Venture capital firm Sequoia Capital unveiled the names of 20 early-stage startups from India and Southeast Asia it has signed on as part of the second cohort of its Surge accelerator programme, with at least six startups in the batch at pre-launch stage, highlighting that “no stage is too early for Surge.”
Some 80 percent of Surge 02 startups have come onboard with co-investors, collectively raising upwards of $45 million in Surge rounds, according to Sequoia, which in January launched its Surge accelerator programme with the view to helping young startups with their early-stage choices, over two cohorts per year.
“We are thrilled to welcome in Surge 02 a deeply committed and passionate group of founders who are solving a wide range of problems across diverse set of industry verticals, including consumer internet, edtech, agritech, clean energy, social commerce, fintech, SaaS, robotic, and DTC brands,” Sequoia India, said in a statement.
During the four-month-long Surge 02 programme, each cohort will receive first-hand exposure to startups and trends in the global technology markets, along with mentorship support from accomplished founders, business leaders, and technologists.
“When we launched Surge at the start of 2019, we noted that it’s never too early to talk to Sequoia – and that no stage is too early for Surge. We’re doubling down on that with Surge 02… And we are incredibly excited to take the very first steps on their journey with them,” Sequoia said in a statement.
In the nine months since its launch, Surge has grown into a community of more than 80 founders from 37 startups, spread across six countries and from more than 10 industry verticals.
The programme today boasts more than 50 mentors and speakers, with over dozens of co-investors, including angels and funds, supporting Surge startups.
Here’s the full list of the 20 startups of Sequoia Surge 02.
Founders: Bahadir Ozdemir and Duran Akcaylier
Launched: March 2019
Airalo, the world's first eSIM store, provides travelers connectivity and freedom through access to over 100 eSIMs from around the world at the most affordable, local rates.
Airalo was founded in Singapore in March 2019 by Bahadir Ozdemir and Duran Akcaylier. Bahadir is a serial entrepreneur with a background in shipping and telecommunications. His past startups include Wossco, a Foodpanda for ship supplies and Sim4Crew, a global MVNO for sailors. Duran has experience in developing high traffic web applications, together with building and managing development teams in both India and Turkey.
The eSIM, better known as embedded SIM, is now built into the latest versions of numerous smartphones, tablets and PCs, giving users the option of having multiple data plans on one device without changing their physical SIM card. Airalo has partnered with hundreds of the world's leading telcos to offer travellers access to local and global eSIMs.
Airalo aims to remove the stress people face in researching and seeking out the best roaming deal. The company's vision is to help travellers stay connected, globally, while keeping it simple, affordable and hassle-free.
Founders: Daya Rai, Jitender Bedwal, Mahesh Jakhotia, Nukul Upadhye and Nikhil Tripathi
Launched: May 2019
Co-investors: Omdiyar Network, Omnivore Partners and angels (Better Capital, Nipun Mehra)
Bijak is a B2B trade platform for the agricultural sector in India that enables traders, wholesalers and food processors to keep a ledger of their transactions, access transparent pricing, optimise logistics and improve their working capital cycles.
Bijak was founded in January 2019 by Nukul Upadhye, Mahesh Jakhotia, Jitender Bedwal, Daya Rai and Nikhil Tripathi who, together, have deep experience spanning a range of fields including agri-tech, finance, consulting and SaaS. The app was launched in May.
Bijak brings accountability and transparency in the agricultural value chain through a buyer/seller rating system that’s based on real time transaction data. Users on the platform can leverage those ratings to identify and trade with reliable counterparts. Bijak’s approach of enabling the existing players in the value chain underscores the company’s vision to be a trusted partner of the agriculture commerce community.
Most commodity traders refer to invoice details as Bijak, and that is where the app derives its name from. The app, which is highly customised for agriculture commodity traders, is available in a number of local languages and uses the same terminology that’s typically used in major wholesale markets (known as mandis).
Founders: Arpit Rajpurohit and Jayesh Rajpurohit
Launched: January 2018
Co-investors: Angels (Aakash Goel, Anuj S, Meghna Agarwal, Navin Dhanuka, Ramakant Sharma)
Brick&Bolt is an e-commerce platform that uses cutting-edge technology and state-of-the-art systems and processes to make home and commercial construction absolutely simple, transparent and reliable for customers.
Brick&Bolt was founded in January 2018 by Jayesh and Arpit Rajpurohit. Jayesh is a graduate of IIT-R, where he studied Civil Engineering and then went on to spend the next decade in companies like Ariba and BWin, designing and developing scalable systems. Arpit is a technologist at heart and has spent time at companies like Amazon and Ola.
Usually the entire experience of construction – from finding the right professionals, to the right price and the optimal timelines – tends to be opaque and a huge drain on resources and time. Brick&Bolt’s tech-based construction platform makes this process seamless by connecting customers to a curated set of service providers, enabling transparent pricing, managing projects to ensure adherence to approved quality & timelines and also levying penalties on the service providers in case of any delay. The process is augmented by an AI based engine predicting the work schedules and managing quality and progress of projects using computer vision.
Founders: Alex Feng, Damon Yue and Matt Li
Launched: July 2019
Chilibeli is a community-based social commerce platform that connects farmers, suppliers and consumers through the company’s network of agents to bring fresh, quality products and produce to every household, at affordable prices.
Chilibeli was founded in Singapore in May 2019 by Alex Feng, Damon Yue and Matt Li, who have experience spanning Alibaba, Lazada, BCG and Accenture. The company launched its first market, in Indonesia, in July.
Chilibeli empowers farmers and its network of agents – many of whom are housewives who are active in their neighbourhood community – to earn extra income with ease and flexibility. By streamlining the end to end supply chain, Chilibeli aims to help more local farmers, agents and consumers benefit from the social economy.
Founders: Bhaswat Agarwal, Mukul Rustagi
Launched: January 2018
Co-investors: Blume Ventures and angels (Alvin Tse, Kunal Shah)
Classplus, is a mobile OS that lets coaching institutes take their brick and mortar setups online. In India, tutors are often the primary channel for external supplementary academic support. 70M+ students in India take tutoring every year with over 750k+ coaching institutes and 1M+ tutors driving $21B annual cash-flow to India’s education sector.
Classplus was launched in 2018 by Mukul Rustagi and Bhaswat Agarwal. Mukul is an IIT Roorkee alumni of 2013, following which he pursued derivatives' trading across the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Bhaswat is an NSIT alumni of 2013 and spent a couple of years in Microsoft India Education as a tech-strategist for their learning-based products. Friends from school, this is Mukul and Bhaswat’s second venture together.
Classplus aims to streamline this massive but fragmented market, by helping tutors run all their communication, payments, assessments and online learning programmes on a full-stack mobile solution that doubles up as their online content repository. They also act as a new-age digital distribution platform for education content and products, enabling tutors to set up e-commerce channels that make video content and online assessments available to students.
With 1500+ coaching centres and 250k+ students across 50+ Indian cities using Classplus, they have become the category leader within 18 months of launch.
Launched: September 2018
Founders: Alok Pathak, Michael Sayre and Ruchit Rami
Cognicept, which believes robots and humans can work together for a better future, helps robotics companies get their products out of the lab and into the wilds of warehouses, sidewalks, and hospitals.
The company was founded in Singapore in 2018 by Michael Sayre, Ruchit Rami and Alok Pathak. Michael, a robotics engineer, is a third-time founder with over 11 years’ experience in developing and deploying robotics systems. Ruchit has a background in software development and data analytics, and Alok has expertise in IoT, robotics and communications protocols.
Cognicept provides Human-in-the-loop (HITL) error handling with telerobotic intervention technology that allows human operators to step in and guide their customers’ robots remotely. The company’s goal is to make it easier and more economical for customers to deploy robots by reducing errors and down time. Their supervised autonomy tools and services make unpredictable applications reliable and enable new use cases for robots.
Founders: Mohit Yadav, Rahul Yadav
Launched: August 2018
Freewill, launched in August 2018, is the first beauty company in India to create custom hair products based on each individual’s unique requirements, lifestyle habits, and environmental conditions. A user can visit their site to take an online consultation. Freewill’s proprietary algorithm then analyses over 1.7 billion formulations to create exclusive, custom-made formulas for each user from up to 68 high-impact ingredients. Created from scratch in their own labs, the collection includes shampoos, conditioners and hair serums, all freshly made-to-order, prepared from natural ingredients and shipped to the customers’ doorsteps.
The company was founded by Mohit and Rahul Yadav and is led by a team of tech entrepreneurs and former R&D heads at Estée Lauder & L’Oréal with 40 years of rich experience in the beauty industry. Mohit has 14 years of experience in startups and investment banking. He was previously CEO, SE Asia for CarDekho and expanded their business in the region. Rahul was Head of Product at CarDekho, scaling it from 5M to 30M active users. They also co-founded MangoStreet.com, an e-commerce platform for children’s products that was acquired in 2012.
Company: Hevo Data
Launched: August 2017
Founders: Manish Jethani, Sourabh Agarwal
Co-investors: Chiratae Ventures, Tracxn Labs
Hevo is an Automated Unified Data Platform that helps companies understand their users and customers better. Using Hevo, companies can build a 360-degree view of their customers by combining data from multiple disparate data sources and applications including sales CRM, advertising channels, marketing tech, financial system software and customer support products.
The company was founded in 2017 by Manish Jethani and Sourabh Agarwal. Manish, an IIT grad, is a second-time entrepreneur who previously founded SpoonJoy, which was acquired by Grofers. Sourabh, also an IIT alumni, has played key roles in the technology teams at Flipkart, Myntra and Grofers.
Data and information stored in various data sources and applications are often siloed, and it’s difficult for companies to get a complete view of their customers and business metrics. For example, an online commerce company that wants to give priority preference to its most loyal customers to drive brand loyalty or pay special attention to a customer who was aggravated in the past would need to look for information in different systems that sit within their sales, marketing, support and operation functions.
Hevo, which is an automated self-serve platform that even non-technical users can operate, intelligently builds user and customers profiles across all data sources.
Hevo targets the global market, with operations based across Bangalore, India and San Francisco, USA. The company is currently working with customers across five countries.
Founders: Harsh Vakharia, Pankit Chheda, Sanket Shah
Launched: March 2019
Co-investors: Angels (Anand Chandrasekaran, Gokul Rajaram, Haresh Chawla, Miten Sampat)
InVideo is a DIY video creation platform that democratizes professional-quality video production in a quick and easy manner. InVideo’s powerful web platform allows anyone to create videos from scratch, convert existing pieces of static content into videos and even add automated voice overs in native languages.
InVideo was founded by Sanket Shah, Pankit Chheda and Harsh Vakharia in late 2017 as an enterprise-grade video suite. The rich insights they gained in the B2B space helped them adapt the initial product for the consumer market. Subsequently, InVideo.io was launched as a state-of-the-art, consumer-first online platform in March 2019.
InVideo currently serves a community of 24,000+ engaged users from 145+ countries who have created videos in 75+ languages. With a focus on global markets and a customer base that is growing by 10% every week, their goal is to make it to a million users by 2020.
Their mission is to build the world’s best video creation platform. The metric they are most proud of is their customer NPS, which is 61 and only improving.
Founders: Ratnesh Ray, Siddharth Verma, Varun Deshpande
Co-investors: ConsenSys Ventures, Dragonfly Capital, Polychain Capital and angels (Amrish Rau)
Juno is neo bank that aims to give users across the world a high yield account to grow their savings. Going live in select markets next year, Juno is taking a radical approach towards creating an open and global banking system for everyone, regardless of their location or income.
Juno founders Varun Deshpande, Siddharth Verma and Ratnesh Ray are also the creators of Nuo protocol and had earlier founded BeeWise, an alternate credit analytics platform which was acquired in 2017 by Aditya Birla Money.
At its core, Juno is built using Ethereum blockchain and Nuo protocol which enables decentralised lending and borrowing of digital assets to earn a high yield on stable coins like USDC. Juno is leveraging these assets to build the next generation of global decentralised financial and banking services (DeFi).
Developed countries including the US, Europe, Japan and Singapore traditionally offer between 0.01% and 0.10% on checking and savings accounts. Juno customers will get a 5.5% annual interest on their savings with no lock-in or hidden fees. They will also be able to send and receive money anywhere in the world without any intermediaries and at no cost. Additionally, the company plans to introduce a debit card with a partner bank in the future.
Founders: Anurakt Jain, Ishita Verma
Launched: August 2019
Co-investors: AngelList, Better Capital, EMVC Fintech Fund, Tracxn Labs and angels.
Angel Investors: Abhijit Gupta, Amit Gupta, Amiya Pathak, Bhuvan Srinivasan, Karumbaiah BK, Naveen Tewari, Nishant Verman, Nitin Sharma, Piyush Shah, Kunal Shah, Ram Sahasranam, Ramakant Sharma, Ram Sahasranam, Rajesh Yabaji, Sachin Maheshwari, Shailendra Singh (MarketsandMarkets), Shradha Sharma, Dr. SV Mahadevan
Klub is a fintech play providing growth financing to high-affinity brands. Klub’s investment platform, which utilizes financial innovation, community engagement and deep data-driven analytics, provides skin-in-the-game growth capital to entrepreneurs of much-loved brands across sectors.
The startup is currently in stealth-mode and is based out of Singapore and India.
Klub is founded by Anurakt Jain and Ishita Verma. Anurakt, who is from IIT-D and Wharton, was an intrapreneur at InMobi building Glance and TruFactor and also had stints as an investor with Vertex and DFJ. Ishita, who is an IIM-B and LSR grad, was previously with Snyder UAE, worked as an investment banker with Unitus Capital and in institutional equities at Kotak.
Company: Log9 Materials
Founders: Akshay Singhal, Kartik Hajela and Pankaj Sharma
Launched: April 2015
Co-investor: Exfinity Venture Partners
Log9 Materials is a nanotechnology company that aims to revolutionize the energy sector with an innovative zero emission, low-cost aluminium-air fuel cell.
Log9, which has over 16 global patents, was incubated at IIT-Roorkee in 2015 by Akshay Singhal and Kartik Hajela, who graduated with respective degrees in metallurgical and chemical engineering. The two set up Log 9 Materials in Bangalore in 2017. Pankaj Sharma, a scientist with over 17 years’ experience in drug discovery, nano-biotechnology and molecule simulations, serves as a Co-Founding Advisor.
Log9’s mission is to create a clean, circular energy economy. The company has developed a fuel cell prototype that can power an automobile for 1,000 km with zero waste and zero emissions. The battery’s novel air-cathode selectively allows air to pass through to the electrolyte, reacting with the aluminium placed inside a chamber to generate electricity. The by-product, aluminium hydroxide, is deposited at the bottom of the fuel-cell in a powder form that can be recycled at a smelter and reused in the same battery again. Fresh aluminium in a rectangular ‘cassette-like’ form is put into the fuel-cell, a process that takes less than five minutes.
Existing Lithium batteries, in contrast, can power a car for 200 km, take two hours to recharge and typically wind up in a landfill after three or so years. The lack of dependence on lithium, cobalt and costly charging infrastructure would help Log9 resolve some of the largest bottlenecks in EV adoption today.
Founders: Hideki Fujita, Roy Lim
Launched: August 2015
Co-Investors: Auric Pacific Group, DSG Consumer Partners
PerroMart is an O2O pet care company with a mission to help strengthen the bond between pets and humans for a lifetime. Pet ownership is rising sharply in Southeast Asia, tracking the rise in income and spending power across the region.
PerroMart was founded by Roy Lim, who owns three dogs and has experience working in finance and operating a local retail and Hideki Fujita, who has invested in several successful startups, including SMS CO Ltd., FullSpeed Inc., Rentracks Co Ltd. and GoGoVan.
PerroMart, which started in August 2015 in Singapore as an e-commerce platform, is moving to an omnichannel business model that will allow the company to reach the larger proportion of Southeast Asia’s pet owners who still shop offline, and add new services - such as vet care and grooming - to cover the entire value chain.
Founder: Indus Khaitan
Co-investors: Nexus Venture Partners
Quolum is a SaaS product – set up as an application to better manage risk and compliance for enterprises.
Currently in stealth, Quolum is founded by Indus Khaitan. Prior to Quolum, Indus built Bitzermobile, which was acquired by Oracle. He also ran growth at Chargebee. Originally from Dhanbad, Jharkhand, India, Indus now lives in the San Francisco Bay area.
Company: Rheo TV
Founders: Prakash Kumar, Saksham Keshri
Launched: August 2019
Co-investors: LightSpeed Venture Partners and angels (Dinesh Kumar, Gaurav Munjal, Hemesh Singh, Mahesh Narayanan, Phanindra Sama, Roman Saini)
Rheo TV is a game streaming platform that aims to make professional game streaming a mainstream career option in India, by building an entertainment ecosystem that drives engagement and monetization. Its mission is to bring gaming into the same league as that of cricket and Bollywood in India.
Rheo TV was set up in August 2019 by Saksham Keshri and Prakash Kumar. Saksham has built teams and products from scratch at multiple fast-growing startups including Unacademy and JioSaavn. Prakash previously worked as a product engineer for Cuemath and Unacademy and has experience in building video platforms that have scaled to serve millions of users.
Today, India has nearly 200 million active gamers on smartphones. Ubiquitous internet infrastructure and affordable smartphones is leading to an increasing popularity of multi-player online gaming in India and Rheo TV is tapping into this phenomenon.
Launched: April 2019
Founders: Sabrina Soewatdy, Sarah Soewatdy, Wei-Chuan Chew, Xu-Zonne Ho and YC Ng
Co-investors: Golden Gate Ventures, SeedPlus, Shunwei Capital, and angels (David Tsang)
Rukita is an experience-focused co-living brand with a mission to make living better for urbanites in Asia’s fast-growing emerging economies, starting in Indonesia.
Rukita was founded in Jakarta in 2019 by Sabrina Soewatdy, Wei-Chuan Chew, Sarah Soewatdy, Xu-Zonne Ho and YC Ng - a team with deep roots in real estate, technology, hospitality and finance.
The company works with real estate owners and partners to transform potential assets in dense and pricey urban areas into fully-serviced Rukita Living experience for white-collar professionals and students. Rukita ensures high occupancy, happy tenants and improved asset yields for landlords by ensuring consistency of quality along with creation of spaces and experiences designed to build a sense of community.
Founders: Feida “Fredy” Liu, Rizky Maulana and Yongming He
Launched: August 2019
Storie is a one-stop lifestyle community platform that answers consumer questions with useful and inspiring content and user-generated reviews.
Storie was founded by Fredy Liu, Rizky Maulana, and Yongming He, who have extensive experience across many MNC digital companies focusing on the Indonesian lifestyle market and have a deep understanding of Indonesian consumers. The company launched in August 2019 with an initial focus on the beauty category. Within just one month, Storie was Indonesia’s No. 1 App in the Beauty Category on Google Play.
Storie aims to empower Indonesian people to make better product choices through the best input and most honest and inspiring experiences. Users can search and share first-hand experiences, photos and frank reviews to help community members make the right decision about lifestyle products and services.
Launched: August 2017
Founders: Arun Lodhi, Bimal Kartheek Rebba, Prashant Sachan, Pulkit Agarwal
Co-investors: Beenext, Sprout Ventures, WEH Ventures
Trell is building India’s largest lifestyle-community platform for the next 500 million internet users. The founding team consists of IIT Bombay Alumni Prashant Sachan (Ex-Microsoft, Samsung), Pulkit Agarwal (ex-Qualcomm), Arun Lodhi and NITIE Alumni Bimal Kartheek Rebba (ex-ITC).
Today, there is a dearth of meaningful and relatable content that helps Indian language internet users with lifestyle discovery and purchase decision making. The community on Trell shares original videos and blogs on new ideas, experiences, product recommendations and reviews with each other in multiple Indian languages. Trell, which will enable its creators to monetize their content in the future, aims to be India’s largest community-commerce platform by 2020.
Trell is currently present in 7 lifestyle categories like beauty, personal care, fashion, cooking, movies and web series reviews, gadgets, and travel. The app recently crossed 2 million monthly active users and is growing at 30 percent MoM.
Founders: Navneet Kaur, Shivam Sharma
Launched: November 2018
Co-investors: Global Founders Capital, Kindred Ventures and angels (Alan Jiang)
Founded in November 2018 by Navneet Kaur and Shivam Sharma, both early stage Uber employees, Yours is a direct-to-consumer personalised skincare brand that uses technology to do personalisation at scale. All their products are made in Switzerland and are clean, cruelty-free, and environmentally friendly.
With Yours, users can take the guesswork out of the equation, and modify and adapt their skincare as their lifestyle changes. The process is seamless; users complete an online skin assessment by uploading a selfie and answering questions about their skin, lifestyle, and environment. Data from the selfie is extracted through computer vision algorithms and combined with inputs from the questionnaire; the complete data set is then fed into a proprietary personalisation model that decodes skin needs. Finally, active ingredients from Yours’ ever-evolving ingredient dataset are mapped to create a personalised skincare regimen for each user.
Yours is a subscription service wherein the regimen is automatically updated every two months based on changing weather conditions, lifestyle and skin needs of the user. Going forward, the company will further invest heavily in computer vision and machine learning to improve personalisation at scale.
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