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Top 5 Qualities of Successful Early Stage Founders - Niko Bonatsos

Niko Bonatsos
Managing Director at General Catalyst
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2020 Startup Grind Global Conference
February 11, 2020, Redwood City, CA, USA
2020 Startup Grind Global Conference
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Niko Bonatsos
Managing Director at General Catalyst

--Always SUPER eager to learn more about an ambitious startup idea. Feel free to send your slide deck my way at niko at gcvp dot com. I will get back to you if I see fit right now.--I work with early-stage worldchanging technology startups and back rockstar founders providing them with the know-how & the capital to launch new products, scale and achieve world domination.I am particularly interested in investing in and partnering with first time tech founders, who have a strong perspective about solving big problems their way. I don’t mind if you weren’t born in the U.S. (talent is universal, while opportunity is not) or if your accent sounds funny (mine does for sure). I don’t care if you didn’t go to Stanford or if you aren’t a domain expert yet. I partner with tech founders who are learning animals and treat every decision as a learning moment; these are the types that become domain experts a few years later.

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About the talk

A Q+A with Niko Bonatsos, Managing Director at General Catalyst about the Top 5 Qualities of Successful Early Stage Founders.


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How do I breathe I'm excited to be back at startup grind. It sounds like it's been a growing for me over the last couple of years. I've been working hard to make it all the way to the main stage. So thank you for making it happen for me. So I heard my partner dental calculus. We're in the business of partnering with ridiculously ambitious Founders to hopefully have what it takes to build the category defining company in their space. We have Offices here and you don't work Boston as well and we are mostly States. We write a check that range from half a million to one hundred and

fifty million dollars. So over the last few years. I've got a bin Avicii Tom has been 10 years. Now. I've developed an approach of what I'm looking for when it comes to the founders, you know that were investing it. So let's start without, you know, I don't care how you look like if your founder I've been saying that I also don't care what your accent is like my dachshund is very funny and silly. Are you bored before I also don't care which school you want to or maybe a few minutes to drop out of but

let's assume that this is something that all of our peers in computers have been doing over the last decade and it's been a lot about influencing everything that the Silicon Valley has been building and I think it all started with Uber black and this is a company the product sponsored by Uber about 10 years ago and just focus on the top 5% of earners. And I think this was like a key defining moment of all the companies were saying get billed here in Silicon Valley over the last decade that a ton of them. The consumer-facing ones have been focusing on

the top 5% of the earth. I'm helping them either make more spending decisions with their money or be more lazy some other products that can help us clean our homes or cleaner clothes when we took it a step further away started investing in companies that brought food to everyone of us look like 100 bucks, you know for like a pita sandwich at 10 even took it a step further because the top 5% of earners would be doing really well over the last decade. So we created. Companies that are offering

on demand planes and helicopters and even like to know bring you no gas fuel to our cards which is like freaking unbelievable. So then afterwards luxury places to stay Because with all this money we have now the ability to stay at 3 to go places and you know, a lot of these companies and the service is probably here to stay. All of them, but a lot of them are here to stay but the world is not just about what the top 5% of earners is going to be spending their money on and be more lazy and we now have a ton of capital and we've been subsidizing that

lifestyle but it still sucks that things are changing today has been slowing down there investing in this kind of business is so she can serve a picnic in Decatur. I'm very excited about that than a full gram said this about a decade ago that the very best start-up ideas and to have three things in common. There's something to Founders themselves one that they themselves can build and that's you realize or worth doing. I think we talked about the first couple of points with some of the examples. I had like before but in my mind in 2020 where we are right now, the

third one is a key point in the next wave of innovation has to be for everyone and as a result the next wave of Founders and Innovations. I need the Raiders have to look a lot more like everyone else from all over the world with very diverse backgrounds and Life Experiences. So obviously, you know, whatever you're doing if your Founders you get a bill for yourself, but today and 2020 you go to be building up for yourself, especially if you have an outsider point of view and that's important. If your base here in the valley, you go to Stanford all the

other months of colleges vehicle chamber is like messing up with your mind. We only talked about SDK API is not relevant for most of the world. So if you're an outsider with an outsider point of view, probably, you know, which technology is the majority of the people would need. Also you have a much better idea of what kind of problems that few people to your may have and they also realize it's worth doing so I think that's a really really big opportunity because When You're So Vain problems from Main Street,

you have huge potential for impact and success. So that's a space of personality the most interested in and have been investing along the way over the last couple of years. It's a space where we're helping individuals make more money. Be more lazy doing the same for small businesses in general investing in startups that can connect people to work or 14th is also making it easier to run their businesses with made a number such Investments. You're going to hear from Jaws from Gaston, which is a leading SMB payroll and benefits company in

like 10 minutes. We've invested in fund books and house GoPro. All of them are helping Mana DSM V Buck office. We've invested in digit which is really cool product. That's helping consumers with financial literacy and taking Monday. I've even bought the company that is helping locksmiths really make more money and be more lazy monitor business on their own terms. Started by former locksmiths if you had said to me you're going to come to Silicon Valley to invest and locksmiths who is building a product for others like a hurricane will be like, you must be in a

freaking nut and it even something more crazy invested in the married couple in a company like it started by nurse helping nurses make more money and have more flexibility in volume to weight for Westside investing in married couples is never going to work because if one of them doesn't scale, how are you going to figure out how to fire? You know, what kind of them or both of them as an investor? So all these companies aren't showing really really strong signs of product Market fit and I do believe that this is the kind of companies that we're going to be staying at Turn

Mower over the next decade. So this is the opportunity for starting companies as well as investing and why is this happening is happening because there has been a big shift over the last few years today, Silicon Valley. You do not have to be here in order to be successful. You can read about the Lean Startup methodology. You can read about how we are. Happy typing up Nova Technologies here with all the cool marketing and Bruce hiking stuff. We've been doing are you can read about that stuff unpacked Quran some Hector use you can come to Vons like startup grind. If you're lazy. You

can even want some of this on Silicon Valley the show on HBO. Can you learn from all this stuff? How do I divide rapidly on the product from like these worldly Silicon Valley companies have been doing Kenny most important to get hold of death 1 Mentor with Uber connected over here. So you can have access to the entire network of Silicon Valley. That's all you need to do. So the best combination is reaching the outside point of view that you have and then build it companies without Silicon Valley mindset as I mentioned. You don't need to be here you can have the remote We have

Silicon Valley. I think this last year from correct that we found out that the remote teams can work and that's a good way to build companies and we only found out about that because it's really really expensive to hire an engineer's over here and both of them are mercenaries and every year they move to another place but remote can really work for the company building. So if you are the outsider, it's like Silicon Valley for what's important for outside of the valet. I think that's a big kid to becoming very very successful. Please solve real problems for massive massive market and if

they mention there has never ever been a better time to do this still reflecting on these thoughts. I had to basically revise my Mantra of what I'm looking for in all the founders of meeting with so now I do care how you look like I do care about your oxen and how you sound I do care a lot about where you work before I also hear about what school you graduated or even dropped out off at the difference this time around is that the more you don't look and sound like Silicon Valley and the more you can show that you can understand the point

of view of the 95% the more I want to hear from you at this moment in time where things are changing and things are changing because etana Founders from all over the world have woken up. They have the Silicon Valley mindset. They can have access to Capital because Kira we've become the startup financing capital of the world and their businesses the way that they want with like remote Engineers do the businesses with people that look for a different day that he has to work late at the

talent that you say in Silicon Valley companies. In fact, actually this presentation was inspired because I met a young founder about 2 weeks ago and she's not from here. She's from outside of the Bay Area. She doesn't sound like anybody. That they normally meet during the 10 meetings. I do with Founders everyday and I hopefully will have managed to win a very competitive series a round raising today, and I was going to make her later tonight and give her a truancy. So we got you sound like these kind of person please contact me here is my email

address. Thank you for your attention.

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