Venture Capital: Sequoia’s ToDo list for entrepreneurs

Who’s Australia’s most interesting VC company? Anyway, thought some of you might find this informative. From Sequoia, who have a list of what they look for when funding startups:

Elements of
Sustainable Companies
Start-ups with these characteristics often foretells the success of a business and the likelihood of it becoming a sustainable, enduring company. We like to partner with companies that have:

Clarity of Purpose

Summarize the company’s business on the back of a business card.

Large Markets

Address existing markets poised for rapid growth or change. A market on the path to a $1B potential allows for error and time for real margins to develop.

Rich Customers

Target customers who will move fast and pay a premium for a unique offering.


Customers will only buy a simple product with a singular value proposition.

Pain Killers

Pick the one thing that is of burning importance to the customer then delight them with a compelling solution.

Think Differently

Constantly challenge conventional wisdom. Take the contrarian route. Create novel solutions. Outwit the competition.

Team DNA

A company’s DNA is set in the first 90 days. All team members are the smartest or most clever in their domain. “A” level founders attract an “A” level team.


Stealth and speed will usually help beat-out large companies.


Focus spending on what’s critical. Spend only on the priorities and maximize profitability.


Start with only a little money. It forces discipline and focus. A huge market with customers yearning for a product developed by great engineers requires very little firepower.

Business Plan
We like business plans that present a lot of information in as few words as possible. The following format, within 15-20 slides, is all that’s needed:

Company Purpose

  • Define the company/business in a single declarative sentence.


  • Describe the pain of the customer (or the customer’s customer).
  • Outline how the customer addresses the issue today.


  • Demonstrate your company’s value proposition to make the customer’s life better.
  • Show where your product physically sits.
  • Provide use cases.

Why Now

  • Set-up the historical evolution of your category.
  • Define recent trends that make your solution possible.

Market Size

  • Identify/profile the customer you cater to.
  • Calculate the TAM (top down), SAM (bottoms up) and SOM.


  • List competitors
  • List competitive advantages


  • Product line-up (form factor, functionality, features, architecture, intellectual property).
  • Development roadmap.

Business Model

  • Revenue model
  • Pricing
  • Average account size and/or lifetime value
  • Sales & distribution model
  • Customer/pipeline list


  • Founders & Management
  • Board of Directors/Board of Advisors


  • P&L
  • Balance sheet
  • Cash flow
  • Cap table
  • The deal

From Sequoia Capital – who funded lots of interesting companies.

We like being the very first investors. In recent years companies such as YouTube, Plaxo, Cast Iron, and Mark Logic, have spent their formative months working in our office. Long ago Electronic Arts and PMC Sierra both developed their original business as our guests. We do not have an E.I.R. program. Ours is just for E.I.A.s – Entrepreneurs in Action.

And who said size doesn’t matter?


We want to be contributors to companies that have the chance to become very significant. This requires us to cut cloth according to circumstances because companies require different amounts of capital at various stages. Bear in mind that the very best seed and early stage companies evolve into great growth companies. As a result, Sequoia Capital has had the good fortune to be an investor in a long list of growth stage companies. Here are some very general guidelines about the amounts we invest at different stages.

Seed Stage $100K – $1M
Early Stage $1M – $10M
Growth Stage $10M – $50M

Other bits of info:


As the “Entrepreneurs Behind the Entrepreneurs”, Sequoia Capital has had the privilege of being the first investor and business partner in companies that make-up 10% of the NASDAQ’s value. Here are some of the people who have chosen us as partners:

Steve Jobs, Apple Computer
Larry Ellison, Oracle
Bob Swanson, Linear Technology
Sandy Lerner and Len Bozack, Cisco Systems
Jerry Yang and David Filo, Yahoo!
Jen-Hsun Huang, NVIDIA
Dan Warmenhoven, Network Appliance
Michael Marks, Flextronics
Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google
Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, YouTube

Sic friatur crustum dulce (that’s the way the cookie crumbles). Have a good weekend.

Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

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