Stratis Camatsos a US-trained lawyer who decided to return to the island of his father’s birth to start producing some of the world’s finest olive oil. Camatsos gave up his life in the United States to return to rural Greece. We caught up with him in between daily duties of running a small business in Greece.
1) Do you regret leaving the United States to return to Greece?
I don’t live with regret in my life. Once you make a choice, you should stick to it and never look back. It just becomes another chapter in your life faced with different challenges. Of course there are certain things that I miss from the US as it is a part of me having been born and raised there, but there are things that Greece offers that the US does not have and it is the perfect place to be as a young entrepreneur in the olive oil business, as there are many opportunities that Greece offers, but which can be best harvested by similar minded business men as myself, who also have an international background and experience.
2) What’s the toughest challenge to starting and operating your business in Greece?
To have enough patience…
I think that the toughest challenge to start a business in Greece is the lengthy time it takes to actually set it up due to the various bureaucratic/public sector/government obstacles placed on the procedure. In addition, the initial start up costs are very high. It’s like wanting to run with bricks tied to your ankles.
As for operating my business, the biggest obstacles are due to the slower pace of life, which affects the pace of business as making decisions take a while, finding the right person to talk to is always a feat on its own, and meetings are drawn out. Generally, lot of patience is required.
3) What kind of partnerships/collaborations are you looking for in the United States, Canada and elsewhere in the world?
I still believe that if a business or person cannot find a way to collaborate with others to achieve their goal, then they will fall short somewhere along their path to realization. Thus, when I set out to export first our organic olive oil and now our other products, I knew that to enter each market as an SME, I would need to be smart and find partners with local know-how and to have a presence on the ground. Therefore, my first step was to find trustworthy people and companies who would represent and sell our olive oil and products to customers effectively and efficiently. The second stage of my collaborations is to now find partners to innovate either newer products and/or ideas either in the food sector or beyond. For example, a small team of mine is looking into the marketing aspect of smaller producers and companies to enhance in-store user experience through the use of augmented reality.Interview with Olive Oil Philanthrepreneur Stratis Camatsos, Founder of evoᶾ Olive Oil,