Beginning with interview-dedications, we were looking for something ‘fresh’ and I think that we finally found it in museum hallways! Clio Muse is a new application which will not only help us see museums in a different light, but also aid our foreign guests learn the history which lies hidden behind each exhibit. As of today, the whole experience of visiting a museum changes, becoming all the more interesting and captivating. Clio is the muse of epic poetry and history and Clio Muse is Daphne, John and Andrew and here we are chatting with them!
How long have you known each other for?
We met 1.5 years ago in the Athens Startup Weekend University which took place in October 2012. That is when Daphne and John met, who were working in another team at the time. But with Andrew we became a team at the Startup Weekend Next, which was a 4- week seminar teaching us how to put together a startup business. We met Andrew on the very first day, when we were divided into idea-teams, and that is when he first told us of his idea to create a worldwide web for the promotion of cultural heritage. This plan had, at the time, seemed very interesting, but, simultaneously, hardly achievable. Nevertheless, we started working on it and we gradually began giving it substance.
What did you find in each other?
We went through many stages as a team before ending up in our actual form. We originally began with six members, but after the first year we finally ended up with 3 co-founders. We are Daphne Tsevreni, graduate of the department of Business Management and Administration of the Financial University of Athens, John Nikolopoulos, electrical engineer and graduate of the Polytechnic of Patras and Andrew Fatouros, graduate of the department of Conservation of Antiquities and Works of Art of the Technical College of Athens. The roles of the team are respectively distributed: Daphne is the business mind of the team, John is the leader developer of the application as well as the community manager and Andrew, the one who best knows the fields of culture and thus mainly deals with the texts of the application and the contacts with these.
How is your partnership?
In these 1.5 years we have been working together we have been through many difficulties, but, now, we have become more than friends; we feel as if we’ve known each other for years. This is, after all, the most significant factor leading us forward, because, teamwork ultimately is the single most important prerequisite for an idea to succeed.
What is Clio Muse?
It is a platform connecting cultural institutions with their guests, sharing unique histories about their chosen exhibits. For visitors, it operates as an interactive tool guide through which they may learn interesting facts regarding the various exhibits which they may then grade, share and add as favourites. Moreover, in the areas of culture, it acts as a rating tool of the exhibits through statistics which arise from the opinion of their visitors. Finally, it also provides a means of demonstrating and promoting the exhibit itself.
How have the managers of the museums received you this far?
As for the reception we have had from the museums, initially, when our idea hadn’t been completed yet, we had approached 20 museums in order for them to respond to a questionnaire which we had designed to better understand their needs. That is when we found a few difficulties to approach them. So, even though our idea hadn’t yet been developed in its final form, we at least saw that there was interest for what we were making. The first museum to really believe in us was the Athenian Museum – Institution Vourou - Eftaksia. The director of the museum, Aglaia Archontidou, gave us the opportunity to experiment and develop the Clio Muse in her museum. Thus, the pilot version of our Clio Muse application operated for the very first time on the 13th of February 2014 in this museum. Today we are in discussion with 5 other museums in Greece and with one in the US for the expansion of the application’s usage there too.
Is its downloading free of charge?
Our application is free for the user/guest and its basic and special characteristic is that it may be used by the users in order to navigate themselves around the exhibits and their histories before, during and after their visit at the cultural place. Meanwhile, and with the same application, it is possible for the users to guide themselves through all other collaborative museums.
How easy is it to devote so much time to Clio Muse?
Broadly speaking, the time we all devote to Clio Muse is something we no longer think about that much anymore. It requires a lot of energy, but it is something which we all believe in and want to see succeed. It isn’t an application which will grant us financial gain alone; it is also something which implies a special social impact. We would like to believe that it has the potential to make art and civilization accessible and understood by each and every one of us.
Which is you favourite aspect?
Our favourite aspect in Clio Muse is that every time we discover a new story for the exhibits and add it to the application, we are reminded of how unique and important these artifacts are and Clio Muse tries to show them to us from every angle.
How hard or easy is such an endeavour? What are the difficulties you are facing?
Our endeavour is indeed difficult, but not more than any other new business beginning today. Our greatest weapon in these difficulties is our persistence and effort, both of which can only exist if you truly love what you are doing.
What would you change could you go back in time?
I don’t know if we’d change something because I really believe that circumstance and luck brought us together as a team and it is not often the case for a group of strangers to not only become co-workers, but also the best of friends.
What is your vision for Clio Muse?
Our vision is to create a worldwide web of museums and exhibitions which will be displayed and will be interconnected via the unique histories of their artifacts. We want to change the way we see and understand these places, to make them more accessible both metaphorically and literally.
In the phase you are right now, what would be the best that could happen?
The best that could happen would be to find a sponsor so as to develop Clio Muse faster given that we still have many elements which we would like to add.
Which is your favourite holiday spot?
Our favourite holiday spot for Clio Muse is Andros. It combines wonderful beaches with picturesque alleys and beautiful landscapes. In addition, and always in the spirit of Clio Muse, Andros also has amazing museums of diverse kinds which complete the fantastic experience of its visitor. As such, we would recommend the island without reserve to any and every pro-museum visitor.
On a personal level, my favourite holiday spot is Skopelos because it combines green and blue. Moreover, it was the favourite holiday place for my family and it always brings back nice memories. I recommend it without hesitation to anyone who likes blue beaches along with the green colour of the enclosing trees. On the whole, it is a calm island, truly beautiful and very picturesque.
I prefer Loggos Aigiou which we visit with my family very often all year round. It is a coastal village near the Aegean; it is located 35 km outside Patras, it has crystal clear and deeply stony beaches, which always relax me whenever I am there. I like Loggos because it is one of the few places which haven’t been deformed by tourism and has still managed to keep its traditional elements. I have had wonderful times there when I learnt how to swim, and, in general, it is a place which reminds me of my childhood.
My favourite holiday place is Andritsena. It is an alternative destination for the summer since it isn't near the sea, but, it is, nevertheless, a very picturesque area. What I like the most in Andritsena is the calmness it instills in me. Its traditional way of life and its people create an atmosphere which is very familiar and very greek.
Why are we beginning with Daphne, John and Andrew?
Because they represent the so-called new generation and have something new to show us through their work in further displaying the great artifacts we have in our museums all over Greece. After getting to know them better, what has left its imprint from this conversation is that, as people, and in spite of adversity, they project the enthusiasm of life and rightfully earn the attention of their interlocutor. Good luck guys!!!