I joined Sequoia because I liked what it stood for. Despite the track record of helping portfolio companies succeed, I didn’t see chest thumping about what had been achieved.
At Sequoia, we are not pulling in different directions across different geos. The opportunities may be different in each of them but the end goals are the same everywhere.
I am inspired by exceptional individuals who are challenging established giants in large markets and building exciting consumer and healthcare businesses.
We look at our work as a global thought process with local execution. We need people who are thinking about global trends, sharing knowledge and thoughts and then acting on the ground very, very locally.
I would like entrepreneurs to know investors are not the vultures they are made out to be. For instance, Sequoia is a shareholder and many times active participant, but is not there to drive the car.
We like to stay on the sidelines and cheer for our companies as they succeed. To quietly provide all that we can in terms of resources and support when they need it.
I think we could get better at empathy, at understanding the entrepreneur. It is critical to understand that while we work with multiple founders, they usually are working on one big idea.
We work with a diverse set of entrepreneurs at Sequoia. That’s a function of the types of businesses we partner with.
I usually look for the challenger, the underdog who’s not fearful of the competition around him. He is out to do things differently and that is what will help him break through.
To watch a concept or a product idea evolve into a thriving company is what we are here for. To be able to say: “I met this company when the signboard was going up; now it’s a Rs. 1000 crore business.” That’s a real pleasure.
I have evolved in my thinking over the years. At multiple stages I felt that I had figured out the key to building successful businesses only to be proven wrong. Now I know that there is always more to learn.
When things are not going according to plan (with companies), we try to adopt an advisory tack. We sit down together and look at ways to solve the issue.
But it doesn’t help to breathe down their necks. All we have in this relationship is mutual trust and respect based on a shared philosophy. Why break that?
In this business, there are only two things that really count. One is discipline. The second is achievement. Both are measured against the standards you set for yourself.
If my sons wanted to get into the venture capital business, I would encourage them to be entrepreneurs first. Successful entrepreneurs can be more successful VCs.
My advice to budding entrepreneurs: Follow your passion. There is no substitute for hard work; choose a large market and find a few good people to work with you.