Interview with George Diakomanolis, COO at DIGISEC
Today we have the pleasure to welcome George Diakomanolis co-founder and COO of DIGISEC. George has a BSc in Business Economics, and MBA and an MSc in Quality Systems Management. He has worked as a Managing Director and Business Development Director in tech companies for more than 20 years.
He launched DIGISEC in 2017, and last year the company won the startup of the year award by ELEVATE GREECE.
Here’s what he told us.
Tell us a few things about DIGISEC. How did it all start? How did you discover the market opportunity for your technology, and where are you today?
Digisec is a Greentech solutions designer; we design and produce products based on Computer Vision, especially for the Renewable Energy Services industry. The founders, Chis Diakomanolis and I have been working in top management positions in tech companies, Chris as a Technical Director and myself in Business Development and General management, so we complete each other. It all started with an idea and a business plan in 2017. We joined up with some investors, who also became friends, and started Digisec. We started in retail analytics but quickly focused in Greentech, and we recognized the need for a state-of-the-art bird deterrence solution for wind farms. In 2019 we launched our solution, Bird Monitoring System®. Today, we are the leaders in the Greek market and are already exporting to Italy, France, and Germany, while we expect to expand in Spain and Austria in early 2023.
We believe in cooperation, it is part of our corporate culture. Next month we are announcing an important collaboration that will help us navigate quickly and safely toward our goal of becoming leaders in the European and world markets in the next five years.
What value do you bring to the clients and partners? What differentiates you from the rest of the industry?
Our expertise in Computer Vision and dedication in designing products based on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for Greentech is our drive. We are fortunate enough to do business while contributing to the protection of the environment. And to be honest, it’s quite addictive. We are constantly looking for new ideas that will help us pass on a greener and more diverse world to our children.
Our system is the only one in the market based on Machine Learning technology. Competitive systems use outdated motion detection technology. As a result, any movement in the sky around the wind farm is considered an event. So, the wind turbines are often forced to stop because of false positive alarms caused by airplanes, clouds, insects etc., causing massive production and income loss to operators. Our system has almost zero false positives, so we manage to preserve the environment while maximizing energy production, keeping everyone happy—operators, environmental authorities, and of course us.
What would you consider to have been (or are) your biggest challenge so far?
Our biggest challenge so far has been the limited or no access to capital. When we started in 2017 banks were shut for startups. And to a great extent, this is still the case. The Greek startup ecosystem was not developed then, and there was no Elevate Greece nor SEV for startups, so access to VCs and angel investors was limited. As a result, we had to search for investors in our circle of friends and family
Limited access to capital is still a big challenge for us. Our European competitors can finance their projects through their banks; we can’t do that. We need to finance our projects using our capital, which we would invest in R&D and develop better products. So, we need twice as much capital and take much higher risks compared to our European competitors.
What are the biggest learnings from your journey so far?
Our initial business plan had no Greentech or RES written in it. We started our company focusing on Retail Analytics, creating a Business Intelligence platform that gathered information and data from sensors installed in retail stores, giving retailers a bunch of interesting KPIs. Then the COVID-19 pandemic came along and dramatically changed retail – and the world for that matter. Ultimately, this allowed us to reconsider our options and think outside of the box. We still had a fantastic deep tech team with some amazing unconventional minds.
Less than three years later, we are a Greentech company leading the market in Greece and quickly expanding to all major European markets. We have won several national and international awards, and we were the Environmental Impact Award winners as well as the Startup of the Year at the National Startup Awards in 2022
So the biggest learning from our journey so far, no matter how cliché it might sound, is always keep your mind open, always try to be ready for the unexpected and always think outside the box.