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Technology is the way forward: A look at Sequoia’s $1.35bn investment in India

Sequoia Capital India raised $1.35 billion across two rounds of funding for India and SEA, $525m for venture funds, and $825m for growth funds. In the past, they’ve made more than 200 investments in both India and SEA. With the Indian market and entrepreneurs proving themselves, Sequoia Capital India has been able to raise these funds for India and SEA, hoping that their returns are mutually beneficial. As per CB Insights, Sequoia Capital India invested in 80 startups in 2019 alone, in various funding stages including seeding and the other funding levels.

Another change that we’re seeing is that people are more willing to invest in startups after seeing the success of startups in India, the major cities being Bengaluru, NCR Gurgaon, and Mumbai. The most successful startups in India include Flipkart which was bought by Walmart for a value of $16b, and other notable startups from India are Ola, Swiggy, Zomato, Paytm, BYJU’s, and OYO, which are considered to be unicorns.

According to an article from Wharton, Entrepreneurship is embedded in India’s culture and economics. It might not have been technology-related but it only took the first wave for it to focus on technology. And that the last decade has seen a significant rise on many fronts such as startups, investment rounds, global investors, and internationalization. 

But, now there are other factors to be considered due to the pandemic. These are times when the business models are going to be tested. They want assurance that their investments will reap rewards. Investors and CEO’s are forced to introspect and calculate the unit economics in such a volatile market where cashflow is less and businesses are slow. When startups grow, it is difficult to measure their business at a large scale and the essence of business growth is unit economics.  Simply put, it is the cost price and the returns from the acquisition. Given the situation of the pandemic where the businesses are losing out on revenues, it has become non-negotiable especially for startups to measure the ROI and spend/invest money smartly to ensure maximum customer retention and revenue.

 But, the major reasons for this decision could be COVID which is going to expand tech business in the Asian market as companies are forced to digitize, also because Chinese apps and products are slowly being removed from the market and to match the manufacturing processes and to meet consumer demands and requirements, technology needs to be improved. Another reason could be visa restrictions which might cause the repatriation, and as per  ET, with the lockdown, and the recruitment of IIM and IIT graduates being a little hazy, they would rather start a company of their own than risk being repatriated. Risks are high in both, but at least startups have more hope than with the way things are going in the other end of the world. 

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IMPACT OF TRUMP’S VISA RESTRICTIONS ON INDIAN TECH MARKET.

Along with the economic fall due to COVID 19, Trump has now imposed additional restrictions on H1B and L1 visas. They are further suspended up to the end of 2020. Employees from other nations are considered a risk to the US market. This piece of news has taken major MNCs and employees who were planning to move to America by storm. Companies in the US worry that these restrictions might discourage qualified workers from coming into the country. Employees have been advised to change their status in the country and remain there. They are recommended to travel only if they are eligible for re-entry.

Yair Vardi is a co-founder and partner at Fusion LA, which accelerates the growth of startups by helping raise funds says that this news has hampered the company’s ability to build a business in the US. Other businesses also speculate that scaling up in the US market has become increasingly difficult. And the fact that it also impairs the international trade. Numerous other entrepreneurs face the same predicament as Vardi. 

The suspension of the visas has severely impacted the growth of startups who have been advised to not lose momentum and begin the exploration of new markets with lesser trade restrictions. Trump has been looking to restrict legal immigrants from working in America since he signed the “Buy American, Hire American” executive order. It seems like his objective is being achieved, as the restriction on visa laws may free up more than half a million jobs for the workers in the country. Experts consider this decision a power move for the upcoming presidential election in 2020.

This piece of news is going to bring a tremendous change in the Indian job market because earlier, all IIT and IIM graduates would look forward to going to the US. And given the current circumstances(Make in India drive fueled by anti-Chinese sentiments), they would have to settle here. This might be challenging in the beginning, but it might just be a boon for the Indian economy because the techies would want to start something of their own and boost the falling economy. India will have to up its technology game to start meeting the requirements of the consumers. Although, this won’t prove very difficult since many of the CEOs in American tech companies are Indian. Most companies looking to digitize are in luck, the active tech talent pool in India is at an all-time high.