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Why was Surge Launched?

Surge was launched to provide early-stage startup founders in India and Southeast Asia with access to meaningful capital, a strong community and hands-on company building support, coupled with a curriculum that leverages over 50 years of Sequoia’s tribal knowledge on building enduring companies. 

Read the original post by Shailendra Singh on why Surge was launched and designed to specifically serve founders with an ambitious proposition. 

How much equity does Surge take?

There’s no one-size approach to this. Equity is decided on a company-by-company basis and depends on several factors such as the stage and size of the business.

How many companies do you accept to the Surge program per cohort?

Surge usually accepts 15 to 20 companies per cohort. However, if we meet exceptional founders that we would love to partner with, then that number can increase. In the past, we have had cohorts with more than 20 companies as well

Do I need to pay anything to get into Surge?

For now, there are no program fees. 

Surge is an application based program. If a startup is accepted to Surge, they receive capital, combined with a 16-week program on company building.

However, we would like to see founders but bring their time, commitment and a learning mindset to the program!

What is the selection criteria for Surge

In a nutshell, Surge looks for an amazing founder or founding team, a large addressable market (TAM), and, if the company has already launched, early signs of traction or customer love. 

Watch Rajan Anandan break down each of the three components above as he describes the elements that make a great Surge application.

Do you accept the startups in the idea/pre-launch phase?

Yes absolutely! Over 20% of the Surge companies in the first six cohorts were pre-launch when we partnered with them,  including Last9, Cooby, Toplyne, Vah Vah!, Klub, Quolum, Tazapay and more.

I'm building for multiple markets... is Surge still for me?

Surge partners with founders from India and Southeast Asia who are building for their market, their region or for the world. In recent cohorts over half of the startups have been ‘building for the world’ from day one. In a globalised, digitised, borderless world, it’s expected that many companies will have teams and customers in several places.

Can a solo founder or a non-technical founder apply to Surge?

Surge has many solo founders and evaluates the startup in the same way as any company applying – regardless of the number of co-founders. If a founder has very deep domain expertise and a great vision for solving a pressing problem, then they should most definitely apply. 

Watch Rajan Anandan showcase some examples of solo, non-technical founders at Surge.

What do you look for in applicants who are at a pre-launch stage or just launched?

For pre-launch or newly launched companies, we focus on founder-market fit. I.e ‘Why is this the right founder in this sector to be launching this business?’. 


We also look at the founder’s vision, whether they are addressing a deep pain point, along with any unique insights they have into the problem they are solving, and the size of the market. 


For newly launched companies we focus on early signs of user love. 

Should I still apply to Surge if I have other investors?

The majority of Surge companies have co-investors. Some companies also had angel investors, or had raised a seed, before they came to Surge. The intent at Surge is to collaborate with the wider ecosystem. The program is designed to make room for other investors with a collaborative approach to company building. 

Surge set up this open architecture framework because it’s what’s best for founders. And the team remains committed to this philosophy. 

What do you look for in applicants who are at a pre-launch stage or just

The most important aspect we focus on is the caliber of the founding team. As with pre-launch companies we look for strong founder-market fit and large addressable markets.

For companies that have already launched, Surge looks for early signs of very strong user love. This can be measured by engagement and retention, product usage metrics, early user feedback and user reviews.

If your company is already monetizing, Surge will look at unit economics to understand the early indications of a viable economic engine.

I've applied to Surge, when can I expect results?

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My company is registered outside of India, can I still apply?

Where the company is incorporated is not an issue.  However, Surge companies need to have a meaningful presence either in India or Southeast Asia.

Why Was My Startup Not Chosen for Surge?

There are usually three main reasons we cite as to why a startup may not have gotten into Surge. But, as we said earlier, if any of these factors change, we highly encourage you to apply again for the next cohort. 

Watch Rajan Anandan break down the three reasons your startup may not have made it to Surge here.

Is the confidentiality of my information protected when I submit a pitch deck for Surge?

Surge does not share any pitch decks or materials with anyone external to Surge and its advisors.

Can I apply if I do not have a registered company yet?

Surge is open to applications from unregistered companies. However, if your startup is selected for Surge, we will then need you to set up a registered business entity in order to receive the Surge funding as well as for other accounting-related purposes. 

How many times can I apply to Surge?

You are most welcome to apply to Surge again if your application has been unsuccessful in the past. If anything has changed or progressed with your company and idea, we are happy to take another look.

The application says to describe my company in 250 characters. Do you mean words?

We mean characters. We’d like to ensure that you can succinctly describe yourself and your business in just a few impactful words. Just like you tweet in 280 characters!

Why do I need a recommendation letter? Where can I get one for the application? What if I am a student or don't have work experience? Who makes for a good reference?

Recommendations help our team to get a sense of an applicant’s background, characteristics and work ethic. Your reference could be from: any senior business leader, teacher, mentor, manager, advisor or investor. If you’re a student without prior experience, a teacher’s reference is absolutely fine. 


Here’s Rajan Anandan explaining who can (and can’t) be a reference for you.

Why do applicants pitch through a deck instead of through a pitch meeting?

The Surge team would love to be able to meet each and every founder. But realistically we are a lean team and so the application is a way for the team to get to know more companies in a shorter period of time. We do set up in-person (or virtual) meetings with founders who move to the next stage of the application process. 


Read more about creating a killer pitch deck here.

I submitted my application, but now I have an additional deck to add. How do I send this in?

Please contact us here for any additional information you may have. Or, you can DM us on Instagram or Twitter if you prefer 🙂

What sectors do you look at for Surge?

We are deeply interested in startups that are leveraging technology to go after large, addressable markets.

Surge is sector agnostic and partners with companies who are tech-enabled, across a very wide range of sectors including (but not limited to) EdTech, SaaS, AgTech, AI, D2C (personal care, food, pet care, etc), FinTech, Crypto, B2B, Logistics, HealthTech, DeepTech and Dev Tools. 

How does Surge benefit SaaS startups?

Surge is designed for all categories and sectors, and we make sure that SaaS companies have a community within Surge and can access specific SaaS-sentric sessions focused on finance and business models for SaaS companies. 

Watch Rajan Anandan talk about this in more detail here.

Is there a minimum stage before SaaS startups can apply to Surge?

There’s no specific stage and we believe it’s never too early when you have a strong founding team, deep insight into a problem and a large addressable market. 

Surge has partnered with SaaS companies that are pre-revenue, pre-launch and pre-product. 

Rajan Anandan explains more here. 

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