Meet the Mentors
Jessica Stephanie Jap
Siu Rui Quek
Shivani Maira Shankar
Shweta Rajpal Kohli
What's Sequoia Spark?
Sequoia Spark is a movement to inspire more women in India and Southeast Asia to become entrepreneurs. The four month long fellowship program includes a USD 100K equity-free grant and mentorship as well as a series of learning sessions & events, open to all female founders who want access to domain knowledge and a wider community.
What do I get access to as a Sequoia Spark Fellowship founder?
In addition to the USD 100K grant, as a Sequoia Spark founder, you will get access mentorship from Sequoia India and Southeast Asia’s founders and specialists across human capital, marketing, product, legal, and finance teams. Each founder will also be mapped to an investment advisor who will work with founders through the duration of the program.
To ensure that you can benefit and learn from Sequoia’s wider network, you will also get access to founder talks and deep-dive studio sessions that are part of the Spark program.
Learn more about the fellowship here.
What happens if I get selected for the program?
If selected for the program, you will spend structured 1:1 time over four months with a Sequoia investment advisor . In addition, you will get access mentorship from Sequoia India and Southeast Asia founders and Sequoia specialists across different disciplines.
What's the duration of the fellowship program?
This will be a four month-long fellowship program that includes regular check-ins with your investment advisor and mentorship from a curated set of industry experts and leading founders, as well as access to Sequoia specialists across hiring, marketing, product, legal and finance.
When does Spark kick off?
The applications for the cohort 02 are now closed.
In addition to the fellowship, we’ll have a series of sessions, both online and offline, open to all female founders and leaders who are interested to learn more about company-building. Follow us on social media for regular updates:
Instagram: @sequoia_india and @sequoiasurge_id
LinkedIn: Sequoia India, Sequoia Southeast Asia and Sequoia Spark LinkedIn group
I would love to apply for the grant – but I also have interest from various investors. Can they invest/ fund my startup alongside Spark's grant?
Yes. Like, Surge, the Sequoia Spark fellowship is open-architecture and we aim to collaborate with partners across the ecosystem. Seed funds, angels, VCs are welcome to participate.
What stake does Sequoia Capital India take in the company in return for the grant?
As part of the fellowship grant, Sequoia Capital India/Southeast Asia will not take a stake/ownership in the company. We do expect the selected founders to commit to spending time and attending the sessions to make the best of the program.
What happens after the program is over? Will Sequoia India continue to help the 15 companies that are a part of the cohort?
While each cohort is for four months, the Sequoia Spark community is for life. You can continue to stay connected to your Spark network, attend events and benefit from peer/community learnings after the fellowship ends.
Will there be follow-on funding from Sequoia Capital India or Surge?
Selection to the Sequoia Spark program does not guarantee follow-on funding from Sequoia Capital India/Southeast Asia or Surge.
How do I apply for a grant?
Applications for cohort 02 are now closed. We will update the dates for cohort 03 shortly.
What criteria do you look for in the Spark Fellowship applicants?
We are looking for incredible, missionary female founders who are leading recently-launched startups and are on a mission to create large-scale impact by solving hard problems across SaaS, FinTech, sustainability, climate tech, consumer tech, Web3, HealthTech, etc. for India and/or Southeast Asia markets.
Is there a timeline/deadline for applications?
The application deadline is 07th November, 2022 and the cohort launches in January 2023.
Can I apply if I only have an idea?/ At what stage can founders apply?
The Sequoia Spark program is specifically designed for early stage startups and is focused on empowering female founders with access to capital, mentorship knowledge, and networks to supercharge the early steps of their company building journey. We would love to see a business plan and your product/service details and thinking around GTM, even if you are yet to launch.
Do I need to be a full-time founder to apply for the program? What if I’m working somewhere and trying out my startup on the sidelines?
We are only accepting applications from full-time founders, or those about to start up, at this point.
Can I be a student and apply?
We accept applications from full-time founders only. However, if you can commit to running your startup full-time by the time the cohort, then you are welcome to apply.
What happens after I apply?
Your application will be reviewed by a group of investment advisors. If shortlisted, we will set up a virtual meeting with you (the founder) and your co-founders. if any. We will select the final list of startups post the meetings. You can expect to hear from us within three weeks of your application, regardless of the status.
Do I need a registered company?
Not right away. But if you are selected for the Sequoia Spark fellowship, your company will have to be registered in order to receive the grant.
I'm not based in India or Southeast Asia. Am I still eligible to apply for the fellowship?
You can apply if you are building for India and/or Southeast Asia markets. If selected for Spark 02, you are also required to be based out of India / Southeast Asia when the cohort kicks off in Jan 2023. We will be hosting a series of in-person meetups and sessions for Spark 02 to meet and connect with peers as well as the broader startup community, and being a part of these is critical for every founder in the cohort.
I am a female founder but my co-founder is male. Can I still apply?
Yes, you definitely can. However, you need to be an equal (or majority) shareholder in the business. Please note that if selected, the program will only be open to you.
We are two female co-founders. Do we each need to submit a separate application for the fellowship?
A single application is sufficient for the both of you since the form has provision to share details of your co-founder. Please go through the fields carefully and share all the relevant details of your co-founder.
Can I be a solo founder without a team?
You don’t need to have a co-founder to apply to Sequoia Spark. We hope that you will get to meet like-minded people through the Spark community so that you can learn and grow together.
When do I get to know the status of my application?
You can expect to hear from us within three weeks of your application, regardless of the status.
Is there a program fee?
Sequoia Spark does not charge any program fees. Given this is a grant, we don’t take any ownership/stake in the company either. You can expect to hear from us within three weeks of your application, regardless of the status.
If I'm not selected for/not interested in the fellowship, what are the other ways Sequoia Spark can help me as a founder?
At Sequoia India/Southeast Asia, community is at the heart of everything we do. We have the privilege of learning from 50 years of global tribal knowledge and we are keen to share those insights with the larger founder ecosystem.