Sequoia goes after early-stage with an accelerator program in India and Southeast Asia

Sequoia India is going deep into early-stage investing after it announced an accelerator program, Surge, which is focused on fledging startups in India and Southeast Asia, the two regions that it covers.
Its been nearly six months since Sequoia India closed its newest $695 million fund its fifth since its establishment 12 years ago and with over 200 deals under its belt, it is going earlier than ever before. The Surge program is designed to work with a mix of companies; that could include founders with just an idea, to those at pre-launch or pre-seed, businesses with an existing product-market fit or even startups intending topivot, Sequoia India managing directorShailendra Singh told TechCrunch.
Its a bold attempt to try to create a better program for seed to Series A, Singh said in an interview. We thinkfounders are underserved. There isquality early-stage talent but we are trying to find a way to serve them better.
Singh explained that the program is a result of extensive research. Hesaid Sequoia India talkedto startups, founders and investors, and thata series of Twitter polls he conducted last year show founders in India and Southeast Asia are too frequently under-capitalized, over-diluted and forced to spend too much time on the fundraising trail.
Wedecided there is a better way, Singh said.
So what is the Sequoia India solution?
Surgeis aiming to recruit 10-20 companies per batch, with two cohorts running each year for four months each. Perhaps the most notable feature is that selected companies will receive a $1.5 million investment from Sequoia, with the option to raise more from the firm and other co-investorsin a final UpSurge demo week that concludes the program. Participants will, however, need to pay a program fee although that is being waived for the first cohort.
On its website, the firm describes Surge as being designed to give founders an unfair advantage, right out of the gate.
That first program is scheduled to run in March and applications are open now, although Sequoia has already picked a small selection for the first program. While the focus is local startups, China-based startups looking at India and Southeast Asia and U.S. startups seeking an Asia will also be considered, the firm said.
Singh said equity will be negotiated on a company-by-company basis, but he anticipates that valuations will be will be in the range of high single-digitto high-teens pre-money. Theres no obligation for a Sequoia follow-on, and Singh stressed that a curated selection of investors will be invested to invest in the post-program round and even alongside the initial $1.5 million check.
Sequoia goes after early-stage with an accelerator program in India and Southeast Asia
Shailendra Singh, Sequoia India managing director
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