Is the investment climate in Greece changing? At least he believes Mr. Athanasios Lazanas , president and CEO of Arclif , a holding company based in Switzerland . Mr Lazanas has recently been in Athens, together with other businessmen, for a meeting with government officials and ministers , with the aim of informing each other on investment opportunities and the business climate in our country.
Mr Lazanas spoke to CNN Greece about Arclif’s investment plans and revealed his company’s intention to come to Greece investing not only in innovative ideas but also in industry, bringing our country high-tech products.
Q: Mr Lazana, what exactly is Arclif and what does it do?
A: Artclif is an investment company. To date we have made about 60 investments in innovative ideas and products. We can start from a small investment of 10,000 euros and reach 25-30 million depending on the project. Every year we come to our offices with 600 to 800 projects that are evaluated on our criteria and we decide on which to invest.
Q: Are you investing in understanding new startups and new ideas that are at an early stage of development and supporting entrepreneurs to develop and advance the end product?
A. Right. We invest in ideas but also strategically enter into new businesses and what we are looking for is young entrepreneurs to be dedicated to their idea and also to make this product unique. I’ll give you an example. We invest in electric cars. Our car is HUMMERTM, has the design of HUMMER for which we pay the relevant rights to the company and is relatively cheap. It costs 18,000 euros. One would say it’s not a few 18,000 but it’s not 118,000 that other brands are costing. To charge an electric car you need a charging station that can cost up to 10,000 euros. So we have such technology that you can plug the car into any outlet you have in our house and charge it.
So we are looking to make people’s lives easier with smart solutions.
Q: Do you want to tell me some of the companies that you have invested in and which you see in perspective?
A: Three years ago we made an investment in a company called Wearable4you. The kid who came up with the idea and asked for $ 15 million to make the product had made an artificial nail with a chip in it. With an app from your phone you could change colors or even take pictures on it. Understand what this means for women. So we did a study on the feasibility of producing this product and today we are able to produce it, but look at what came out of this product. We made an artificial nail for patients who are admitted to a Swiss hospital for surgery. This nail has a chip that holds all of the patient’s information and so with a simple scan of a handheld device the doctor or nurse immediately sees the patient’s history and problem. Even without this information stored on the nail for security and privacy reasons, but on a remote server.
So we started with beauty products, went to health, and now we’ve made artificial nails for people with dementia or related problems, so that if they get something or lose the information they need it’s immediately accessible. If someone goes now to steal it, the chip is destroyed. We have as you understand developed very high technology. This company today has a value of over $ 2 billion. In a meeting I had with government officials I said, “Can you imagine bringing this product here to Greece for production? It will be very important for the country as it is a multi-million dollar project. ”The same goes for the electric car. Take production from China and bring it to Greece. The same is true for innovative ideas that we can find in Greece.
Q: So you tell me that Greece is interested in you as an investment destination and that you are able to evaluate new ideas from startups and beyond, and if you find it interesting to invest. Have you started contacts and research?
A: We started last year and have already seen some ideas. As Arclif we take between 600 and 800 projects every year as I told you and invest in two or three of them. We can’t invest everywhere. But what we want is to try to bring to Greece at least one project or the cars or the claw to stabilize here with a product that doesn’t exist anywhere.
Q: You had contacts with government officials. What did you gain from these discussions?
A: We attended a round table with at least 10 ministers and many businessmen. Our ministers have analyzed what has already changed and what will change in the near future and they wanted to hear our proposals and ideas. It was definitely encouraging what we heard because we understood that people meant what they said. And we believe that from now on in Greece things will get better.
Q: So I understand you are saying that you feel more confident now that Greece is overcoming the crisis and becoming an attractive investment destination. Apply;
A: Yes. There are, of course, the problems of bureaucracy. What impressed us was that for the first time we saw so many government executives at a table together and you could discuss many topics, from shipping and development to renewables and much more.
Q: You invest in wearables (high-tech devices and accessories we wear in our bodies). I would like to tell you how this market is evolving internationally and how much investment is making in this sector.
There is a rapid growth in the market. To understand in 2017-18 this market had an increase of 540%. In the years to come, these devices will become increasingly important to our lives. We are interested in various industries, not just startups. We are interested in healthy businesses that may be in the food industry, waste management etc but have a vision. What we are looking for is something different so we can invest.