[TechSparks 2020] 'Sequoia Capital sees itself as a startup and is living founders' dreams vicariously': Shailendra Singh
Shailendra Singh needs no introduction in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The Sequoia Capital MD is often credited for the fund's success in India in the last 15 years.
At TechSparks 2020, India's most influential startup-tech conference, Shailendra spilled the beans on what keeps Sequoia agile, inspired, and continuously successful, in a virtual fireside chat with YourStory Founder and CEO Shradha Sharma.
The secret sauce, he shared, is in thinking like a startup, and not a VC firm.
"What we realised is you have to embrace change and constantly evolve to stay relevant. We tell ourselves to think like a startup. Think of Surge as a product and understand how to innovate, how to grow, how to create network effects," he said.
"We imagine ourselves as a tech startup that happens to be in the VC business. Like founders, we go all in, be hungry, work crazily hard, and make a dent. We’re trying to do the same things ourselves as we counsel our founders to do. We're learning from the best," he added.
Sequoia Capital MD Shailendra Singh in conversation with Shradha Sharma at TechSparks 2020
Shailendra spoke about being a "big believer in serendipity" and how that often determines the trajectory of a firm. "You can’t have strategy doing the work all the time. You've to let the odds and serendipity take over sometimes," he said.
He shared that despite some founders' "perceptions" about Sequoia Capital and its expectations from startups, the fund is "really non-commercial on the inside".
"At Sequoia, everybody feels lucky to get a chance to work with founders. We live the founders’ dream vicariously. We wake up every day knowing that we have to earn our place, and not take it for granted. We have to win a founder’s trust all over again," he said.
Shailendra also revealed that he makes it a point to meet "only founders" and skips all other meetings with investment bankers, business development folks, headhunters, legal personnel, and so on.
TechSparks - YourStory's annual flagship event - has been India's largest and most important technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship summit for over a decade, bringing together entrepreneurs, policymakers, technologists, investors, mentors, and business leaders for stories, conversations, collaborations, and connections that matter. As TechSparks 2020 goes all virtual and global in its 11th edition, we want to thank you for the tremendous support we've received from all of you throughout our journey and give a huge shoutout to our sponsors of TechSparks 2020.