Founder & Managing Director, Workathlon
Hotels are not just the four walls that surround them, they are made by their people.
What is workathlon?
Workathlon is a recruitment software which connects hotels all over Greece (currently around 400) with people seeking jobs at all levels in hospitality and tourism. I currently lead a team of eight and we have built a machine-learning model that matches candidates with job openings based on an algorithm that we’ve adapted according to different positions. We are currently expanding into Cyprus and the Middle East.
How did the idea come about?
I have extensive experience in the hospitality industry due to our family tradition in hotels. The inefficiency of the hiring process became very apparent to me despite hospitality and tourism being one of the largest employers in the world. I felt there was a need for a specialized tool to aid recruitment. On top of this, more and more people are looking to switch jobs and find new opportunities and technological tools need to adapt to this.
You worked with ngo's prior to this, how did that help?
Indeed, I’ve worked with Non-Governmental Organizations like Save the Children in London before moving to Greece in 2013. We were mainly looking for ways to improve childhood education and healthcare and one of the most effective was creating jobs for their parents. An increase in the parents’ income of course improves the quality of the children’s lives too. At the time, Greece was at the peak of its economic crisis and I felt it was my duty to return and help in whatever way I could. For me creating tools to facilitate job searches and hiring was a good starting point, and so the project began.
Who is your target audience?
At Workathlon we are targeting Generation Y job-seekers, so aged between 18 and 35 who don’t use traditional job-seeking channels. The industry has so much room to innovate. Hotels are not just the four walls that surround them, they are made by their people. The employees will affect the hotel’s identity and performance. They are the face of the brand. Connecting the young workforce to employers is an area that still has room to develop and will not become irrelevant any time soon.
How has the greek market reacted to workathlon?
People embraced Workathlon right from the start. The tourism industry in Greece is mature and receptive, and highly skewed towards SMEs (small to medium sized businesses), many of them family-run. I feel that the near future will open doors to many exciting ideas in the country’s tourism sector, especially when it comes to leveraging technology. A year ago we got together with six other travel-tech startups and had a discussion with the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels. Together we managed to initiate an accelerator specialized in Greek tourism and it’s just finished its first round. This is a great example of how the public and private sectors can meet and make partnerships work!
Describe some of the challenges you’ve faced.
Each phase of this project has its challenges. I started out at age 23 as a sole founder. That in itself was an issue. I was always asked if I had a co-founder and kept trying to prove I could do it myself. And I did it! Thankfully, tourism is one of the few sectors where equality of the sexes is achieved in the workplace, so being a woman was not a major problem. However, finding the right funding was. It is quite difficult trying to find the right resources in Greece. In the meantime, putting the team together was tricky, but we have really bonded now, and I am hugely thankful for that!
Interview by Daphne Karnezis, Athens-based journalist
Photo by Ria Mort