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The VC – entrepreneur relationship can be a true partnership on all fronts when the founder trusts the VC and wants to capitalize on the available support

GV and Byju talk about what makes this relationship so fulfilling.

Byju Raveendran
BYJU's

Sequoia got us. They understood the motivation behind the business. We had made tremendous progress in the four months since our first meeting and that was what got them excited. Everyone, including Doug Leone, showed genuine interest in the product and spent time on it. They didn’t try to pigeonhole us, compare us to existing products in the market. And the kind of questions they asked got us excited. They knew we were doing something different.

GV Ravishankar
Sequoia

During our second meeting with Byju we caught on to the fact that there were a couple of things he was doing that were unique, that were allowing him to scale and acquire customers. He didn’t see himself as an ed-tech company. His primary mission was to help students learn better. With him, it was always education first - with technology as the enabler. His go-to market strategy was very well crafted.

Byju

Till date, nobody has really disrupted learning. There is always a lot of activity in re-skilling, upskilling and other peripheral areas for a higher age group - but nothing significant in the group we are targeting. It is a big challenge to change the way an eleven year old learns. But if you can do that, you can have big impact.

GV

We quickly realized that what’s great about Byju is that he’s very clear on what he does and doesn’t know. He looks at us as partners – and to his credit, is very open-minded about us pitching in. He asked for our help with tech and marketing and was great at absorbing the recommendations of the Sequoia team. Founders like Byju are curious, keen and learn really fast.

Byju

I would say that we were receptive to help and very quick to learn but the support we got from Sequoia’s functional teams was exceptional. A few months into the funding, we launched a large-scale advertising drive. It was a success largely because of Sequoia’s support. As an organization, we had no prior experience or domain expertise in branding, marketing or media buying. We really capitalized on Sequoia’s resources during this time. We got the campaign launched in record time and this was a big factor in helping us grow exponentially during that period. The business model got a big validation with that campaign. We wouldn’t have been able to pull it off so successfully on our own.

GV

Byju is kind enough to talk about the Sequoia effect and how life changed for him after the term sheet. I think our impact was possible because of the understanding and trust we were able to establish from the outset.

Byju

The success we’ve seen is not just because of our intent. It’s also due to the support we’ve received from Sequoia. The Sequoia impact has been tremendous. For example, Roy has helped us build a rock star tech team. None of us are tech guys, we couldn’t have build even half of it. And today we have one of the best tech teams in our segment, growing it from twenty people to a hundred in just three months.

GV

Byju is a phenomenal mix – strong and confident. He doesn’t tell people ‘this is how it’s done’. He tells them ‘if I can do it, so can you’. And this rubs off on the rest of the team. They go after difficult goals in a very focused way. They don’t shoot for the moon in the hope that they will reach the stars. They actually intend to make it to the moon.

Byju

We try to get the best out of people without making it seem like work. We are all dreamers – but we also act fast. And when you talk to people at Sequoia, including GV, Raja and Atit - you can tell they believe in our dream, they are as excited as us. The Sequoia team has been like an extended top management for us. The way we have made the partnership work so far has been phenomenal. I have often told GV that if we continue working as a team, there is no limit to what we can achieve.

BYJU's
BYJU's is a supplementary learning company with a disruptive product in the K-12 and test prep segment.
Milestones
  • Founded 2008
  • Partnered 2015
Founders
  • Byju Raveendran
Investment Advisors