Surge 07 comprises 37 founders across 15 start-ups leveraging technology and consumer insights to drive innovation
The seventh cohort of Surge, Sequoia India and Southeast Asia's rapid scale-up programme, has some good news in store. Almost one-third of the start-ups in this cohort have at least one female founder.
Currently, 15 per cent of Indian unicorns have at least one female founder, with their presence more prominent in the e-commerce sector. According to a media report, women-led startups raised just 44 of the 255 deals in Q1 2021, which is a meagre 17.25 per cent. Moreover, the funding by these female entrepreneur-founded or led entities managed to raise amounted to $218.19 million of $3.71 billion, which is another paltry 5.87 per cent.
A BCG research found that when women business owners pitch their ideas to investors for early-stage capital, they receive significantly less—a disparity that averages more than $1 million—than men. “Yet businesses founded by women ultimately deliver higher revenue—more than twice as much per dollar invested—than those founded by men, making women-owned companies better investments for financial backers,” the report stated.
Some female start-up leaders who managed to buck the trend in India include Nykaa’s founder Falguni Nayar, Amagi’s co-founder Srividhya Srinivasan, Hasura’s co-founder Rajoshi Ghosh and OfBusiness' co-founder Ruchi Kalra who is also the CEO of Oxyzo. The growing presence of female participants in Sequoia Surge’s seventh cohort, therefore, comes as a breath of fresh air in the overheated start-up landscape.
Surge 07 comprises 37 founders across 15 early-stage start-ups driving innovation in India, Southeast Asia and other regions worldwide. According to an official statement, this includes Nykaa's former CFO, Sachin Parekh, who founded the retail platform, Pratech Brands. He shares this space with Uber's first software engineers in India who helped build Apache Hive, an aerospace engineer-turned-fintech founder, and machine learning engineers who worked on conversational AI at Facebook (now Meta).
Since its launch in 2019, Sequoia Surge now includes 281 founders from 127 start-ups across 16 sectors. These start-ups have collectively raised over $1.7 billion in follow-on funding, with over 60 per cent of companies from the first five cohorts raising their series A and beyond.
In a blog post, Sequoia Surge stated, "Nearly half of our Surge 07 companies were pre-launch when we partnered with them. Some are second or third-time founders, and others founded their start-up right out of college."
Rajan Anandan, managing director, Sequoia India and Southeast Asia, and Surge, said, "We continue to be deeply impressed by the ambition and diversity of ideas, as well as the calibre of founders with each cohort. Surge 07 is no exception. We have partnered with all of our companies at their earliest stage of company building, with nearly half of them still in pre-launch at the start of our partnerships."
The company added that founders in this cohort are tackling climate change with the first AI-powered decarbonisation platform in the Asia Pacific. They are also "helping people with no design experience create 3D animation anywhere in the world, allowing start-ups to build machine learning projects in minutes and days versus months."
Moreover, in SEA, these entrepreneurs are facilitating one-click checkouts. In Indonesia, they are building Indonesia's first fintech company for teenagers and designing full-stack tech solutions for Indonesia's agriculturInfoEdgee sector. According to Sequoia Surge, this will enable the next 10 million developers to enter the Web3 space.
Indian entrepreneurs have been a key fixture of previous Surge cohorts. The 6th edition, where Sequoia Capital India and its co-investors invested $60 million in 20 early-stage start-ups, saw the participation of 50 per cent of companies based in India. The past cohorts include notable start-ups like Plum, Khatabook, Bamboobox, Bitespeed and Airavana.
Surge combines up to $3 million of seed capital with workshops, international immersion trips and support from a community of well-established founders. Some entrepreneurs who exchanged their perspectives in the previous sessions include Amrish Rau, CEO of Pine Labs, Binny Bansal, Founder of Flipkart, Byju Raveendran, Founder of BYJU'S, Girish Mathrubootham, Founder of Freshworks, Kunal Shah, Founder of CRED, Nithin Kamath, Founder of Zerodha, Sanjeev Bikchandani, Founder of InfoEdge, Vidit Aatrey, Founder of Meesho and Neeraj Arora, the former chief business officer of WhatsApp.