Lela Dritsa Psarros graduated from Deree – The American College of Greece in 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, and continued her studies with an MA in International Journalism at City University London. She has worked in the communications field for 10 years, focusing on communication strategy planning and promotional event management.
Lela visualized Nannuka.com in 2013, and along with Natalie Levi and Catherine Lambrou gave thousands of parents the opportunity to find a well-trusted helping hand, making Nannuka one of the largest online care destinations in Greece, and has recently been launched in Italy and the UK.
Nannuka is also one of the largest online services that connects families with childcare professionals and counts more than 70,000 registered members in just 3 years of operation. For her advocacy and work at Nannuka, Lela has been named one of Forbes’ 100 women entrepreneurs in Europe, and one of the Fortune magazine’s “40 under 40” most influential young people in business.
Lela enjoys being a wife, a mother of two adorable children, and a woman entrepreneur giving valuable insight by decoding the market’s needs while never ceasing to monitor growth opportunities for Nannuka.
Q.: How did you come up with the idea of Nannuka?
During my years of working in the communication field, I gained valuable insight to use in my own business project which emerged out of a real time and real life need: As a mother, sandwiched at an early age between caring for two small children and a heavy workload, I has trouble finding a caretaker, and realized that the answer was online technology resources and the power of communities with mutual needs. That is what kick-started Nannuka.
Q.: In the current socioeconomic crisis, what is the biggest challenge you faced as a startup, and how did you overcome it?
Well, Nannuka started in the middle of this socioeconomic crisis so we were very aware of the market’s limitations and the effect this all had on people’s psychology, but the challenge was to be creative and resourceful in spite of the crisis, and even be inspired by the current situation that required updated solutions. So, the issue was to be alert and responsive to the new scene that demanded services that are 100% the solution to real needs and problems.
We didn’t have the luxury to guess or try to propose new needs and come up with new solutions. We had to work on what was already there, right before our eyes, to work on the needs that required solutions right away. And to be honest, personally I think this is what a service should offer at any given point in time, regardless of the economic crisis or possible opportunities. Respond to a market gap and consumers will be grateful that you created a bridge between the need and a product or service.
Q.: And having made it in this tough scenario, what is the biggest challenge you face today?
Today, it’s all about growth and expansion. Of course, working on what you have already built, making sure it’s still relevant and of top quality for your customers never leaves your list of priorities but then, coming up with additional services that highlight your supremacy in the category is an organic need if your vision is to thrive.
Therefore, launching in new markets (Italy and the UK) and trying to cover the field of care from more angles so that Nannuka becomes the domain name for online family care services: that is our biggest challenge today. A pledge that keeps us both enthusiastic about Nannuka’s future, and ready on our toes for possible pitfalls!
Q.: A lot of successful Greek startups eventually decide to sell to foreign buyers. What are your thoughts on this? Have you been approached about selling Nannuka?
This is indeed a best-case scenario for many startups worldwide. It’s living proof that what you started as an idea became a project, and soon will be a profitable business that made it to the top! It means that you “raised your child” with all the right tools and now, proudly, you see other people congratulating you on your choices and the risks you took. And, since the buyer has more resources than you, you could see your vision thriving and getting an even better chance to reach wider markets and respond to more needs – the reason you built the startup in the first place.
As far as Nannuka is concerned, there is nothing that can be formally announced yet, but I am sure big things are on the horizon!
Q.: Being a successful female entrepreneur makes you a role model to a lot of women, if you could send them one message, what would it be?
I always try to think beyond the binary logic of female and male entrepreneurship but even though it’s 2017 – to paraphrase Justin Trudeau – women entrepreneurs still face obstacles, stemming from society’s mindset and, of course, by the many roles they undertake.
Being a mother of two children, and speaking from experience in… multitasking, I tried to make peace with all my roles and to not feel that being a good entrepreneur means by default that I am a bad mother or the opposite. On the contrary, being a good entrepreneur enables me to be a happier and more fulfilled mother. But, when you feel its humanely impossible to take care of everything in just 24 hours – so little time, so many things to get done – then you have to just prioritize, without guilt. What I also suggest for young women is to find inspiring female role models and stick to their magnetic examples.
Q.: A lot of young people want to dive right into starting their own venture. However, you had extensive experience before you attempted to “bring to life” your own idea. Do you think this played a role in the success of Nannuka?
An academic background and professional experience is a must-have when it comes to launching a new start-up or any other business project. That’s a very strong premise. But, on the other hand, it takes a lot more than that. You need to have “market instincts”, acute networking skills, a strong personal drive, a deep commitment, and, of course, an organic motivation to constantly update your insights with current trends.
Q.: What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs? How can one know if their idea has what it takes?
Well, one test that can help you figure out if your idea will thrive is to actually experience the problem you are trying to solve. If you’ve been there, witnessing the problem firsthand and wishing there was a magical solution, it’s only natural other people have felt that way, too. So, go ahead and invent that magical solution, first for yourself, and then for everybody else.
The next step in making sure your idea has what it takes, is finding the right team. Studies show that the wrong team is one of the biggest reasons startups fail at the beginning. So, find the right team and stick to it, adding to it carefully and correctly.
Q.: What are your plans for the future? (for Nannuka, and for yourself)
For Nannuka, the plan is to make it a household name for everything relating to family care – from childcare and education, to care for the elderly, and even house holding. The absolute helping hand that families turn to. Furthermore, one of our main concerns at this time is to fortify our presence in the European markets we have recently expanded to.
Future plans for myself include finding time for personally enriching activities, and, of course, making time to just hang around with my kids refilling my batteries with love and affection… a great venture for the days to come!