May 26, 2022

Over the years, Sequoia has made a name for itself by betting on young companies, many of which (like Apple, Klarna and WhatsApp) have become tech giants.

With competition among investors looking to work with the most promising startups and an expanding pool of founders looking to build and launch companies, the company is taking a new approach. Today, he is launching a new program called Ark, which he describes as a catalyst (not an accelerator or an incubator) that will work with colleagues from around 15 startups over 8-week sessions, with “outsiders focusing on the founders. Run.

Startups receive $1 million in initial investment from Sequoia; Consultations on business design with partners and operators affiliated with the company (with the approval of the founders and other key figures in the companies); And a trip to the giant to see it all in action. Sequoia has yet to reveal which carriers the group will work with first, but said the first on-site visit will be in Klarna, hosted by startup CEOs Sebastian Simiatkowski, Camille Giske (CXO), David Sandstrom (CMO) and David K. time together Folklore (CPO).

Those interested can register from today until April 8, and the program will begin on May 23. The first Ark group will work out of London: a week at Sequoia’s city office, then six weeks of remote work where the startup is normally based, and finally a week at Sequoia’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California. (Late groups will do the same, but will start from the first week in Silicon Valley.)

Arch is led by Jess Lee (bottom left), Sequoia partner and chief product officer of the company’s Silicon Valley office; and Luciana Lixandru (right), partner from his London office. Key to this will be his unique advantage (besides opening the door to work with one of the world’s best VCs): his focus on finding outsider founders.

As Lixandrew describes it, Sequoia will seek candidates for Ark through an open process. Hot offers are not considered and anyone can apply for evaluation, scrutiny and equal acceptance or rejection, in part using the data science developed by Sequoia’s development team (led by Lee) developed in-house to identify potential investments.

The idea here is that while there are some fairly well-established corridors in the tech world to fuel the tech and startup ecosystem – Silicon Valley, some universities, and those who previously played a key role in another successful tech company, in which the three most conservative and lean – one of them is the growth and increasing decentralization of that ecosystem, which has accelerated over the past two years due to the covid-19 pandemic for everyone who works remotely to search for talent and create new opportunities for talent wherever they are. to move from a concept to building a business around it.

Sequoia, which will not set up its first official office in Europe, London, until 2020, believes that while all early startups can benefit from Sequoia’s evidence-based guidance and advice (we Know how the fundamental thought process works), there is a huge opportunity for the founders of less mature ecosystems to do this in a more coordinated and programmatic way.

“I really think having open apps will be even more beneficial for European founders,” said Lixandru, who has carved a niche for himself by tapping into less likely areas (such as his home country of Romania) to identify companies. and support, such as UiPath, which has moved into a fast-paced future. “Europe is so fragmented. I’ve had the privilege of working with many founders who started out in unexpected technology centers. ,

Part of the logic behind open apps is to make better use of the long tail of founders who don’t know anyone yet or check enough of the right boxes on their resumes that we hope will attract a more diverse mix of people. . Table. bring back to normal. This has been a mantra in the tech world for a while, but it often feels like empty talk, so the more programs built around this concept, the better.

However, it looks like some lines will still be drawn in the process. First, Lixandru told me that Sequoia would also be evaluating Russia’s founders as part of that mix – which would be an interesting twist since many companies, including venture capital, are currently distancing themselves from the country due to the war in Ukraine rather than Russia. Unprovoked attacks, and then waves of global sanctions and moral outrage against them.

“We are going to accept applications from all over Europe, including from Russia,” she said. “We think great founders come from everywhere. [and] We want to bring these opportunities to founders everywhere.” Lixandre’s portfolio includes Miro’s flagship A series for interactive whiteboard and visual collaboration (before switching to Sequoia). Originally based in Russia and now based in San Francisco and Amsterdam, it raised $400 million in January and is now valued at over $17 billion.

Sequoia later clarified that while it may support Russian founders in Ark, they only consider those outside the country.

Business Design, meanwhile, is a concept and approach that Sequoia has been honing for quite some time, with modules developed for later and other early stage startups that range from tangible to concepts (such as how to build a sales team like you scale) slightly less tangible (for example, creating a corporate culture).

With Arch, this material is being used in a new way, specifically to educate founders who are just starting to get on their feet.

In an industry with a very high bounce rate, it’s no surprise that the word Sequoia is making a comeback when they describe what they’re trying to do here as “sustainable” and Sequoia is a proven custodian of certain skills. company.

“Business design is so much more than just building a business,” Li said in an interview I gave her and Lixandre. “Business design is the way Sequoia starts, builds and develops a sustainable business…. It’s really outer thinking to think about the scale of ambition that can be built for a decade or more. And then this community, this acquired community, [it is] To tap into that collective intelligence and confidence in that brain is really powerful. ,

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