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Niko Bonatsos


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Niko Bonatsos' Keynote at AngelHack Santiago Winter 2013

Niko Bonatsos' Keynote at AngelHack Santiago Winter 2013

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  • 1. TIPS FOR SUCCEEDING INSILICON VALLEY AS A 1ST TIMEFOUNDERNiko BonatsosGeneral Catalyst Partners@bonatsos
  • 2. Last Night in Santiago…@bonatsos
  • 3. @bonatsos
  • 4. @bonatsos
  • 5. @bonatsos
  • 6. @bonatsos
  • 7. 2 MagiciansFrancisco - Nixter Greg - AngelHack
  • 8. Who am I?•  Made in Athens, Greece•  Studied engineering at NTUA, Harvard, University ofCambridge and Stanford•  Worked as a computer engineer in Tokyo, Japan•  Launched a social network for “networkers” with one ofLinkedIn’s co-founders; we failed – wrong platform to buildon top on.•  Early stage investor in IT with General Catalyst Partnersin Palo Alto, CA.@bonatsos
  • 9. General Catalyst Partners•  Early Stage VC firm with $2.3 billion under management•  Offices in Cambridge (MA), NYC and Palo Alto (CA)•  Investing in consumer & enterprise IT•  Very active EIR program•  Portfolio companies include•  Investing in all YC teams through YC VC@bonatsos
  • 10. Off we go…@bonatsos
  • 11. Drive to Silicon Valley…@bonatsos
  • 12. @bonatsos
  • 13. A short story@bonatsos
  • 14. Why be a founder in SV?•  Tech is the no1 industry•  There is a critical mass of early adopters, founding teamtalent, mentors•  Failing is ok•  Risk appetite is very high and the gold rush mentalitypertains•  There is a lot of $ up for grabs by startup founders•  If things go well you can be on the fast track… before yourealize it…@bonatsos
  • 15. And…•  You are far away from your parents & social circles•  This makes it ok to do crazy stuff (at work)@bonatsos
  • 16. Key Challenges•  You don’t know anyone•  Nobody knows about you and your past is irrelevant tothem•  You have no $ in the bank•  You have no team•  You have little idea about how to execute your vision@bonatsos
  • 17. But you have…•  You•  An idea•  Hopefully a crazy enough idea•  Insane drive to chase the dream•  A lot of other folks around you that speak the samelanguage as you@bonatsos
  • 18. Some areas to focus on•  The Idea•  The Team•  The “Wander”•  Raising $•  Keeping the Burn Low•  Exit@bonatsos
  • 19. The Idea•  Be different (aka no more photosharing)•  Be particularly insightful about your space•  Focus on a big market•  Timing matters•  Be insanely audacious@bonatsos
  • 20. The team•  Everybody is technical…•  Hire some locals & add some grey hair•  Only hire A players•  Get married to the right investors•  Be smart about it (data exhaust: Github, LinkedIn, stackoverflow)•  Create a culture for building a category defining product@bonatsos
  • 21. The wander (aka “I still haven’t foundwhat I am looking for”)•  Tons of ups and downs… lonely journey•  Lack of credibility•  Building a startup is like surfing•  Always look for shortcuts and leverage@bonatsos
  • 22. Raising money (aka “Running up anddown Sand Hill road)•  Important… otherwise you will be running into a standstill•  Need to find somebody who will take a chance on you•  Build a network•  Seek introductions from other founders•  Focus on fundraising and get it done•  Use Angelist•  Leverage tech bloggers•  Create hype•  Know who you are meeting with@bonatsos
  • 23. Keep the burn low•  Infinite runway•  Investors like it•  You can get more shots on goal•  Cash in the bank is more important than your mom•  “Silicon Valley proverb”@bonatsos
  • 24. Exit•  Some foreign teams are bit further along and have toptechnical talent.•  If it is a small idea or the inflection point is in the next 2-3years…•  Sell now and get a green card and a salary@bonatsos
  • 25. The 7 habits of highly successful SVfounders..@bonatsos
  • 26. You are always hiring@bonatsos
  • 27. You are always selling@bonatsos
  • 28. You are always listening to customerfeedback@bonatsos
  • 29. You are always fundraising@bonatsos
  • 30. You are always shooting for the moon@bonatsos
  • 31. You are always building a product and nota technology@bonatsos
  • 32. You are always disrupting a big market atthe right time, with the right team and theright product@bonatsos
  • 33. Simple stuff we often forget•  English•  Immigration•  First Stop should be SF•  Socialize•  Learn more about the status quo@bonatsos
  • 34. And…@bonatsos
  • 35. The Greek adds to this…Be patient as it is a marathon!@bonatsos