Niko Bonatsos


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Niko Bonatsos' Keynote at AngelHack Santiago Winter 2013

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Niko Bonatsos

  1. 1. TIPS FOR SUCCEEDING INSILICON VALLEY AS A 1ST TIMEFOUNDERNiko BonatsosGeneral Catalyst Partners@bonatsos
  2. 2. Last Night in Santiago…@bonatsos
  3. 3. @bonatsos
  4. 4. @bonatsos
  5. 5. @bonatsos
  6. 6. @bonatsos
  7. 7. 2 MagiciansFrancisco - Nixter Greg - AngelHack
  8. 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. 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. 10. Off we go…@bonatsos
  11. 11. Drive to Silicon Valley…@bonatsos
  12. 12. @bonatsos
  13. 13. A short story@bonatsos
  14. 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. 15. And…•  You are far away from your parents & social circles•  This makes it ok to do crazy stuff (at work)@bonatsos
  16. 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. 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. 18. Some areas to focus on•  The Idea•  The Team•  The “Wander”•  Raising $•  Keeping the Burn Low•  Exit@bonatsos
  19. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 25. The 7 habits of highly successful SVfounders..@bonatsos
  26. 26. You are always hiring@bonatsos
  27. 27. You are always selling@bonatsos
  28. 28. You are always listening to customerfeedback@bonatsos
  29. 29. You are always fundraising@bonatsos
  30. 30. You are always shooting for the moon@bonatsos
  31. 31. You are always building a product and nota technology@bonatsos
  32. 32. You are always disrupting a big market atthe right time, with the right team and theright product@bonatsos
  33. 33. Simple stuff we often forget•  English•  Immigration•  First Stop should be SF•  Socialize•  Learn more about the status quo@bonatsos
  34. 34. And…@bonatsos
  35. 35. The Greek adds to this…Be patient as it is a marathon!@bonatsos