While some of his university colleagues dreamt of pursuing a career abroad, young entrepreneur Fanis Koutouvelis was resolved to stay and inspire the growth of start-ups across Greece.
Intale, a digital platform he created in 2010, provides ‘superhero powers’ to small shop owners and convenience stores’ managers, by providing them with cutting-edge management tools. With support from the Enterprise Europe Network, Intale has grown and is currently eyeing foreign markets.
Fanis, CEO of Intale, was studying Computer Engineering in Volos when an idea to create a cloud-based software to connect retailers, suppliers and producers of goods, creating a unified and transparent marketplace, started flourishing.
"Intale is the evolution of i-kiosk (a retail platform for small shop owners), an idea that I developed when I was studying computer engineering," he recalls. "A convenience store has almost the same complexity as a supermarket: stocks of thousands of products, complex inventories, demanding and impatient customers and small margins. Yet, in contrast to supermarkets, the management of all the stores’ operations is undertaken by just one person," said Fanis.
Sensing a potential business opportunity, he stopped his studies to pursue his dream. The young entrepreneur developed a platform allowing shop owners to manage stock, orders, product placement and suppliers more effectively.
I-kiosk, a blockbuster software Fanis co-founded, later evolved into Intale Point, a user-friendly app through which small business owners plan and optimise their stores’ daily activities. Using the app and barcode scanner, they are able to speed up transactions, saving 3 to 8 seconds per customer; the inventory management allows them to order what the store needs, thus avoiding overstocking; the order is created in the Intale Point, with a built-in functionality to identify low stock products. The shop owner can also manage employee shifts and control the cash register. Most importantly, the shop owner has access to integrated data that can help him increase sales, reduce costs and improve margins.
Intale, a mini Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, which is easy to use and does not bear the same complexity of its larger legacy competitors, has quickly taken the Greek market by storm, boasting a customer base of over 700 stores. Looking to expand abroad, Fanis and Intale’s COO Orestis Tzanetis turned to their local Enterprise Europe Network for help.
The world's largest support network for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) with international ambitions "identified their innovation potential and supported them to access EU funding through the prestigious SME Instrument programme. Being acknowledged as one of the most promising companies in the field of Business Intelligence Retail Data helps them attract investments and collaborations with leading commercial partners," said Georgia Tzenou, coordinator of Enterprise Europe Network-Hellas at the National Documentation Centre.
The SME Instrument is the EU research and innovation programme helping innovative small firms with high growth potential.
The Network provided tailored support to help the company grow faster. It helped Intale throughout the SME Instrument application and implementation processes, while also advising on how to protect their ideas and assets, match their needs with appropriate business coaches, and expand abroad.
"The company is now researching several markets to assess where it should expand to outside Greece. USA, Germany, UK, Spain, Italy, Poland, Russia and Turkey are some of the countries in the company’s radar. The Greek Network combines international business expertise with local knowledge, and has already contributed to more than 680 partnership agreements since 2008," Georgia stressed.
"The Network’s help was critical, especially while applying for EU funding. We couldn’t have done it without them. Matchmaking with business mentors proved very useful too, and helped me grow as a leader, manager and entrepreneur. The next step is the international expansion," Fanis added.
Intale reached significant employment growth, starting as a six-staff company and currently employing 27. The Greek SME has been able to successfully close a USD 3 million investment deal and inspire the growth of other start-ups in the country. "More than 100 million transactions will take place next year using Intale’s systems, with an expected turnover of almost half a billion euros," Fanis said.