Over the years, Sequoia has made a name for itself by placing early-stage bets on younger companies, many of which (Apple, Klarna and WhatsApp, …) have become public giants turmeric.
Now, as the competition heats up among investors to work with the most promising startups sooner, and the field in which founders hope to build and establish a company is widening. Rather, the company is taking a new approach. Today, it is launching a new program called Arcwhich it describes as a catalyst (neither an accelerator, nor an incubator) that will find and then work with teams of about 15 startups in 8-week sessions, with a focus on are “foreign” founders and startups.
Startups will receive a $1 million upfront investment from Sequoia; corporate design advice from partners and executives associated with the company (for example, founders and other key people from companies the company has supported); and a field trip to a legendary company to see it all in action. Sequoia has yet to reveal which operators will work with the first cohort but said the first physical visit will be to Klarna, where the startups will spend time with CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski, Camilla Giesecke (CXO), David Sandstrom (CMO) and David Fock (CPO).
Interested people can start apply from today until April 8 and the program will start on May 23. Arc’s first cohort will run out of London: one week at Sequoia’s offices in the city, then six weeks at work. remote work wherever the startup is normally located, and finally a week at Sequoia’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California. (Following cohorts will do the same, but starting with the first week in Silicon Valley.)
Arc will be co-run by Jess Lee (below, left), a Sequoia partner and its chief product officer based in the company’s Silicon Valley offices; and Luciana Lixandru (right), a partner based in the London office. Its key will be its unique selling point (aside from opening the door to working with one of the top VCs in the world): its emphasis on finding “exotic” founders. .
As Lixandru describes, Sequoia will source candidates for Arc through an open process. Warm recommendations don’t count and anyone can apply to be assessed, screened, and accepted or rejected on equal terms, in part using data science. data that Sequoia’s product team (led by Lee) has internally developed to evaluate potential investments.
The idea here is that, while the tech world has a number of tried and tested corridors for nurturing tech and startup ecosystems – Silicon Valley, certain universities and former playing a key role at another successful tech company are three of the stereotypes and leaning towards -among these – the growing growth and decentralization of that ecosystem, accelerated in two the past year as everyone is working remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic, is creating new opportunities to find talent and find talent, anywhere, to take the steps from idea to Build a company around it.
Sequoia – established only the first official outpost in Europe, in London, in Year 2020 — given that while all early startups can benefit from evidence-based guidance and mentoring from Sequoia (we know what works, is the underlying thought process), there is a key opportunity to do this in a more programmatic and coordinated way for founders from immature ecosystems.
“I really think having open applications is more beneficial for European founders,” said Lixandru, who has made a name for himself over the years by tapping into less-populated regions. more able (her hometown is Romania, for example) to identify and support companies that, like UiPath, have gone to the boom future. “Europe is too fragmented. A lot of the founders I’ve had the privilege of working with started in atypical tech hubs. ”
However, on a more practical note, launching Arc is also an important measure of competition – based on what other companies are doing. SoftBank is also making some proactive moves to get closer to younger startups at earlier stages, such as with its own accelerator effort called Appear, which it is partnering with Speedinvest. Tiger Global has made a name for itself by writing big checks to late-stage businesses, but now, Tiger Global is increasingly not just looking for investment in the previous period, but is now doing more in Europe. Andreessen Horowitz is also taking a more active role in early investment in the area.
Some of the logic of open apps is more effectively tapping into the long-term tail of founders who may not yet know someone or tick enough relevant boxes on their resumes and things. that will hopefully bring in more participants. Overall. That’s been a mantra in the tech world for a while, but often feels more like lip service, so the more shows are built around this concept, the better.
However, it looks like there will still be some lines drawn in that process. Lixandru initially told me that Sequoia would also be evaluating founders from Russia as part of the combination – which would be an interesting twist, since so many companies, including VCs, are now leaving away from the country due to the war in Ukraine, Russia gratuitous attacks, and the ensuing wave of global sanctions and moral outcry against it.
“We will be accepting applications from all over Europe, including Russia,” she said. “We think great founders come from everywhere [and] We want to give these opportunities to founders everywhere. Lixandru’s portfolio includes leading Series A for white boarding and image collaboration startup Miro (before she moved to Sequoia). Originally founded in Russia, and now based in San Francisco and Amsterdam, it raised $400 million in January and is currently valued at more than $17 billion.
Sequoia later clarified to me that while it was able to support the Russian founders of the Arc, it only considered people living outside the country.
Meanwhile, “Corporate Design” is a concept and approach that Sequoia has been honing for quite a whilewith modules it has built for both the later stages and others for the early stages of startups that cover tangible word concepts (e.g. how to build a sales team as you scale your business). tissue) to less tangible (e.g. building company culture).
With Arc, that content will be put to work in a new way, especially for training new founders who are really starting to find their feet.
In an industry with a very high failure rate, it’s no surprise that the word Sequoias fall back on when describing what they’re trying to do here is “persistence,” with Sequoia the custodian. Proven track record for some of the skills required to become this type of company.
“Corporate design is more than just building a company,” Lee said in my interview with her and Lixandru. “Company design is Sequoia’s way of starting, building, and scaling a long-term company…. It’s the other mindset of really thinking about the scale of the ambition to actually build over a decade or more. And that community, this community of get, [it is] only really powerful to be able to tap into that hive mind and that brain’s trust. “