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GV Ravishankar
GV Ravishankar

I grew up in a small town in Southern India. There was nothing in my family DNA to suggest that I would one day end up in the company of entrepreneurs.

I should really have been an engineer, coding in some part of the world. Back in college in the late 90s in the days before Hotmail, a friend and I designed a system to access campus email from outside.

I’m interested in how technology can help drive efficiencies, reduce costs and improve access in consumer and healthcare markets.

I have always enjoyed discussing new ideas. When the headhunter described my role in Sequoia, it sounded like somebody would pay me for what I liked to do on weekends with friends.

I was probably the first in my batch to quit McKinsey. I was told that it would be a ‘one way road’ out of the company. But I was sure about joining Sequoia; it just sounded right.

The opportunity to meet talented people who can tell us what the world is going to be like and give us a sneak preview of what’s coming? That’s fascinating.

Today’s entrepreneurs are thinking global, assembling world-class teams. There is a sense of confidence today that didn’t exist a decade ago.

The more approachable and genuine we are, the more likely it is that people will want to work with us. We should seek to inspire people, not scare them.

When I hear a new business pitch, I look for clarity of thought. Are you clear about the problem you are trying to solve?

Somehow people feel they can only come to us at a certain stage in their growth. The myth I would personally like to dispel is the idea that some companies are ‘too small for Sequoia.’

Have enough conviction in your idea but don’t close your mind to new ones.

I tell entrepreneurs to remain focused. It’s way too easy to get tempted by every opportunity that seems adjacent.

The people who win are razor focused on the problem they are solving and want to be the best at it.

Firm ahead of individuals. That’s the Sequoia philosophy that most resonates with me. Nobody’s too big and nobody’s idea is too small.

What Sequoia offers entrepreneurs is clearly not just money. That’s a commodity. What you get are people who are also dreamers and are ready to roll up their sleeves to work with you.

We may not see the potential at first but we reserve the right to change our minds. We love to be proven wrong and to have a chance to re-engage.

There are many things that keep me up at night. I worry about becoming complacent, about not working hard enough.

In this business you can get lucky but you can’t get lucky long-term. It’s important to keep meeting people and looking for new ideas.

Warren Buffet once said - “There comes a time when you ought to start doing what you want. Take a job that you love. You will jump out of bed in the morning. I think you are out of your mind if you keep taking jobs that you don't like because you think it will look good on your resume. Isn't that a little like saving up sex for your old age?”

That’s how I feel about entrepreneurship. Do it when you have the stomach for it. It only gets harder with age.

The best piece of advice I ever got - Don't stress over daily challenges. Just think of two difficult hours in the grand context of sixty years of work. How important is that likely to be?

My son wants to be an entrepreneur –My advice to him? Be fearless.