Sequoia

Mohit Bhatnagar

  • Venture
“I believe the startup ecosystem has the power to solve India’s societal problems at scale. Founders who build successful businesses can also build the foundations for a better world.”

I grew up in Bombay and after my engineering degree went to the US for my Masters. My first job at Ericsson was building products, but I quickly realized what I really enjoyed was sales – bridging product with what the customer really wanted. Soon got restless and co-founded Brightpod – a mobile startup that failed in the 2001 crisis. The pain of communicating this to employees, investors, customers, and vendors stays with me.

I chose to return to India and work with Bharti just as the mobile industry was inflecting. We were like a start-up, building networks from scratch; the opportunities, the growth, and scale of impact were limitless.

Scaling Airtel to 100 million subscribers was exhilarating, but I missed the entrepreneurial energy of startups. The mobile Internet juggernaut was just beginning in India and I wanted to be a part of the industry disruption. This time I landed on the other side, and joined Sequoia India in 2006.

I have always felt like an ‘accidental VC’: I made a mid-career move from an operator role, and  I don’t have a blue-chip IIT/ Ivy League degree, unlike many of my illustrious peers. I’m driven by a burning desire to prove myself, every day.

I’m also grateful, every day, for the opportunity to help create enduring companies that generate large returns for the great causes that our Limited Partners – including universities, endowments and non profits – drive to create a positive impact in the world.

Building enduring companies is hard. There will be more bad days than good in the early years and it takes over 10 years of sustained effort to build anything of value. Personal motivation is the single biggest indicator of a founder’s ability to go long. Everyone has some innate, driving force that emerges from a crucial life learning – I want to understand that. For some it’s to leave a legacy, for others it’s to prove a point; others are simply pissed off about something that is broken in society.

The best founders are so out there, that their ambition ‘scares’ you. It almost doesn’t matter if they fail or not, it’s their willingness to swing big. It’s a good sign when I have left founder meetings inspired and muttering to myself “kuch toh bada banaeyga”.

The other trait that draws me to founders is their ability to build teams. There is a perennial war for talent and those who can influence the best folks to join their mission to change the world are more likely to win.

Finally, I am drawn to founders who want to impact lives by driving social change via their company’s success. In a country like India, we have the opportunity and responsibility to ensure that when we win, so does the community that nurtured us.

Get in touch with Mohit

Outdoors / Family / Royal Enfield / Giving Back

Press & Media

Current Companies

  • CARS24 is one of India's fastest-growing tech-enabled used car marketplaces.
    Partnered In

    2018

  • Circles.Life's digital products and no-contract, data-focused mobile plans are revolutionising the digital services industry through a customer-centric user journey.
    Partnered In

    2017

  • Citrus Payment is a comprehensive web and mobile payments solution for merchants and consumers.
    Partnered In

    2011

  • CleverTap empowers digital brands to increase customer retention and lifetime value with the help of data, personalisation, deep tech, and automation.
    Partnered In

    2015

  • DailyHunt enables consumers to access news and books in the language of their choice.
    Partnered In

    2014

  • Drip Capital is a Trade Finance company providing collateral-free post-shipment finance to Indian exporters with instant approvals and minimal documentation.
    Partnered In

    2017

  • Freshworks is a leading provider of cloud-based customer engagement software.
    Partnered In

    2016

  • Jupiter is a digital banking app that offers consumers smart insights based on their spending, as well as a range of new-age features to enable them to make sense of their finances.
    Partnered In

    2019

  • Knowlarity provides cloud telephony solutions to business enterprises.
    Partnered In

    2012

  • Meesho is a social commerce platform that helps both resellers and emerging brands build businesses using social media.
    Partnered In

    2018

  • Near is the largest location intelligence platform providing real-time information on places, people, and products.
    Partnered In

    2012

  • Octro specializes in making multi-player multi-platform social games.
    Partnered In

    2014

  • OneAssist provides health and financial service assistance and protection programs to consumers.
    Partnered In

    2011

  • OYO Rooms is India's largest branded chain of hotels offering standardised stay experiences at affordable prices.
    Partnered In

    2014

  • Twin Health combines advanced technology and medical science to heal the human metabolism. It invented the Whole Body Digital Twin™ to help reverse and prevent chronic metabolic diseases and physical health.
    Partnered In

    2021

  • Zomato aims to help consumers discover great places to eat across the globe.
    Partnered In

    2013