I’m a believer in what I call 21st century CRAVE (Curiosity, Range, Adaptability, Versatility, Eclectic) qualities. I have lived in 10 cities across the world in the last two decades. During this multi-stop journey, I’ve developed a deep interest in technology, economics, entrepreneurship, sports, music, politics, movies and human behaviour - and everything that sits at their intersection. My taste in music, food, movies has only widened with the expedition that life is. I have learned to believe that: A) In a world of accelerating change, the agile will thrive. It’s like playing a racing game (‘Need for Speed’ was the most popular when I was growing up) at the highest levels. Reaction time is very little; you gotta be sharp and quick. B) Combinatorial innovation (using multiple disparate ideas or technologies) is a powerful force. People who can creatively connect disjointed dots will create the most impact. Being curious and learning about multiple things sharpens combinatorial instincts.
I moved to the SF Bay Area to attend Stanford. It was a great time to be in the Silicon Valley. Watching what was happening in arguably the mecca of innovation inspired me with a crystal ball to imagine where India could be in the next few decades. Later, I joined Tencent and split my time between China and India. Mobile in these corridors, I have come to believe that technology will be the linchpin around which the future of our country will turn and move forward. Technology will have an outsized impact on India’s economy, more so than almost anywhere else in the world.
India is a unique market opportunity. Enough ink and bits have been wasted drawing parallels between India and the western world. What works here may not work elsewhere and vice-versa. I have seen the best of founders exercise a combination of prudence, patience and passion to succeed in India.
Founders are the architects of future, talent and capital are the raw materials and culture is the design. The phrase ‘tomorrow will be better than yesterday’ has become axiomatic in a growing country like India. That is because at any given point in time, someone, somewhere, is challenging the past, tinkering with the present and conjuring up the future. The founders that are most successful are the ones who can attract, motivate and retain the best people and capital; and the ones who think culture first.
I enjoy working with founders who are delusional dreamers, insanely ambitious and carry a unique vision for the future. I derive energy working with such founders who are attempting to turn things on their head in order to deliver a “fundamentally superior” experience for their customers or clients.
It’s exciting to look horizontally and cross-pollinate ideas and principles from one business to another. At Sequoia, we are fortunate to see a wide cross-section of sectors, companies and innovation, as well as work with founders who see the world in unique ways. It is immensely gratifying when something I learned from working with one founder can help another founder who’s in a different sector. I love to be this carrier. That’s probably the most exciting part of our job.