In January, Sequoia India announced plans for its first early-stage startup accelerator program in India and Southeast Asia, and today the firm announced its first cohort of 17 startups.
Long story short, the program, which is called Surge, awards each startup a check and $ 1.5 million stake in a four-month program that is split into India and Singapore, as well as Sequoia’s global presence in China and San Francisco.
The program started last month, but the startups only made themselves known for the first time today, here they are:
- Azani Sports – An India-based “full stack” sportswear startup that sells online and through select retailers.
- Bobobox: An Indonesia-based Capsule Hotel Company
- Bulbul – A Live Streaming Service With A Focus On Ecommerce Across India
- DancingMind: a Singapore startup that uses virtual reality to enable stroke victims and patients with debilitating diseases like Parkinson’s
- Duda: An Indian-based educational startup that uses photos, videos, and artificial intelligence.
- Flynote – A travel booking service with a focus on personalized travel.
- Hippo Video – A platform that develops, edits, and analyzes sales and marketing videos.
- InterviewBit Academy – A Computer Development and Training Platform in India, Not Much Different Than Skill-Lync, Just Graduated from Y Combinator
- Khatabook – An accounting service for SMEs in India that already has 120,000 weekly users.
- Qoala – An Indonesia-based microinsurance startup, competing with rivals like PasarPolis, backed by three of Indonesia’s unicorns.
- ShopUp – A Social Commerce Startup Helping Sellers in Bangladesh Do Business Through Facebook; that’s a similar concept to established Indian startups Meesho (another YC alumnus) and LimeRoad, which allow marketers on WhatsApp
- Skillmatics – An India-based startup that develops learning games for preschool and elementary-aged children under the age of 10.
- Telio: a b2b commerce platform that aims to digitize the process of brands and wholesalers selling to retailers.
- Uiza: a Singapore and Vietnam startup that enables publishers and companies to develop their own video infrastructure independent of platforms such as YouTube
- Vybes – An Ecommerce Platform for Social Media Influencers Based in Singapore
- Zenyum – A startup offering invisible keys to consumers in Southeast Asia at a lower cost than traditional alternatives
There is an additional startup that remains “under the radar” for now, Sequoia said.
Sequoia India CEO Shailendra Singh previously told TechCrunch that Surge would support a “curated” selection of fellow VCs who could invest alongside the cohort alongside the firm, and Sequoia said the 17 startups have attracted a total of $ 36 million in investment. A spokesperson also noted that five of the team members have at least one female co-founder, which is almost certainly above the region’s average, although it is difficult to get reliable data covering India and (in particular ) Southeast Asia.
Surge is an interesting endeavor for Sequoia, which has traditionally played in the post-seed and growth stages of the investment cycle. Sequoia closed its most recent fund for India and Southeast Asia at $ 695 million last year, and it also has access to a globally active “growth” fund that is targeting $ 8 billion. Reports have suggested that Surge will get its own shiny new $ 200 million fund, which would make perfect sense given the potential conflict and confusion of investing through its main fund. But the firm is declining to comment on that possibility for now.
However, a major addition to the program that has been confirmed is Rajan Anandan, the executive who previously ran Google’s business in India and Southeast Asia and is a well-known angel investor. His arrival was announced earlier this month and he will lead the Surge initiative.
His recruitment is a huge win for Sequoia, which is betting that Surge’s initial push will pay the greatest dividends in India and Southeast Asia. That part remains to be seen, but certainly there is a dearth of early stage programs in both regions compared to other parts of the world.