Niko Bonatsos is the Managing Director at General Catalyst Partners an early stage venture capital fund specialising in (Series A/B) tech startups.
Niko’s passion is working with first-time technology founders with strong product instincts and he’s been part of a number of high profile deals, most notably with Snapchat which IPOd with a $28 billion initial valuation back in 2017.
A keen learner with a curious mind, Niko has been a student in multiple countries, getting his Bachelors in Engineering and Computer Science in Athens before graduating from Stanford with a Masters in Management Science and Engineering and getting an MPhil from Cambridge. He also worked in Tokyo at the R&D headquarters for Yokogawa Electric Corporation and attributes this random walk through the world as a key asset in his role as a venture investor.
In this episode we discuss:
- Why Niko wants the founder he invests in to be learning animals and how he identifies this
- How the tone of the conversation in the Valley has changed since the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal
- The differences between the tech ecosystems in Europe and the US
We also discuss Niko’s experiences as a founder and student and the possibilities of tech driving forward a recovery in my home country of Greece. This was a great episode packed full of useful insights about all things tech - Niko is a brilliantly curious mind and was a pleasure to chat to.
- Introducing Niko [00:33]
- What was school like for Niko? [02:31]
- Niko on the people that inspired him during multiple stages of his life [04:27]
- How valuable is education in Niko’s perspective? How does that reflect on the way he looks at founders? [08:32]
- How was Niko’s experience in Japan? What did Niko learn from that time? [12:37]
- What was it like for Niko to start his own company right after Stanford? [16:02]
- What does Niko look for in founders during an assessment or conversation? [18:29]
- How does Niko decide on the investments he chooses? Is he guided by a specific thesis or view of the world? [21:44]
- How did the deal with Snapchat come about? What did he see in those early stages that excited him? [25:24]
- How does Niko view the tech ecosystem, especially since he is right in the middle of it? [29:39]
- How has the tone of conversation in the Valley changed since the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal? [33:45]
- What are the major differences between the tech ecosystems in Europe and the US? [35:50]
- Niko on the possibility of Greece’s tech industry as a force for growth and means to restore the country’s economy [38:49]
- Why is Niko choosing to invest in more European companies this time? [40:42]
- What current tech trends are Niko keeping an eye on? [42:04]
- Closing remarks [44:31]