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Sequoia picks 8 Indian startups in first cohort for ‘Surge’ accelerator program


Three months after announcing its first early-stage accelerator program Surge, the venture capital firm Sequoia India has finally picked up the first cohort of startups.

Eight Indian startups, out of 17 startups, have been chosen for the first group under the accelerator program. These startups belonged from sectors including Travel and Hospitality, e-Commerce, Social Commerce, EdTech, Fintech, Consumer Brands, SaaS, HealthTech and B2B commerce.

Indian startups chosen for the programme include Azani Sports, Bulbul, Doubtnut, Flynote, Hippo Video, InterviewBit Academy, Khatabook and Skillmatics.

Under the accelerator program, each startup will get a $1.5 million seed capital and participation in a four-month program.

Apart from global immersive trips across Silicon Valley, China, Singapore and India, these startups will get mentorship from successful and accomplished founders and technology executives like Byju Raveendran, Freshwork’s Girish Mathrubootham, Mad Street Den’s Ashwini Asokan, Uber’s Amit Jain, WhatsApp’s Neeraj Arora, and Zomato’s Deepinder Goyal and OYO’s Ritesh Agarwal among several others.

They will also have access to Sequoia’s US-based Advance Management Programme (AMP), which had earlier backed giants like Google, WhatsApp, and PayPal.

Earlier, Sequoia planned to choose only about 20 startups in two cohorts in a year.

We met so many incredible startups that the number of companies in Surge grew to 17, said Sequoia India in a blog.

The VC firm claimed to receive 1570 startups applications from across India and Southeast Asia, which made the task difficult for them to pick only 10 startups, it added.

Surge will also support a curated selection of VCs, who could invest in the cohort.

In the last decade, Sequoia has emerged as a formidable VC firm in India. It has been known for backing post-seed and growth stage investment.

Till date, it has made over 200 investments in India and SEA. The investments include firms such as Prataap Snacks, Zilingo, Bira, Byju’s, One Championship, Zomato, Mu Sigma, Freshworks, Druva, Freecharge, Five Star Finance, Pine Labs, OYO Rooms, Practo, and JustDial among others.

In 2018, Sequoia India closed its sixth India fund, racking up $695 million. So far, it has raised a total of $1.5 billion. It is in talks to raise a separate fund of around $200 million for Surge. However, Sequoia hasn’t given any clue for

Surge is an interesting and first early-stage bet from the venture firm.

Early this month, Sequoia roped in Google India and South East Asia head Rajan Anandan for developing Surge into a top scale-up program. How he fares for the venture firm that witnessed back to back departure of managing director – including Gautam Mago and VT Bhardwaj last year, will be keenly watched.

Meanwhile, there is no doubt that with the rise in numbers of startups, the need for early-stage backing has also been an all-time high. The early stage funding has gone down in the last two years. Whether Sequoia acceleration program satiates that need and reaps dividend for itself in coming years will be interesting to observe.

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