“The time for CEE Outliers” Panel Discussion with Niko Bonatsos

More than 12 Unicorns (startups with a value greater than $1B) with a combined value of €30Β, have been created over the past 5 years in CEE countries like Estonia, Poland and Romania. This has generated the interest of an increasing number of Venture Capital Funds, searching for investment opportunities in the region. Specifically, startup investments from non-European VCs, into CEE have doubled since 2015, creating a very promising pipeline of rising stars. What’s behind this investment surge and what opportunities does this create for Greek businesses? These questions were answered during an event organized by Endeavor on Thursday, July 25th 2019. 

At the panel discussion: “The time for CEE Outliers”, Niko Bonatsos, Managing Director of General Catalyst was the main speaker. Along with his co-panelist Alexia Bonatsos, founder of Dream Machine, he focused on the opportunities and forces leading the rise of CEE Outliers, the companies that have an outstanding success and that can therefore affect the entire economy. 

In an interesting conversation on relationship building between an investor and an investee, participated Zaya Kadyrova, Principal, Technology Venture Capital at EBRD and John Papadakis, member of the Endeavor network, CEO & Founder at Pollfish.

The outcome of the conversation was that an investor must be very careful when approaching a company at an early stage, whereas every entrepreneur needs to be fully aware of his company’s financials. In addition, entrepreneurs must know well the companies included in an investor’s portfolio, while also being aware of peculiar behaviors, such as the quick signing of a contract. John Papadakis claimed that the relationship between an investor and an entrepreneur cannot be built over strategy, but it’s organic and it’s based on trust. 

Niko Bonatsos said that the best advice an entrepreneur can receive won’t come from investors, even successful ones, but from his customers, and he pointed out that anyone trying to launch a startup in a small ecosystem must find a good, supportive partner, that will lead him to success. Alexia Bonatsos claimed that there is no recipe for a company’s success and advised entrepreneurs tο benefit from privileged people around them. 

“Now it’s the time to fulfill the real expectations, as we have what it takes to grow companies, more than ever before. Once a great success story comes up, the organic growth and appetite will follow.” said the main speaker, Niko Bonatsos

Endeavor’s Managing Director, Panagiotis Karampinis stated that: “We are going through a period of great mobility of high-tech companies, with great results for the region. This is a huge opportunity for Greece, as well as the perfect chance for Endeavor, whose mission is to unite the most talented entrepreneurs around the world. Greece is ready to welcome the success story that will change the course of the economy.”

Endeavor is an international non-profit organization, which selects and supports the most promising companies around the world with the help of the most prominent business leaders and investors globally. Since 1997, more than 1900 Endeavor Entrepreneurs from more than 1200 companies have been selected globally, who have created more than 3M jobs and in 2018 generated more than €20 in revenues. Since 2012, when Endeavor started operating in Greece, we support 24 Greek companies. 

Niko Bonatsos is the Managing Director of General Catalyst, a venture capital firm with approximately $5 billion in total capital raised. Working from the firm’s San Francisco Bay Area offices, Niko focuses his investment strategy on finding first-time technology founders with strong product instincts, a robust appetite for learning, and a desire to create innovations with the potential to benefit millions of consumers or business end users. Prior to joining General Catalyst, Niko attended Stanford University as a Fulbright Scholar earning an MS in Management Science and Engineering. He has studied in several countries earning additional degrees in Manufacturing Engineering & Management and Electrical Engineering & Computer Science and worked as a part of the R&D team for Yokogawa Electric Corporation, in Japan.