Dryden

Next to take the lead were the teams from the 1st cohort of ACS Athens OPEN, including:

  • Gloria Kurantowicz and Noga Caspi
  • Dimitris Manioudakis, Katerina Logan, Evgenia Bakamitsou and Apostolos Tsekouras
  • Vasileia Lalaki and Venia Vlachaki
  • Fotini Vonatsou, Qianhao Wang and Nora Myers
  • Bassam Boualwan, Denis Romain, Aris Sargkisian and Panos Giannopoulos

The teams, whose ideas have evolved since they first presented in last year’s Demo Day, showed tremendous growth as they presented their pitches, complete with value propositions, financial projections and anticipated next steps, which the teams will continue to work on, some even during the summer.

As the more seasoned teams presented, it was inspiring to witness the newer teams nodding along with the presentations, whispering to teammates and sometimes pointing out insights that they seemed to be making mental reminders to consider in their journey.

Much like convening the groups together for a visual presentation of the entrepreneurial mindset, the interactions were a testament to the power of collaboration, a skill that these teams will be utilizing and growing through the ACS Athens OPEN process.

The day’s events closed when the ACS Athens Small Sat team, fresh from securing second place in the national CanSat competition, stopped by to encourage the up-and-coming entrepreneurs. Having explained how their team prepared and worked together to accomplish an impressive accomplishment the first year since their founding, they offered:

“Despite challenges, remember that the process is the most important part of the journey.”

Congratulations to all of the ACS Athens OPEN participants!

ACS Athens OPEN Participant Presentations from the 1st Cohort

ACS Athens OPEN Participant Presentations from the 2nd Cohort

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