Sequoia India selects first cohort of women-led startups for Sequoia Spark Fellowship

Asia's Tech News Daily

Sequoia India selects first cohort of women-led startups for Sequoia Spark Fellowship
© Provided by CNBCTV18

Sequoia India has announced the list of 15 women-led, early-stage startups that have made it to the first cohort of the Sequoia Spark Fellowship Program.

The venture capital firm will offer a $100,000 equity-free grant to cover the early costs of starting up and provide mentorship to women entrepreneurs selected for the fellowship.

The program seeks to bridge the gender gap in the startup ecosystem by encouraging more women in Southeast Asia and India to become entrepreneurs.

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As of 2020, just 20 percent of venture-backed startups in ASEAN and 12 percent in India have at least one female founder, according to data sourced from Tracxn and Crunchbase.

“We saw a massive rush of applications that reiterated what we knew, that there was a huge unmet need in the market for capital and mentorship,” Sakshi Chopra, managing director, Sequoia India.

Launched in July this year, applications for the first batch closed in September. The Sequoia India team personally met over 250 women founders before selecting 15 startups to join the first Spark cohort. The volume and quality of these applications dispel the myth that there’s a shortage of female founders, said the statement.

Also Read: These startups are turning CO2 into vodka, shoes and car interiors

The first cohort has 20 women entrepreneurs, who are building startups across sectors including edtech, fintech, SaaS, consumer internet and web3.

As a part of the fellowship, they will receive mentorship in building a strong product and go-to-market roadmap which, in turn, will help mobilize their seed and Series A rounds.

“The founders have each been matched to a senior Sequoia India investment advisor, and to a seasoned startup founder from Sequoia Capital India’s portfolio, who will mentor them over the next 12 months,” said Sequoia India.

The cohort has seven startups from Southeast Asia, seven from India, and one from the UAE.

Also Read: IPO power: 61 companies raised Rs 52,700 crore from public listings till October, says FinMin

Here are the 15 startups that made it to Spark 01 — the first cohort of the Sequoia Spark Fellowship.


Jify Founded: 2021

Founders: Anusha Ramakrishnan and Anisha Aibara

An app for employees to instantly access, track, save and manage their pay. The core offering solves the short term liquidity gap between two paychecks, giving employees an alternate option to taking high-interest rate loans for the short term.

Findeed Founded: 2019

Founder: Srividhya Ramaratnam

The startup enables access to financial services for working-class Indians. It aims to serve 160 million (60%) Indian households, who earn between Rs 10,000 to Rs 30,000 a month and help them get access to credit.

Early Steps Academy Launched: 2021

Founders: Sneha Biswas

A global, case study-based edtech platform. It offers live online classes to teach 1,000+ subjects, including bioengineering, entrepreneurship and cryptocurrency.

The Nestery Launched: 2019

Founders: Vaishnavi R & Aparna Vasudevan

A one-stop shop for curated parenting and childcare products. The proprietary systems help parents discover these products with context through rigorous cataloging. For example, parents can search for ‘my child has a cold’ and get results of related products.

Linecraft AI Founded: 2019

Founder: Saya Date

A SaaS-based industrial IOT startup that aims to make manufacturing lines more efficient. The product helps manufacturing plants monitor trends, key line performance metrics and identify bottlenecks.

Loop Panel Founded: 2021

Founder: Kritika Oberoi

The startup helps product and design teams seamlessly convert customer conversation data into shareable, actionable insights in minutes.

Nume Crypto Launched: 2021

Founders: Madhumitha Harishankar & Niveda Harishankar

Nume Crypto has developed a protocol to make cryptocurrency-based payment transactions easy to initiate and extremely economical to process. It enables validation of an unlimited number of off-chain payments with just one on-chain transaction and results in arbitrarily low costs per payment.


Finllect Founded: 2020

Founder: Maimoona Mohammed

The startup aims to fill the huge gap of access to credit for young adults across MENA. The platform helps users build a credit score, access credit and unlock better financial opportunities.

Southeast Asia

Airschool Launched: 2020

Founders: Fatima Rizwan

A SaaS tool that makes it easy for experts & brands to launch their online courses, build an audience and make money.

Also Read: VIEW: Theranos fiasco has lessons for Indian startup space too

Rowy Founded: 2021

Founder: Harini Janakiraman

A low-code platform for developers to build prototypes that scale in a visual and intuitive way.

Milky Way AI Founded: 2020

Founder: Eunice Wong

It is a computer vision powered mobile app for CPG brands to gain real-time insights on their products stocked across millions of store shelves.

Friz Founded: 2020

Founder: Nirali Zaveri

The startup enables financial services for independent professionals and freelancers. It is a neobanking platform for 88 million freelancers in South and Southeast Asia.

Also Read: Looking to list as soon as possible in 2022: MobiKwik co-founder

Ascend Now Founded: 2018

Founder: Devi Sahny

An edtech startup that helps learners choose what and how they want to learn. It offers one-to-one, online, synchronous sessions, using behavioural assessment tools.

Sribuu Launched: 2021

Founders: Nadia Amalia, Fransisca Susan, and Nadia Fadhila

A personal finance management platform that provides a 360 overview of finances for young Indonesians. It helps users to save more money by identifying unnecessary expenses and giving personalized spending recommendations driven by AI to help them to save more money. Note: There’s also a startup in the B2B space in Indonesia which is currently in stealth mode.

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