Sequoia Surge: Everything You Need to Know to Kickstart Your Early Stage Startup

Saurin Parikh
4 min readSep 25, 2019

It is a commonly occurring problem among early-stage startups to raise funds and scale, considering that there are very few resources and a small number of people aligning themselves with the idea behind the business. Raising funds can be particularly daunting for founders of early-age startups because they have to make many more crucial decisions.

To address these concerns, Sequoia India wants to provide these founders with an “unfair advantage” with a motto — No stage is too early. Sequoia India created a 16 week-long program called Surge, a rapid scale-up program for early-stage startups to grow by facilitating smart business model choices right from the start, and raise Series A, after the process.

“Being an early stage startup founder is probably the toughest job in the world.” — Shailendra J Singh, Managing Director, Sequoia Capital (India) Singapore

The problems Surge aims to address

Sequoia India did a series of Twitter polls in November last year to understand the obstacles faced in the startup scene around the Indian and Southeast Asian regions.

  • While the average seed/angel round size is $1.3 million around the world, the funds raised by Indian startups are relatively smaller
  • Indian startup founders go through many small rounds before they can raise $5 million
  • Founders in India spend a lot of their time fundraising
  • By the time founders get into sizeable Series A, their shareholding is diluted

The results Surge aims to accomplish

Based on the responses Sequoia India received on their Twitter polls, they came to the conclusion that early-stage founders are underserved. Surge targets the problems above to provide feasible solutions to accelerate startups. Here are some highlights.

  • The program will invest $1.5 million in every startup that is a part of Surge, even before the beginning of the program, or just near the start
  • With 2 Surge cohorts in a year, each Surge cohort will have 10 to 20 startups
  • Surge has 5 modules which will be hosted across the globe, aiming to give founders exposure to startups and trends
  • Through a startup’s 4 month journey at Surge, the founders will participate in Sequoia’s AMP curriculum, which leverages decades of startup building experience
  • Surge mentors are some of the most accomplished founders and technology executives in the region. Some Surge mentors are

Amit Jain, Uber India

Amit, who led Uber’s Indian operations for over three years, is responsible for the APAC region, which will include Australia, New Zealand, and North Asia, in addition to India and South Asia.

Byju Raveendran, Byju’s

Byju is the founder of Byju’s Classes, the Education Technology firm whose tagline is “Fall in love with learning.” The BYJU’S story was born out of the need for high quality, engaging and accessible education.

Gaurav Munjal, Unacademy

Gaurav is the Founder and CEO at Unacademy, who has successfully managed to build a platform, using which over 300,000 students have benefited from over 2,400 online lessons and specialized courses on cracking various competitive examinations.

[Suggested reading:10 Takeaways From Week 1 of Surge]

More about Surge

  • The Surge program is designed to accommodate a range of founders. They could be someone with just an idea or someone with an early-stage startup with a product-market fit and a round of seed funding
  • Each startup gets to work with the Surge team to define actionable 16-week goals
  • The Surge team also has experts who are internal and external professionals who will be able to help founders with their respective domains like technology, marketing, finance, etc. Founders can ask for 1×1 work hours with experts throughout the program
  • At the end of Surge, founders will have the opportunity to raise capital during an “UpSurge” week from a curated list of angels, seed funds and VCs. During UpSurge, founders can showcase their business to a more extensive set of venture and strategic corporate investors. This week allows founders to make connections, build relationships, and find prospective partners
  • After the 16 week journey, the founders stay connected with the rest of the Surge movement through alumni and networking events
  • Surge will invest $1.5 M in all participating companies at the start of the program, either in the form of equity or a convertible note
  • Going forward, Surge will also charge a small percentage of equity as a program fee. However, this fee will be waived for the inaugural cohort
  • At the end of the program, Surge will organize an investor week, designed to help you raise more capital from a curated set of investors. Terms will be set by investors participating in the round.

Surge 2.0 is in motion as of September 23rd.

This story was first published on Razorpay Learn.



Saurin Parikh

Writer, content coach, content marketer, elderly millennial, cool dad. Published work: