Techcircle Startup Walkabout Pit Stop I – Sequoia Capital India

11 Aug, 2015

We began 'Techcircle Startup Summit 2015-Delhi Edition' today with Walkabout- a unique initiative where we arrange visits to offices of prominent investors, startups and companies.

Entrepreneurs get to rub shoulders with each other, pitch their startups to venture capitalists and interact with the who's who of technology world.

This time around, participants were ushered into offices of industry luminaries such as Sequoia Capital, Google India, Helion Advisors, MobiKwik, Jabong, Indian Angel Network and Micromax.

Pit Stop I – Sequoia Capital India, The Grand Hotel 

Think Sequoia and you can visualise a workplace buzzing with frenetic deal making activity. However, we were enchanted by the calm air of confidence that envelops the base of India's best known startup backers.

The optimism was not lost on our delegates.

Even before the event started, the delegates were informally seen introducing their startups and brainstorming over the do's and dont's of being a nimble entrepreneur.

From startups that seek to disrupt e-commerce to startups that help other young ventures, all 13 candidates at the Techcircle Walkabout tallied notes.

The session began with Sequoia delving into its history. The VC firm explained how its investment strategy has changed over the generations. From investing in enterprise businesses to focusing on internet based companies, Sequoia has dealt with a gamut of companies to build an expansive portfolio of over 100 firms.

Sequoia believes that Asia is the epicenter of future investments. The brightest spots in the tech world would emerge from this continent and not the US. "One of the first things to be done from an investment standpoint is to have presence in the target country. You cannot take the local flavour out of it," a Sequoia executive, who did not wish to be quoted, said.

What followed was an array of questions put forth by the budding entrepreneurs. On being asked why Sequoia would put money in competing firms such as PepperTap and Grofers, Sequoia pointed towards the difference in product positioning and business models of these companies. Moreover, the VC firm does not have control over how the startups pan out post the early-stage funding.

For any startup to scale up, product design is of utmost importance. Sequoia conducts regular hackathons and designathons where CTOs of portfolio companies mentor new developers.

So, what makes a startup tick? Sequoia's answer: An idea that solves a pain-point which affects a huge market. Investors aid a startup by providing guidance and support, but do not control the company.

Finally, the founders pitched their startups to Sequoia. It was followed by feedback and networking rounds with fellow entrepreneurs. There was enough and more 'gyaan' on offer.