Sequoia launches ‘Pathfinders’ to help early-stage startups go global


Pathfinders, a go-to-market platform launched by Sequoia Capital India and Southeast Asia, assists early-stage startups aiming to enter foreign markets in connecting with the appropriate sector operators in these countries. 

The website allows founders to specify any assistance they desire and connect with the appropriate industry “pathfinder” who will devote their time to assisting these firms enter additional geographical areas. 

As a part of the Pathfinders platform, Sequoia is working with six startups and hopes to expand this throughout its seed portfolio of investments in startups to Series A startups. The platform likes to expand support to growth-stage companies over the time.

Harshjit Sethi, Managing Director at Sequoia Capital, said, “We have been brainstorming since 2020 on how we can help our companies go global and came across the idea of Pathfinders. Today, early-stage startups need help with nuanced queries around – making their first hire in the US, market dynamics, customer introductions,” said Sethi. 

“We, at Sequoia, know great folks who have been part of some of our successful portfolio companies and are rightly equipped (by their experience) to help our startups with these nuances,” Harshjit further said.

According to Sethi, the platform already has 25 “pathfinders,” or industry operators, and the venture fund recently launched a special app to help portfolio businesses connect with the appropriate sector operators. 

Industry leaders who are currently involved with the initiative include Prasanna Sankar, cofounder of Rippling, Oliver Jay, former chief revenue officer of Asana, Param Kalhon, president of Palo Alto Networks, and Amit Singh, president of Palo Alto Networks. 

“For selecting pathfinders, we look for someone who can add tremendous value and has seen great success and scale. The second big focus of the Pathfinders program is ‘active help’ since these early-stage founders need tactical and hands-on help,” Sethi said. 

“Hence, pathfinders (industry operators) need to have the time and ability to do that. The final criteria is people who are well referenced that we directly know of and feel comfortable introducing our companies to,” he said on the selection process for ‘Pathfinders’.

Additionally, these operators might invest in the start-ups they are advising and assisting. 

The venture capital fund also stated that in order for the following group of companies and founders to benefit from what the industry executive can offer, it will be necessary for founders to actively submit feedback on their mentorship.

It is now evaluating operators in the United States and Europe and will soon spread to other continents including Australia and Latin America. 

Sequoia India has previously introduced a number of programmes for founders and startups, including Sequoia Spark, a fellowship and mentorship programme for female founders, Build, a scaleup programme for growth-stage portfolio companies, Guild, a community for the founding CEOs of its successful growth-stage startups, and Surge, its early-stage accelerator programme. 

Sequoia Capital funded $2.85 billion in June, the largest dedicated corpus from a risk investor for startups in Southeast Asia and India.

According to the statement, $2 billion will be used for venture and growth investments in India, and the rest funds would be given to companies in Southeast Asia. 

For the first time, the investor with its headquarters in Silicon Valley divided allocations specifically for India and Southeast Asia (SEA), a region where it has been active during the previous five to six years. Among the companies that Sequoia has invested in India and Southeast Asia are Byju’s, Cred, Freshworks, GoTo, Kopi Kenangan, Pine Labs, and Razorpay.

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