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Niko Bonatsos is the Managing Director of General Catalyst.

Managing Director, General Catalyst

Niko Bonatsos

Niko Bonatsos

General Catalyst

How is innovation different in startups?

The greatest advantage startups have over other companies or the public sector is that they are insanely focused on finding product-market fit. This is accomplished by virtue of doing extensive customer devel-opment and focusing on building a tightly focused product for a very narrow set of customers in the beginning. Startups normally lack the legacy (and the experience) that often clouds the judgment of the larger players and the incumbents. As such, startups can afford to try things differently in a more audacious manner; perhaps often attempting new ideas that sound stupid, controversial, or "this will never work; we tried it 10 years ago" to the "domain expert" of the field.

Startups that are the most likely to succeed in finding true market fit are often founded by tech-savvy founders. Most often, they are also trying to solve a problem for themselves. This provides them with the right level of intuition and shorter feedback loops to rapidly iterate on the product front. Young upstarts win over their larger and better-funded competitors thanks to their ability to innovate quickly. The very best tech founders we work with at the early stage, release new or kill existing product features every couple of weeks at least! Their strong focus and lack of stringent processes required to be approved by corporate attorneys let them operate in this often semi-chaotic environment! [ ... ]


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